17 Real-World Use Cases for Blockchain Technology
To the average person, “blockchain” is synonymous with “crypto.” The inception of blockchain as we know it is typically credited to an anonymous entity behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who brought blockchain to the world in 2009 as a ledger of Bitcoin transactions. But since its creation, blockchain has evolved from an element of cryptocurrency to a key technology across various industries, including supply chain, social media, healthcare, financial services, energy, media and entertainment, education, government, and data management.
At its core, a blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions and data in a transparent and immutable way. Unlike traditional systems, which are controlled by a central authority, each blockchain is managed by a distributed network, which makes it near-impossible for anyone to alter or manipulate the data. Consequently, blockchain acts as an immutable digital ledger that can be used to track and record the movement of assets, such as money or goods, securely and transparently. For industries operating on traditional systems, blockchain technology introduces a trustless solution to improve efficiency, automate business processes, and ensure security.
But a blockchain is essentially just a single-table database—very limited in the amount and type of data it can store. In order to be adopted at mass scale for real-world applications, businesses need to be able to connect the blockchain to scalable off-chain compute without breaking the zero-trust model. A decentralized data warehouse like Space and Time offers exactly that, providing a simple, powerful, and familiar on-ramp for enterprises to adopt blockchain technology. With Space and Time, blockchain has the potential to solve more complex use cases across all major industries.
Businesses can leverage blockchain as a reliable, transparent, and tamperproof way to track the movement of goods through the supply chain. The use of blockchain technology can improve efficiency and visibility throughout the entire supply chain, while also reducing the risk of fraud and counterfeiting. Because the data recorded on the blockchain is secure and unchangeable, it can be used to verify the authenticity of goods and ensure that they have not been tampered with. But supply chain systems often involve multiple stakeholders and data from a variety of sources, and while a blockchain can act as a ledger for some of this data, businesses must leverage an off-chain tool that allows them to incorporate data from multiple sources, analyze it, and return analytic results back to the blockchain ledger.
Imagine that a company is leveraging a blockchain to track the movement of goods from a manufacturer to a retailer. The manufacturer, the logistics provider, and the retailer are all stakeholders in the supply chain, and they each have their own systems for tracking and recording data. By incorporating off-chain analytics, the company can integrate data from each stakeholder's system and create a more comprehensive view of the supply chain, from production to sale. But if these analytics are run in a centralized data warehouse, all the benefits the company receives from their use of blockchain disappear. In order to incorporate analytics into their blockchain-based system, the company must leverage a decentralized data warehouse, like Space and Time. Space and Time connects scalable off-chain analytics to the blockchain to create a more comprehensive view of the supply chain, providing the necessary tools to identify bottlenecks, improve efficiency, and ensure the integrity of the goods while maintaining decentralization and trustlessness.
Blockchain is already being widely adopted as the technology behind decentralized social media platforms. These platforms offer increased transparency, accountability, and user control compared to their traditional counterparts. Blockchain also empowers users to securely and transparently manage their personal data, which can be especially useful in the context of social media. But user activity on social media generates a large amount of data, which can’t be stored or processed on a blockchain.
A decentralized social media platform collects data on its users' preferences, interests, and activities. In order to leverage this data to improve the user experience—for example, by creating personalized content recommendations—the platform has to run analytics against the data, often in real time. Space and Time offers a solution for this platform to run both real-time transactional queries and scalable analytics against the data it’s storing on the blockchain, as well as the in-app off-chain metadata generated by its users. This allows the platform to generate a more complete view of in-app activity without offloading the management of user data to a centralized entity. Incorporating decentralized off-chain data and analytics can help to improve the scalability, privacy, and performance of social media systems that are built on blockchain technology.
One of the most interesting use cases for blockchain is in healthcare—more specifically the storage and management of electronic medical records (EMRs). Each blockchain is operated by a decentralized network, which means that it is not controlled by any single entity and that no one can alter or delete data stored there. Information stored on the blockchain, such as an EMR, is therefore more likely to be accurate. A blockchain-based system for storing EMRs also makes it easier for different parties to access and share medical information. For example, if a patient sees a specialist, the specialist could easily access the patient's EMR stored on the blockchain, rather than having to request the information from the patient's primary care physician or navigate a non-standardized system. To preserve patient privacy, a blockchain-based system implements access controls through the use of encryption, private key authentication, a smart contract, or a permissioned blockchain.
Connecting decentralized analytics to a blockchain-based healthcare record system ensures the quality, security, transparency, and privacy of patient data. Space and Time could be used to analyze the data and identify and correct errors or inconsistencies before publishing it on-chain. By distributing the analysis of the data across a network of nodes, rather than relying on a centralized platform, Space and Time guarantees stronger protection against data breach. The platform can also track how the data is being accessed and by whom, making it easier to identify any mistakes or issues. Most importantly, by leveraging Space and Time, the system ensures the privacy of patient medical records by encrypting the data and cryptographically guaranteeing the accuracy of it, removing the need to store sensitive, private patient information on a publicly accessible blockchain.
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the financial industry by providing a secure and transparent way to store and transfer data. Blockchain is already being used to improve the efficiency and security of the entire financial ecosystem. It also reduces the need for intermediaries like banks to facilitate transactions, putting more power in the hands of individuals.
Compliance and reporting
One of the key benefits of using blockchain technology for compliance and reporting is that blockchain provides a secure and transparent record of transactions. Organizations are more easily able to comply with regulations, as they can easily access and provide evidence of activities. Additionally, blockchain technology (by way of smart contracts) can be used to automate compliance processes, reducing the need for manual record-keeping and freeing up resources. Finally, smart contracts ensure that compliance obligations built into the contracts are automatically enforced.
Insurance is one of the most rudimentary use cases for smart contracts. With smart contracts, insurers can automate the process of claims handling and policy administration, streamlining traditionally manual processes and improving overall efficiency. Blockchain can also improve the accuracy of risk assessment by providing a tamperproof record of an individual’s or organization's claims history to help insurers more accurately price policies and combat fraud. The use of blockchain in the insurance industry helps increase transparency and trust between insurers and policyholders by providing a clear and easily verifiable record of all transactions.
Blockchain technology can greatly reduce the time and cost of processing settlements by eliminating the need for intermediaries like banks. In fact, smart contracts can automate the settlement process entirely, providing an immutable way to execute agreements and therefore reducing the risk of errors or unfairness. Blockchain technology ensures a tamperproof and immutable record of all transactions, improving the security and efficiency of the overall settlement process.
Blockchain technology eliminates the need for central intermediaries, like banks and governments, to facilitate cross-border transactions, which can greatly reduce the time and cost of processing and receiving payments. Payments can be automated with a smart contract, and the blockchain ledger guarantees the security of the process by providing an unalterable record of each transaction.
Trading and liquidity risk
Blockchain has given rise to decentralized exchanges (DEXs), which allow users to trade cryptocurrency directly with each other and operate without a central authority. Because DEXs operate on a decentralized platform, they provide a more secure and transparent trading environment, as there is no central point of failure that can be exploited by hackers. DEXs also improve liquidity in the cryptocurrency market, as they allow users to trade directly with each other rather than relying on a centralized exchange to match buyers and sellers. Trading on a DEX means less liquidity risk, as there are more potential buyers and sellers available to facilitate trades.
Proof of reserves
In contrast to DEXs, centralized exchanges (CEXs) are operated by a central authority that matches buyers and sellers. But even though the exchange is centralized, blockchain still has utility. Blockchain technology can be used to provide proof of reserves, a mechanism that allows exchanges to demonstrate that they have sufficient assets on hand to cover the trades that they facilitate. Proof of reserves can help centralized exchanges build trust with users by ensuring that the exchange is solvent, which is now more important than ever.
Cryptographically guaranteed decentralized analytics
Much like with the other use cases mentioned, a decentralized analytics platform like Space and Time can expand the utility of blockchain in financial services by providing a means to incorporate off-chain data and analytic insights. Space and Time, however, uniquely guarantees the accuracy and integrity of the data and analytics with a novel cryptographic protocol called Proof of SQLTM. In the financial industry, the security and integrity of data is critical, as the data is often sensitive and valuable. Proof of SQL allows smart contracts to access more complex analytics and large data volumes aggregated off-chain in a verifiably tamperproof way, enabling new financial instruments on-chain.
A tokenized energy grid is a system in which energy is bought and sold using on-chain tokens, which creates a secure and transparent platform for the exchange of energy. In this model, energy producers can sell excess energy to consumers, who pay for the energy using tokens. These tokens can be traded on a blockchain-based platform, allowing for the efficient and secure exchange of energy between parties.
If a renewable energy company generates electricity using solar panels and wants to sell this electricity to consumers, the company could mint tokens on a blockchain that represent a unit of electricity. The consumers could then use these tokens to pay for the electricity they consume. The blockchain provides a record of all transactions, ensuring that the energy company is paid for the electricity it generates and that the consumers are only charged for the electricity they consume. By connecting a decentralized analytics platform like Space and Time to this system, the company can expand the ways in which they track and price energy usage and production to improve efficiency and sustainability.
Artists and entertainment
The entertainment industry has been forever changed by blockchain technology. Blockchain has enabled the creation of decentralized platforms for content distribution, allowing artists to directly connect with their audience and share their work without the need for intermediaries. Additionally, blockchain has created new models for content monetization, such as tokenization and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have opened up new opportunities for artists to monetize their work and for fans to support and invest in their favorite creators. Overall, the adoption of blockchain technology has had a significant impact on the entertainment industry, disrupting traditional business models and creating new opportunities for innovation.
Licensing and distribution
Ticketing and fan-to-artist payments
A decentralized ticketing platform utilizes smart contracts to securely and transparently manage ticket sales and distribution. Event organizers can easily and securely sell tickets directly to fans, eliminating the need for intermediaries such as ticket brokers. Smart contracts can also facilitate fan-to-artist payments using tokens or other digital assets that represent ownership of an artist's work. These tokens can then be bought, sold, and traded on secondary markets, allowing fans to directly support their favorite artists and potentially earn a return on their investment, which creates a more efficient and fair system for all parties involved.
Generating insights with decentralized analytics
Space and Time can improve these systems by providing greater insight into the generated data. Decentralized analytics help event organizers better understand customer demand for tickets, allowing them to price more efficiently and optimize the distribution of tickets to maximize revenue. In the case of fan-to-artist payments, decentralized analytics can help artists to better understand the sources of their revenue and the demographics of their fan base, allowing them to tailor their marketing and distribution strategies accordingly. Decentralized analytics can also help artists to track the usage and licensing of their works, providing them with a more accurate picture of their revenue streams and helping them to make more informed decisions about how to monetize their content. Space and Time provides a more data-driven approach to blockchain-based ticketing, fan-to-artist payments, and licensing and distribution, leading to improved efficiency and revenue generation.
Blockchain technology can be used to securely store and manage educational records, such as transcripts and degrees. It can also be used to verify the authenticity of online courses and certifications. Educational institutions can store transcripts, certificates, and other records of academic achievement on a decentralized ledger, which can then be accessed and verified by employers and other educational institutions to ensure that credentials are legitimate. Blockchain can also be used to track the progress of students as they complete their degrees, allowing them to easily share their transcripts and other credentials with potential employers or educational institutions.
Connecting a secure decentralized data platform like Space and Time to a blockchain-based crediting system helps protect the privacy of students, as it allows them to share their academic records on a need-to-know basis, rather than providing access to their entire academic history.
Government and public sector
Blockchain can be used to streamline and automate the delivery of government services, such as the issuance of licenses and permits, helping to reduce bureaucracy and improve the efficiency of government operations. By leveraging a permanent and verifiable record of transactions and activities, government agencies increase transparency and accountability in their operations. Blockchain can also be used to securely and efficiently verify the identity of citizens, helping to reduce the risk of identity fraud and improve the security of government systems.
Space and Time could be used to provide greater visibility and insights into the data generated by blockchain-based government systems. Decentralized analytics can help government agencies to track and monitor off-chain data, like the distribution of public resources such as food aid or healthcare, ensuring that these resources are being distributed fairly and efficiently. Decentralized analytics can also be used to monitor the performance of public sector services, providing governments with the data needed to identify areas for improvement and make more informed policy decisions.
Web3 advertising networks use blockchain technology to facilitate the buying and selling of advertising space. These networks are designed to provide a more transparent, secure, and efficient alternative to traditional centralized advertising networks. This helps reduce the need for intermediaries, lowers transaction costs, and increases the efficiency of the advertising market.
By analyzing data from Web3 advertising networks in a platform like Space and Time, businesses can gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns and the demographics of their target audience, allowing them to optimize their advertising efforts and improve the return on their advertising investments.
Blockchain technology is ultimately a new paradigm for data management, providing a decentralized, secure, and transparent platform for storing and sharing data.
CRM and ERP
Blockchain technology can be used to enhance customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems by providing a secure, decentralized platform for storing and sharing data related to a company's operations, resources, and customers. This ensures that data is kept private and secure, and that it can only be accessed by authorized parties. Additionally, smart contracts can be used to automate business processes and various aspects of the customer relationship, such as tracking customer interactions or automating the fulfillment of orders. Blockchain can also be used to create a shared, immutable record of data that can be accessed by multiple parties, for situations where there is a need to establish trust between parties who do not have a preexisting relationship, such as when a customer is interacting with a new business for the first time or when a company is collaborating with a new supplier.
Data lineage and replayability
One of the main benefits of a blockchain is that it’s an immutable ledger. Blockchain technology allows for the creation of a shared, immutable record of data, allowing the history of a particular piece of data to be traced back to its original source. It also guarantees that the data cannot be altered or tampered with after it has been recorded on the blockchain.
Space and Time: The first decentralized data warehouse
Traditional data management systems rely on centralized servers and databases, which can be vulnerable to hacking, data breaches, and other security threats. Space and Time offers better security, efficiency, transparency, and scalability to its centralized counterparts.
This article is also available to read on Medium.