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How are businesses using Blockchain?
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk around the ways blockchain or DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) is set to change the future of business and commerce. More and more, blockchain is moving out of R&D and into the real world – with the market set to expand to a worth of around $23 billion by 2023. But which businesses and industries are leading the trend, or already using it to grow their profits and offer a better service?
Credit card companies
Mastercard, American Express and Visa are all actively pursuing blockchain research and development. MasterCard has applied for two patents – one a faster blockchain-based payment processing system for merchants, and one for blockchain-based storage of payment histories between vendors and customers.
American Express is pursuing the use of blockchain to reinvent their rewards program, both for record-keeping and by offering cryptocurrency for reward points. Their corporate clients can even send funds from the US to the UK using the Ripple network.
And in June of this year, Visa launched “B2B Connect” globally, its blockchain-based business-to-business payment service.
Commodities – from diamonds to tuna fish
After diamond giant De Beers successfully demonstrated that 100 high value diamonds could be traced from ‘mine to retail’ along every stage of the supply chain in 2018, hopes for a more transparent diamond and rare minerals industry may well be realized. This was accomplished through a blockchain platform called Tracr – developed by De Beers in partnership with other companies like Diarough, Rosy Blue and Venus Jewel.
The same blockchain-powered approach could theoretically be used for tracing any commodity, enabling consumers to make more educated buying decisions. The World Wildlife Fund’s “From Bait to Plate” initiative in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand aims to prevent illegally and unsustainably caught seafood from entering the retail food chain. It is hoped that in the near future, consumers around the world will be able to scan a QR code with their smartphone which will show the origin of the seafood they buy, all the way back through warehouses and distribution centers to the fishermen who caught it.
While music streaming services like Spotify and Tidal have been great for music lovers, they haven’t been quite so kind to the wallets of the artists, producers, crew members and record labels. Several blockchain-based initiatives are out to change that. The likes of The Open Music Initiative, based in Boston, are exploring the use of blockchain to identify the rightful music rights holders and make sure they get fairly paid. They currently have over 200 members – including Soundcloud, Red Bull Media and Netflix. Recently, Sony, YouTube, and Spotify have also joined their ranks in hopes of modernizing and streamlining royalty payments.
Another industry which could be revolutionized through the adoption of DLT is the casino industry – where, shall we say, slightly old-fashioned accounting systems are still the norm. Aside from basic cash-in/cash-out management, casinos could benefit from blockchain through better security and regulation, faster transactions, as well as the dissolution of land borders which the use of cryptocurrencies would allow for online players. Many online sites are already offering games like Bitcoin Jackpot Slot, roulette, baccarat and Blackjack.
London-based Empire Hotels and its in-house cryptocurrency EmpireCash are making waves in the hospitality industry with their blockchain-backed, all-in-one booking platform. Guests can choose whether they wish to pay in fiat or crypto, can check in and even unlock their room door via a dedicated app on their smartphone, as well as viewing their bill at any time inclusive of any extras like meals or services they’ve ordered. It’s hoped the system will greatly reduce transaction fees and entirely eliminate registration and commission fees – as well as letting guests get on with enjoying their holiday sooner and more smoothly.
While the carbon trading market (which aims to provide economic incentives for companies to reduce their emissions) is certainly one way nations can address climate change in a data-driven manner, the global marketplace is incredibly fragmented. Between differing policies and the high trading costs incurred because buyers and sellers need to rely on intermediaries to navigate the frequently complex process, there’s an urgent need to make the process more streamlined and efficient.
And that’s exactly what Chinese firm Synergy Blockchain Technology is setting out to do. Through their carbon credit trading platform VER and carbon-credit-backed cryptocurrency ECO2, they hope to better match buyers and sellers, and allow for smooth, transparent and efficient transactions both within countries and across international borders.
As the range of industries mentioned above highlights, the possibilities and potential applications for distributed ledger technology are incredibly diverse. And as more companies embrace blockchain technology, we can expect to see even more innovation (and likely a few surprises!) in the near future.
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