Blog manager: Giovanni Capaccioli

Translated by: Lawlinguists

Possible Blockchain applications

Possible Blockchain applications

Blockchain: a technology constituted by an immutable ledger, provided with tokens and smart contracts, malleable in relation to the objective or sector where one wishes to apply it. 

But which sectors are the most reactive nowadays to blockchain technologies?

In this article, after proper research both in the national and international domain, I highlighted six main sectors which proved to be particularly receptive:

  1. Education
  2. Voting
  3. Music
  4. Sport
  5. Healthcare
  6. Supply Chain  

Education 

Education

Nowadays, one of the significant difficulties in the education world is the quick and safe obtaining of academic titles. It slows down the bureaucratic proceedings that need manual interactions to find and get such qualification. 

  • Time-Consuming.
  • Manual work often too complicated.
  • Fraud problem regarding academic qualifications.

Technologies move forward, as the requests to see them applied in the areas of prime importance, as the education world. The adaptation is requested, especially by direct users of this world, which ask it to enjoy the associated benefits and use technologies to remove the problems that beset the sector. 

The newspaper Repubblica has recently reported that the Spanish university Rey Juan Carlos is undergoing a review led by Madrid examining magistrate to verify the validity of the admittance to the Bar for 500 Italian attorneys. It is just one of the possible blockchain applications to curb such problems. By applying this technology in this case, one would have a quicker, safer and immutable tracking method for academic titles, improving education quality and consequently, the quality of the professionals that it generates. 

The study on the application of blockchain in the education world is becoming developed enough to have interested leading universities like MIT (Massachusets Institute of Technology) which applies bitcoin and University of Cagliari which has chosen to use Ethereum.

The MIUR (Ministry of Education) itself presented during October 2018 its project related to the approval of the study programme and to the competences of each applicant, both for Italian citizens and refugees who reached Italy. The Vice-Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti itself described the project at the link of Ministry of Education and Research.

That’s how education world, through dedicated blockchain technology, can take advantage in areas like academic titles tracing, university credits, after-school training courses and much more besides.

Voting 

Vote

The voting matter is undoubtedly one of the most thorny: one of the most highlighted challenges during the years is about the security of the vote (both papery and digital).

  • possible electoral frauds
  • vote transparency issues
  • vote counting difficulties and so on

When speaking about this delicate topic, often one thinks that it refers exclusively to governmental, electoral, political votes, where citizens and institutions exercise their rights and duties linked to the election itself. 

However, if one considers blockchain technologies on a larger scale, realizes that these can be implemented in various voting systems, the daily ones, like polling about a different contest: sports events, tv programmes, social polling (YouTube, Facebook or others) and so on. 

The proper use of blockchain technologies could quickly help in removing the issues that we discussed before. This technology itself could allow not only the storage of votes in an immutable and transparent way, but would also guarantee a quick and secure retrieving and counting of the votes. On the one hand, it would allow voters to use smarter means to exercise their right (in whatsoever field or sector). On the other hand, who receives the vote (both people or firms) can be sure of the goodness of the polling system itself.

Many examples of the application of blockchain technologies are arising. On the second of September, the Japan Times, in this article, reports about the city of Tsukuba. It is the first Japanese city ever to vote through blockchain. 

The city has been referred to as leading Japanese town for scientific research, always in the frontline about new technologies. Here was developed an innovative voting system, embedded with a citizen recognition method that, applied to the blockchain technology, allowed citizens to vote about topics of social support. 

Sierra Leone itself has examined voting through blockchain during March 2018, as reported here by Sole 24 Ore. Through the use of a custom blockchain, it was possible to trace votes in parallel with papery polling, to show the goodness of numbers later expressed. 

The road to follow and the instruments for testing are tangible, but the blockchain technology shouldn’t be underestimated as the heir of nowadays voting systems. 

Music 

Music

he Napster case (1999-2001) shocked the discographic scene, as reported by Fatto Quotidiano here. From there on, the music business increasingly shifted to the digital world, creating communities ever-more likely to buy songs or albums online, downloading them on their devices. 

The discographic market, as the cinematographic one, is still today in a stabilizing phase, since there are still ways to “pirate” products of intellectual property covered by copyright.  

Since giants like Netflix and Spotify entered the market, the share of use of “pirate” systems to retrieve digital contents is lowering, as La Stampa reports here. Recently the trend not only normalized but it started growing again, meaning that nowadays users continue to use “pirate” systems based mainly on Torrent technology. 

Nowadays, this phenomenon is hard to limit, if not through new technologies, like blockchain, that would allow, on one side, to capillary track products. On the other hand, it would give users tangible benefits relative to the purchase, or retrieving, price of the product, or opportunities to earn based on predetermined actions inside Smart Contracts.

New technologies, increasingly easy to access, have begun to produce new phenomenons: YouTubers. Many artists, especially youths, are born thanks to the easy access to the global network, mostly through platforms as YouTube and Facebook. The latter allows them to share their skills and have almost instantaneous feedback on their product on users, even slightly monetizing from it. 

If on one side the access to the public becomes easier, on the other they are left to handle the talent. This problem has different sources: old school record companies, possibility to illegally download the tracks online with the consequent increase in the price of albums and singles both online and in retail stores, difficulties in selling. 

That’s why to try opening a new way in this market firms are trying to take advantage of the capabilities of the blockchain network, to ease and monetize in innovative ways instances like the handling of copyright and licences, while curbing the lobbying in the discography world. 

The use of Smart Contracts, for example, would allow setting platforms that don’t require an intermediary (as it happens nowadays), streamlining and accelerating the system itself. Users would be able to purchase directly from artists in a secure way, complying with licences, copyright and similar. Such platforms would allow even the creation, management and sale of streaming content. 

Positive consequences would involve also, and especially, artists, that would become direct content producers and sellers, obtaining more and more control on the management of their audience, in a straightforward and unfiltered way, enhancing their community, directly benefitting from the interaction. 

Sport 

Sport

Nowadays the world of sport is increasingly linked to economy. If until a decade ago, the economy was only a branch in every sport club, now it hasn’t only become an integral part of every healthy management but has become the preponderant branch.

Nowadays, every forward-looking sporting company makes a move only after having studied and carried out economic and financial planning, which undergo other analysis before being approved. Several firms in this world are s.p.a., meaning that they need a healthy and transparent budget. 

That’s why sporting firms are always looking for innovative business models. Those who dared to move first in the recent past are those that today have a growing capital available since they attacked new markets.

The clear example for Europe is football: football clubs transformed themselves into fully fledged businesses. Clubs like Manchester United, Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid (to give a few examples) shifted their focus on new markets, like the Asian one. It allowed experiencing innovative technologies like advanced streaming platforms or, as in Paris Saint-Germain case, implementing blockchain. The CoinTelegraph reports about the blockchain platform being built by the French club, which aims at being increasingly in touch with their supporters, allowing them to interact upon pure aesthetic decisions like jersey colours, or on technical ones like the pick of the Most Valuable Player in a tournament, a friendly match and so on.

The Londoner team West Ham is choosing the same road, as reported here by CoinTelegraph

Sole 24 Ore describes the blockchain project of Juventus here. In Italy, it is recognised not only for its successes but also for its financial plan, always undergoing developments, proof of its attraction for this technology, seen as a strength both financially and in fan involvement. 

Blockchain technologies can be a growth factor in several ways: crypto sponsorship, ticket management through smart contracts, transparency in anti-doping analysis, prize competitions for fans and even more. 

Healthcare 

Healthcare

Nowadays there is an increasing number of institutes and corporations operating in the healthcare sector. These differ both for available means, and for the amount of data processed and operative costs that are charged to users. The current system, unfortunately, operates with technologies that make it unsuitable for the rising requests of greater speed and increasingly smart use of data

Working platforms used by these firms are prone to curb the data processing (exams results), both for medical professional and users. 

A recent report “Rapporto PIT Salute di Cittadinanzattiva” highlighted by Repubblica here stresses how in the eyes of citizens, their discomfort has grown: waiting periods to obtain exams results, ticket cost, drugs, prescriptions, intramoenia and so on

This problems cascades, implying rising costs that firms that are born by users. There is consequently a slowdown in diagnosing treatments, and user data is not entirely monetized, neither on the firm side and on the user side

That’s why sanitary systems in the blockchain are under study since these could allow users to have a digital wallet to request exams, to store results, to share, instantaneously and upon request, these data with medical officers. Besides, one should not underestimate the possibility both for companies and users to monetize these results in several ways while maintaining security and privacy. 

Moreover, the study and the application of advanced devices and software is quickly rising, especially for mobile mode (smartphone, smartwatch, sports tracker), to connect users’ collected data with treating physician(s), to track personal health, trying to catch earlier possible diseases. This is the “mHealth” or “mobile health” sector, that as described by Agendadigitale here, uses users’ devices that, through dedicated sensors, collect health data. 

Across the Atlantic, there is already this kind of solutions, under blockchain technology. RttNews reports here how high-profile healthcare firms (like Pfizer Inc., McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., Premiere Inc.) have confirmed their participation to the creation of a blockchain infrastructure aimed at collecting and easing the management of the data (the so-called Big Data) ….

data handling, payment tracking, digital medical records collecting, cost reduction, interfacing with wearable devices

Supply-Chain 

Supply chain

The supply chain includes all steps that a product has to go through. Collection, production, transformation, transport are only few steps that a product undergoes before getting into final user hands: the production process, logistics. 

Nowadays, these data are tracked, but obsolete procedures are still used, implying errors or even slowing down the processes inside the chain. The latter is a multitude of critical nodes that have to be tracked most accurately, trying not to slow down the tracking process, while trying to make it faster and trustworthy. 

At present, many errors can burden a supply chain not correctly oiled:

  • The client will always be the focal element, the one that determines a successful line or not: that’s why it is essential to understand if the final user buys the product. Knowing end users (the buyers) in real time allows the supply chain to provide them with the right product at the right time. 
  • The same goes for every “participant” of the supply chain: everyone has a specific role in the process, a time marked and selected targets. These characteristics have to match every level of the supply chain. Here’s why it is essential to see not only the final product but also the previous ones and the steps inside the chain. This means that the end user has the same importance of the supply chain itself: live monitoring the final user as for other actors in the chain. 
  • Being able to control all actors in real time allows consequently to improve the supply chain as a whole or just a part of it, without impacting on the rest of the productive process. 
  • Being able to reprogram one or more levels of the supply chain is directly linked to their characteristic of being visible along the chain. If one or more levels are not visible or don’t interact in real time, the supply chain as a whole pays the price: delays, lack of knowledge about failures, impossibility to intervene in real time and so on

Security and tracking can benefit from the creation of a blockchain register. The product will securely reach key nodes, being noticed very quickly (through appropriate instruments); moreover, its path will be saved and so tracked in the ledger,  increasing the possibility to be monitored for whatever reason. 

A few examples may be: tracking of the logistics, of the agrifood made in Italy, of petrol, of a supply chain for finance. 

What was discussed above is advantageous both for participants of the supply chain and final users, who will use the product.

The former would enjoy from a ledger based on a new technology that would allow them to cut different supply chain managing costs, creating a smart saving, auditing and controlling system, with the consequent possibility to follow in real time eventual malfunctioning and resolving it. 

It would also serve as positive advertising for supply chains, especially in cases where these were to be used to mark the quality of a product: agrifood, a highly technological product made in Italy or a global technological-manufacturing brand. 

The latter, the users, would have available a system that allows them to check the product in front of them. Such product, through the application of a dedicated technology (like RFID, barcode, QR code and their heirs that are currently under development) would allow users to track all the data stored in the blockchain from the supply chain, which by definition are immutable by third parties

The final customer would enjoy from an instrument that could help to curb counterfeiting in sectors linked to health, food, technology, made in, and so on