Don’t fully understand blockchain? It’s revolutionising our lives – from the way we get drugs, to how we prove our identity, to how we bet.
When cryptocurrencies hit the scene, it was thought that they would transform digital financial transactions. Now, innovative SMEs are taking the technology and applying it to their online businesses, to help make processes faster, more secure and more efficient.
A range of industries – from gambling sites to home energy providers – are taking full advantage of rapidly developing financial sector technology, and using the same structures within their own platforms.
In particular blockchain, which was originally devised to provide a digital ledger system to enable safe and secure sharing of information for cryptocurrencies, has been developed for use across a variety of sectors and applications.
So who are these smart-thinking businesses? And how is blockchain technology transforming how they operate?
Start-ups abound within the fintech sector, with crowd-funding and business angels ready to listen to the ideas of entrepreneurs who are looking at growing a business with its foundations in blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrency, is of course, the starting point of blockchain and companies such as Coinbase and CEX, which provide a platform for buying and selling digital currencies, have seen significant growth in recent years.
Similarly, lending platforms like Funding Circle - a direct lending platform that connects investors to borrowers - and Kabbage, which reviews clients’ business performance and then agrees an amount available from which the client can take what they need, when they need it, have established themselves in the marketplace.
In terms of wider consumer use, smart bank Monzo is aimed at the smartphone generation who to bank using an app but still like the benefits of carrying a card, while Plum analyses users’ financial transactions and income then uses a smart algorithm to calculate an affordable amount to save.
Technology designed to underpin the cryptocurrency system is finding its way into new a range of new sectors thanks to innovative businesses.
Technical: Waymark Tech provides artificial intelligence that allows clients to remain on top of new regulations and specifications within their sector. The software can identify new or amended regulations that will impact on specific clients, enabling them to respond efficiently and effectively.
Medical: FarmaTrust is a global tracking system that provides security for pharmaceutical companies, governments, regulators and the public against the risk of counterfeit drugs entering the supply chain. Blockchain and artificial intelligence combine with data analysis to provide the pharmaceutical industry with a safe, secure, encrypted, and, therefore, more transparent supply chain.
Gambling: Joy Gaming has devised the Joy Token that provides a novel solution to game developers, software developers, casinos and players alike. By providing a secure and transparent system, it gives players confidence in smaller, newer and less well-known sites, and encourages game developers and larger sites to work together to come up with innovative new ideas.
Power: Electron uses decentralised technology to support gas and electricity providers as they transition to a smart grid infrastructure. This includes meter registration that allows consumers switch between suppliers more easily.
Identity: The Shyft Network’s global system gives individuals the means to prove their identity without compromising personal data. Users can obtain, store, inquire into, and work with compliance-satisfying data. It means reduced costs and increased effectiveness with deeper consumer data security.
Many innovative start-ups have benefitted from educational courses that explain and clarify how blockchain and other digital advances are crossing into and improving so many sectors.
Online programmes like the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme and the Oxford Fintech Programme, run by Said Business School, University of Oxford, are designed to equip business leaders with the understanding and knowledge they need to progress in a technology-led world.
The online programmes, in collaboration with international business leaders – provide a platform through which to develop understanding of all aspects of blockchain and financial technology.
Find out how here