Blockchain technology maturing beyond cryptocurrencies, says PwC


March 5, 2018 | 6:09 pm
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Cryptocurrencies or virtual currencies have been largely responsible for the world’s attention on blockchain technology. A lot of people would easily associate bitcoin, ethereum and other virtual currencies with everything blockchain. But in reality, it is more than cryptocurrencies.

Organisations that have realised this have already begun to explore other uses of blockchain technology. A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on Fintech landscape in 2017 found that 55 percent of surveyed businesses, across the financial sector and fintech plan to incorporate the technology as part of their production processes by 2018.

As a result, funding in blockchain companies increased 79 percent to $450 million in 2016.

Blockchain refers to a digitised, decentralised, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Blockhain was originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency bitcoin. Blockchains use the distributed ledger technology (DLT).

John Shipman, head of Fintech, PwC in a recent blog post published on the company’s website highlighted some of the segments or industries that can leverage blockchain technology.

The segments include agriculture, pharmaceuticals and healthcare; property and real estate; and music.

In agriculture, farmers who grapple with seasonal demands and the impact of weather on their harvest but slow transactions across a complex distribution network may find their solution in integrating blockchain technology.

“There are multiple companies operating in the market, including PwC, that are exploring the role of blockchain in agribusiness, signaling the possibility of a future in which agricultural commodities can be traded more quickly and securely,” Shipman wrote.

Healthcare is another segment that is seen to be ripe for blockchain disruption. In many public and private hospitals in countries like Nigeria, patients’ data is still being recorded on paper ledgers. A few that have adopted digital, now store their data on different platforms which could pose a problem for verification or transmission.

Shipman identified the work of Factom, an Austin-based company as one of the few businesses developing a medical record system, supported by blockchain technology that enables secure access to globally distributed patient records, from any location, via a smartphone.

For real estate, adopting blockchain technology can enable property manager reduce their dependence on third parties which contributes to much of the cost the organisations bear.

“By co-ordinating disparate third parties through ‘smart’ contracts, blockchain can cut red-tape and eliminate the risk of fraud. In essence, a smart contract is able to self-execute according to immutable code, which reduces human intervention and creates a new trust system,” Shipman stated.

In the music industry, players who face problems with how to discourage illegal downloads while ensuring artists are paid for their work, have an opportunity in blockchain technology.

“By allowing original music to be published on a ledger with an original ID and time stamp and storing metadata relating to ownership and rights information, blockchain could revolutionise the way music is monetised, make record companies redundant and empower musicians in the process.



March 5, 2018 | 6:09 pm
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