Beyond Bitcoin: 7 blockchain applications disrupting the status quo

By Sam Daley  |  July 27, 2018

Blockchain applications go far beyond cryptocurrency and bitcoin. With its ability to create more transparency and fairness, while also saving businesses time and money, the technology is impacting a variety of sectors, from how contracts are enforced to making government work more efficiently. 

We've rounded up seven real-world blockchain applications for this pragmatic, yet revolutionary technology. Although far from an exhaustive list, these examples are already changing how we do business.

blockchain applications smart contracts

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are like regular contracts except the rules of the contract are enforced in real-time on a blockchain, which eliminates the middleman and adds levels of accountability for all parties involved in a way not possible with traditional agreements. This saves businesses time and money, while also ensuring compliance from everyone involved. 

Blockchain-based contracts are becoming more and more popular as sectors like government, healthcare and the real estate industry discover the benefits. Below are a few examples of how companies are using blockchain to make contracts smarter.

Propy

Industry: Real Estate
Location: Palo Alto, Calif. 

Blockchain Application: Propy is a global real estate marketplace with a decentralized title registry system. The online marketplace uses blockchain to make title issuance instantaneous and even offers properties that can be purchased using cryptocurrency. 

BurstIQ

Industry: Healthcare
Location: Denver, Colo.

Blockchain Application: BurstIQ’s big data blockchain contracts help patients and doctors securely transfer sensitive medical information. The smart contracts establish the parameters of what data can be shared and even displays details of personalized health plans for each patient. 

MediaChain

Industry: Music
Location: NYC

Blockchain Application: MediaChain uses smart contracts to get musicians the money they deserve. By entering into a decentralized, transparent contract, artists can agree to higher royalties and actually get paid in full and on time. Streaming giant Spotify acquired MediaChain in April 2017.

blockchain applications money transfer

Money Transfer

Pioneered by Bitcoin, cryptocurrency transfer apps are exploding in popularity right now. Blockchain is especially popular in finance for the money and time it can save financial companies of all sizes.

By eliminating bureaucratic red tape, making ledger systems real-time and reducing third-party fees, blockchain can save the largest banks $8-$12 billion a year, according to a recent article by ComputerWorld. We’ll take a deeper dive into four companies using blockchain to efficiently transfer money.

OPSkins

Industry: Gaming, Fintech, Cryptocurrency
Location: Santa Monica, Calif.

Blockchain Application: Gamers looking to buy rare skins, accessories and even emotes can use Bitcoin as a method of payment at the OPSkins online marketplace. Sellers receive the bitcoin in their virtual wallet and either choose to keep the cryptocurrency or exchange it for cash. OPSkins processes more than two million virtual transactions a week.    

Circle

Industry: Fintech, Cryptocurrency
Location: Boston

Blockchain Application: Boston-based Circle oversees more than $2 billion a month in cryptocurrency investments and exchanges between friends. Circle’s investment and money transfer platform currently features seven different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Monero and Zcash.  

Chain

Industry: Fintech, Cloud
Location: San Francisco

Blockchain Application: Chain builds cloud blockchain infrastructures for financial services. The San Francisco company’s cryptographic ledgers help financial institutions safely and efficiently handle the transfer of cryptocurrencies.

Chainalysis

Industry: Fintech, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity
Location: NYC

Blockchain Application: Chainalysis builds tools to help financial institutions and governments monitor the exchange of cryptocurrencies. The company’s due diligence software monitors and detects fraudulent trading, laundering and compliance violations, and builds trust in blockchain. 

blockchain applications internet of things

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next logical boom in blockchain applications. IoT has millions of applications and many safety concerns, and an increase in IoT products means better chances for hackers to steal your data on everything from an Amazon Alexa to a smart thermostat.

Blockchain-infused IoT adds a higher level of security to prevent data breaches by utilizing transparency and virtual incorruptibility of the technology to keep things "smart." Below are a few US companies using blockchain to make the Internet of Things safer and smarter.

Filament

Industry: Internet of Things, Hardware, Software
Location: Reno, Nev.

Blockchain Application: Filament creates software and microchip hardware that lets connected devices operate on blockchain. The Reno-based company’s products encrypt ledger data, distribute real-time information to other blockchain-connected machines and allow for  the monetization of those machines based on timestamps.

HYPR

Industry: Internet of Things, Cybersecurity
Location: NYC

Blockchain Application: HYPR thwarts cybersecurity risks in IoT devices with its decentralized credential solutions. By taking passwords off a centralized server, while using biometric and password-free solutions, the company makes IoT devices virtually unhackable.

Xage Security

Industry: Internet of Things, Cybersecurity
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.

Blockchain Application: Xage is the world’s first blockchain-enabled cybersecurity platform for IoT companies. The technology manages billions of devices at once and can even self-diagnose and heal possible breaches. Xage is primarily used by IoT companies in the transportation, energy and manufacturing industries.

blockchain applications personal identity security

Personal Identity Security

According to identity theft expert LifeLock, more than 16 million Americans complained of identity fraud and theft in 2017 alone, with an identity being stolen every two seconds. Fraud on this scale can occur via everything from forged documents to hacking into personal files.

By keeping social security numbers, birth certificates, birth dates and other sensitive information on a decentralized blockchain ledger, the government could see a drastic drop in identity theft claims. Here are a few blockchain-based enterprises at the forefront of identity security.  

Illinois Blockchain Initiative

Industry: Government, Technology
Location: Springfield, Ill.

Blockchain Application: Illinois is at the forefront of experimental blockchain in government with the Illinois Blockchain Initiative. The state-funded initiative has already put in place measures to use a distributed blockchain ledger to enhance the security of birth certificates, death certificates, voter registration cards, social security numbers and much more.    

Civic

Industry: Identity Security, Fintech
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.

Blockchain Application: Civic is a blockchain-based ecosystem that gives individuals insights into who has their information. The company’s users enter into smart contracts, where they decide who can share their personal information and how much. If the contract is broken or an unauthorized source tries to access private data, the individual is immediately alerted.   

Evernym

Industry: IT, Software
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Blockchain Application: Evernym’s Sovrin identity ecosystem lets individuals manage their identities all over the web using distributed ledger technology. Sovrin stores private information, acts as a communication medium between the individual and entities wanting private information, and verifies information as true in real-time.

Ocular

Industry: Cybersecurity, Fintech
Location: Los Angeles

Blockchain ApplicationOcular’s anti-money laundering compliance platform leverages blockchain-enabled security to ensure data cannot be manipulated. The technology uses biometric systems to scan the faces of individuals applying for passports, driver’s licenses and other government issued IDs. By viewing biometric systems on blockchains, governments can more easily catch identity thieves foraging fake passports, certificates and IDs from other countries.

blockchain applications logistics

Logistics

A major complaint in the shipping industry is the lack of communication and transparency due to the large number of logistics companies crowding the space. According to a joint study by Accenture and logistics giant DHL, there are more than 500,000 shipping companies in the US alone, causing data siloing and transparency issues. The report goes on to say blockchain can solve many of the problems plaguing logistics and supply chain management.

The groundbreaking study argues that blockchain enables data transparency by revealing a single source of truth. By acknowledging data sources, blockchain can build greater trust within the industry. The technology can also make the logistics process leaner and more automated, potentially saving the industry billions of dollars a year. Blockchain is not only safe, but a cost-effective solution for the logistics industry. Here are some companies on the cutting-edge of logistics blockchain technology.

DHL

Industry: Logistics, Supply Chain
Location: Plantation, Fla. (US headquarters)

Blockchain Application: Shipping giant DHL is at the forefront of blockchain-backed logistics, using it to keep a digital ledger of shipments and maintain integrity of transactions. DHL has a major presence in the US and is one of the largest shipping companies to embrace blockchain.

Block Array

Industry: Logistics, Supply Chain
Location: Chattanooga, Tenn.

Blockchain Application: Block Array introduced the first “Bill of Lading” to run on blockchain. The logistics operation platform helps businesses safely monitor the progress of their shipped goods, house information on drivers and materials, and manage payments. Block Array also features smart contract processing and secure document management.

Maersk  

Industry: Logistics, Supply Chain
Location: Florham Park, NJ (US headquarters)

Blockchain Application: Based in Denmark, but with offices all over the US, shipping giant Maersk has teamed up with tech giant IBM to infuse blockchain into global trade. The two companies will use blockchain to better understand supply chain and track goods digitally across international borders in real-time.

ShipChain

Industry: Logistics, Supply Chain
Location: Los Angeles

Blockchain Application: ShipChain is a fully integrated blockchain system serving the end-to-end shipping process. From the moment the shipment leaves the facility to the time it arrives at its destination, the logistics ecosystem safely tracks and documents every move to create a transparent ledger. Based in Los Angeles, ShipChain is aiming to modernize the $8.1 trillion supply chain market using blockchain.

blockchain applications improving government

Better Government

One of the most surprising applications for blockchain can be in the form of improving government. As mentioned previously, some state governments like Illinois are already using the technology to secure government documents, but blockchain can also improve bureaucratic efficiency, accountability and reduce massive financial burdens. Blockchain has the potential to cut through millions of hours of red tape every year, hold public officials accountable through smart contracts and provide transparency by recording a public record of all activity, according to the New York Times.

Blockchain could also revolutionize our elections. Currently, voter apathy in the US is at an all-time high, with just over 58 percent turning out in the 2016 presidential election, while only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible public showed up for \the 2014 midterm elections, according to PBS. Blockchain-based voting could improve civic engagement by providing a level of security and incorruptibility that allows voting to be done on mobile devices.

The following companies and government entities are a few examples of how blockchain applications are improving government.    

Voatz

Industry: Government, Cybersecurity, Politics
Location: Boston

Blockchain Application: Voatz is a mobile voting platform that runs on blockchain. The encrypted biometric security system makes it secure to vote on a mobile device from anywhere in the world without fear of hacking or data corruption. West Virginia is one of the first states to use the company’s platform to collect votes from eligible service people and travelers abroad during elections.

State of Delaware

Industry: Government
Location: Dover, Del.

Blockchain Application: Similar to the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, the State of Delaware is also launching their own initiative to explore the benefits of blockchain in business and government. So far, the state has mostly focused its efforts into archiving public documents and safely securing private records. The next step in Delaware’s initiative is to begin implementing smart contracts between the government and corporations.  

Follow My Vote

Industry: Government, Software
Location: Blacksburg, Va.

Blockchain Application: Follow My Vote is a secure online voting platform using an open-source virtual blockchain ballot box. The technology decreases spending on physical ballots and can be accessed via any device. Follow My Vote implements the end-to-end tools that elections need in order to provide total safety and confidence in the voting process.

blockchain applications improving media

Media

Many of the current problems in media deal with data privacy, royalty payments and piracy of intellectual property. According to a study by Deloitte, the digitization of media has caused widespread sharing of content that infringes on copyrights. Deloitte believes blockchain can give the industry a much needed facelift when it comes to data rights, piracy and payments.

Blockchain’s strength in the media industry is its ability to prevent a digital asset, such as an mp3 file, from existing in multiple places. It can be shared and distributed while also preserving ownership, making piracy virtually impossible through a transparent ledger system. Additionally, blockchain can maintain data integrity, allowing advertising agencies to target the right customers, and musicians to receive proper royalties for original works. The following US-based companies are helping grow the popularity of blockchain in our media.   

MadHive

Industry: Digital Media
Location: NYC

Blockchain Application: MadHive is a blockchain-based advertising and data solution for digital marketers. The platform tracks, stores and generates reports on customer activity, saving all the data to a private blockchain. MadHive’s targeted audience reports and real-time data monitoring give advertisers insights into their customers without compromising data privacy.

Steem

Industry: Social Media
Location: Austin, Texas

Blockchain Application: Steem is a social media platform backed by blockchain. Its “Proof-of-Brain” community uses tokens as incentives, encouraging people to create original content. The amount of tokens distributed is based on the number of upvotes each article receives. Steem has payed over $40 million in tokens to creators.

CIVIL

Industry: Digital Media, Journalism
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Blockchain Application: Civil’s mission is to power sustainable, independent journalism through blockchain. The company uses CVL tokens to empower journalists to run their own independent newsrooms without the editorial interference of an ad-driven model. With Civil’s model, journalism is decentralized, allowing a community of individuals to report important news, rather than one central entity.

Open Music Initiative

Industry: Music, Non-profit
Location: Boston

Blockchain Application: Open Music Initiative is a Boston-based nonprofit creating an open source protocol to identify original creators and music rights holders. By trusting their music rights data to blockchain, the nonprofit is making it easier for artists and musicians to be recognized for their work and paid correctly. The initiative has backing from from virtually all areas of the music industry, including producers and radio stations, as well as media giants like Netflix and Spotify.    

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