If you are following technology news, you probably have already thought about bitcoins as a scam or as a great opportunity. Maybe you feel that you missed the boat, or happy that you stayed out of it. Maybe you have made your fortune on Bitcoins. This love/hate relationship is taking  the attention away from what a technology like Blockchain can do to transform our world.

I started doing some research to come up with five applications for blockchain but ended up with six. There is no secret formula behind number six, I just could not remove one idea from the list.

Here are six ideas on how to use blockchain other than the cryptocurrencies.

Digital Identity
Currently, my online identity and my activities are owned and monetized by few social media platforms. Blockchain can help in creating an independent identity that is owned by me and I can safely use it anywhere, without giving away my personal information. The challenge is existing companies that are benefiting from the status quo. They will resist any change that would take away the power they have with our data. There many ideas you can find related to blockchain based digital identity. Here are few:

  • Public Voting – allowing people to vote digitally, securely, and with the ability to validate every vote cast.
  • Private Data Bank – Owning and managing your information with full control over when someone has access to a portion of that data and when can you revoke that access. Imagine moving your healthcare provider and how difficult is it to transfer your medical record from one practitioner to another.
  • Shareholders Voting – engaging shareholders in the strategic direction of a company like never before. Through a secure blockchain based voting system, shareholders will be able to participate in important decision making.

Distributed Storage
Many of us have online storage of documents, pictures, videos, and other digital media. We use services like Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, and many more services like this. Some of us use a storage system at home, with little or no redundancy. If you are like an average user, you may not have a sophisticated backup system to recover from a disaster. Imagine if all your digital media and files were stored in millions of fragments, with multiple copies of each fragment and you are able to access them from any device, without anybody being able to peek into your data. Yes, this is blockchain based distributed storage.
Here are some ideas on how this kind of blockchain applications could help:

  • Private Digital Storage – Instead of using a service provider like Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc., your files were divided into small encrypted pieces and were stored in a pool of millions of computer, with multiple copies of each piece stored on a different machine.
  • Corporate Digital Storage – Right now corporate data centers are full of Network Attached Storage and Storage Area Networks, providing access to terabytes of data in a reliable and dependable way. We are already seeing a transition from corporate data centers to cloud. Blockchain can expedite the departure of corporate storage from internal data centers to the cloud with flexibility, security, and redundancy at a low cost.
  • Government Records – Births, deaths, marriages, deeds, decisions, proceedings, and so much other government data needs to be stored and be accessible on demand. Distributed storage could help in storing multiple copies of the data online. Again, just like the corporate world, cloud transition is already happening in this sector but blockchain can certainly accelerate it.

While I did not cover cryptocurrencies in this blog, I plan to write about the opportunities and challenges with virtual currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereium, etc.

A group of blockchain experts and friends are starting a virtual blockchain incubator. You can join the Blockchain Incubator for free.

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