I'll be the first to admit that blockchain isn't easy to wrap your head around. You've probably heard of it in relation to Bitcoin because cryptocurrencies are underpinned by blockchain technology. But blockchain can do so much more than that.
It’s becoming an integral part of any exchange of data from tracing priceless art, exchanging property titles, monitoring food supply – anything that you’d like to be guaranteed that you got what you paid for.
I would go as far as to say that it's the future of doing business.
What can blockchain do?
Blockchain is a way of transferring data. While the most well-known use of blockchain is for cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) it actually can transfer any kind of data that you want to keep secure – whether it’s medical data, money or your democratic vote.
It has some incredible uses as ‘smart contracts’ and supply chain management. Let me tell you why those two things are so interesting.
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#1 It makes your food safer
Companies like Nestle and Walmart are onboarding blockchain to manage food safety. Nestle has been using blockchain to trace baby food ingredients back to their source, making sure they meet standards and to improve recall processes.
Walmart recently did an experiment to trace a packet of dried mangoes to the farm it originally came from — it took less than a week. Think of what this means if you need to trace the source and check the integrity of any food that has been contaminated... say, strawberries, for example.
Exchanging goods through blockchain creates a chain (of blocks, if you will) that connects source and destination to allow for greater transparency and accountability in the distribution process.
#2 Allows secure trade on the ASX
The Australian Stock exchange (ASX) is aiming to move entirely to blockchain by 2020.
All the stock market movements, trades, financial tools will need to sync up with the new ASX through nodes in the network.
#3 It can make online voting more secure
Data in a blockchain can’t ever be changed. This is particularly useful if there were the need to rely on the accuracy of a transaction. For example, when we vote in elections – which we still do manually in Australia – you want to have a guarantee that the vote came from one person and was for a particular party. Blockchain could guarantee your ballot.
This tech is still a little way off because smartphone and personal computers have some catching up to do. Which brings us to..
#4 Operates your smartphone securely
HTC released a blockchain smartphone at the end of 2018 that stores all the data in your phone on a decentralised network.
HTC has a lofty mission to "rebuild the internet together by empowering the people to own their own identities, personal data and assets", which sounds ambitious but technological change is rapid and we're seeing how integrating blockchain into one industry to linking to other industries.
Blockchain is going to influence part of the way we will communicate with each other, to the way we do business through to the very food we eat.
How can I learn more?
RMIT Online can teach you about blockchain via its Future Skills short courses. These short courses are designed to be taken online over 6-8 weeks. They will help you upskill for tomorrow’s workforce.
You can learn how to integrate blockchain into your existing tech or build your own interface. Given that this is the future of business, better get learning.