Blockchain technology

Blockchain Technology and Exciting Business Avenues

The concept of decentralization and blockchain technology has opened up multiple avenues for a business to operate. The fact that decentralization can effectively reduce the transaction fees is beneficial to most of the business sectors. Another factor that is increasing the popularity of blockchain technology rapidly is transparency which helps in gaining the trust of the clients/customers. On the other hand, in case of a centralized network, people on either end of the transaction cannot completely say that the medium they are using is trustworthy. The blockchain can store a large volume of transaction records that can be easily accessed by the concerned parties at a later date.

Banking

As the populous is seeking online transactions more and more, the banking system is looking at blockchain technology for a secure, digitised and tamper-proof ledger. The UK-based Barclays and Swiss bank UBS are currently experimenting with the open-source technology to speed up back-office tasks and settlements. Studies say that in the banking industry, application of the blockchain technology can cut up to $20 billion in middleman costs. Japan’s SBI Holdings collaboration with Ripple is a step towards providing a next-generation payment platform. Many banks are also investing in blockchain start-ups like R3 CEV. This start-up is currently working on a blockchain platform, named Corda which will be the “new operating system” for the financial markets.

Travel

XcelTrip is a self-funded start-up from California that had been engrossed in building a blockchain-based travel ecosystem for over 3 years. Decentralized Travel Ecosystem (DTE) was developed by XcelTrip to eradicate the existence of intermediaries who demand a cumulative gross margin as high as 25% from the vendors.  This extra charge by the intermediaries means an excess expense for the travelers. XcelTrip is currently working on integrating Tokenomics and Blockchain on its desktop and mobile platform. This will indeed revolutionise the OTA industry while retaining the core values of the said industry. The website plans to keep the search style traditional for ease of the users and at the same time will include blockchain-based features like “X Talk” and “X Cabs” to their users.

 “We believe the existing model, in which the middleman like OTAs (online travel aggregators) and GDS (global distribution systems) take away a big chunk of the business revenue without directly adding any value to anyone in the travel chain, is neither sustainable nor desirable as a business, especially when technology is allowing us to create an alternative and more efficient system” says XcelTrip’s CEO Hob Khadka

The platform also offers XCEL Token as a utility token in the Xceltrip ecosystem. It is an ERC20 token on Ethereum platform as the technology of choice. Consumers can pay in XCEL Token and receive discounts on their purchases. Similarly, vendors can opt to receive settlement in XCEL Token which will result in a faster settlement. Consumers and independent market providers can receive rewards in XCEL Token. XCEL Token will also be used to raise funds to further develop the platform in its journey towards decentralization. and in future will be an integral part of the travel and hospitality ecosystem.

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical companies have to generate unique serial numbers for medicines and parts of equipment that are scanned and authenticated at their zone of origin. DHL is currently in collaboration with Accenture to create a blockchain-based “track-and-trace” serialization system. Initially, the project will be launched in six places around the world. According to the DHL president of healthcare, Scott Allison, the system has collected more than 7 billion unique serial numbers. They are used to confirming 1500 transactions per second.

The “track-and-trace” serialization feature with the help of blockchain can lower costs while ensuring high-security. This will help in gaining the trust of their customers. Moreover, the process will effectively silence error-prone data movements while initiating real-time supply chain visibility.

Allison says, “Using blockchain, as each item moves through the supply chain, additional verified information is appended.”

Thus, DHL looks forward to a less risky environment of business.

Cross-border Payments

Binkabi is basically a cross-border agricultural trading platform that is focused on creating a worldwide system for fair commodity trading. Sweetbridge has joined hands with Binkabi to help the farmers, especially from the underdeveloped countries as it is more difficult there to access banking services and collect capital. IBM is also currently exploring blockchain technology to create a Nuevo blockchain banking solution such that the process of cross-border transactions occurs in a much lesser time.

Humanitarian Crises

The issue of trafficking continues to be one of the major concerns of the United Nations. To eradicate these malpractices UN has taken the help of blockchain technology to eradicate these problems. At present, the UN is applying blockchain technology across 16 agencies. This also includes the World Food Program and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The World Food Program is using the decentralization model to help refugees purchase food by simply an eye scan. The Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, on the other hand, utilises it in improving donor financing, providing data protection, and securing and supervising supply chains.

Blockchain technology is also being applied by Microsoft and Accenture jointly to create a legal form of identification for 1.1 billion people across the world as an initiative of the global public partnership ID2020. The prototype developed jointly uses Accenture’s blockchain abilities and runs on Microsoft Azure. Biometric data (iris scan and fingerprint) is used to unlock the records in the blockchain to create a legal ID. Thus, the refugees can have a personal identity record that can only be accessed by them through an app on a smartphone. They can use it to receive assistance at borders and can also use them to receive basic services like healthcare.

Food Safety

Dole, Nestlė, Walmart and many such food suppliers are working with IBM to better regulate food safety. The blockchain technology allows the consumers, regulators, retailers, distributors, processors, suppliers and producers to gain ‘permissioned’ access to the data about origin and condition of food during transactions. This way everyone in the ecosystem can use the blockchain network to trace contaminated foods up to their source in a very short period of time. This will ensure that the contaminated products are immediately removed from the shelves.

In fact, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recently started using blockchain technology to successfully track seafood.

“Consumers are increasingly calling for fully-traceable seafood that does not come from illegal fisheries or those that engage in human rights abuses.”…  “Wholesale and retail seafood buyers are asking for improvements in transparency and traceability to reduce the risk of their brands being associated with dubious and illegal activities. Layered into the real-time information coming from other electronic technology platforms, blockchains can provide unprecedented supply chain transparency and traceability that retailers and consumers want.” said

Bubba Cook, WWF Western Central Pacific Tuna Program manager

Apart from the above-mentioned business avenues, blockchain technology has also been introduced in the fashion and jewelry industry. Hence the decentralization model has made its way towards many areas of the business world.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed by Coinschedule Blog contributors are their own.

Hira Saeed on Twitter
Hira Saeed
Founder of Tech Geeks Pakistan and Digital Doers. Hira is also a public speaker and columnist who shares her views on Startups, AI, chatbots and Blockchain technology on VentureBeat, The Next Web and Tech In Asia.