When most people think about blockchain technology, they think of its obvious applications for managing alternatives to traditional banking transactions, but the reality is that its power stretches far beyond the world of currency.
Put simply, think of blockchain technology as an online ledger that tracks and verifies every time a transaction is created on it. The attraction in its capabilities lies in the fact that, because the information is distributed across tens of thousands of computers, the system is almost impossible to hack and it is that critical benefit that will see the way transactional-based business is changed forever.
Here are five potential applications that will help you do better business using blockchain technology.
1. Secure Storage in the Cloud
In the same way you might put your spare room’s availability into the sharing economy of Airbnb, cloud storage is another application that small business could utilise effectively to create another income stream and save money. Each year, the world’s computer users spend tens of billions of dollars on cloud storage but by accessing excess hard drive space already in the cloud, the security of blockchain technology could see a huge reduction in data storage costs that could save your small business big money. Check out Storj as one example of how blockchain technology is changing the way data is stored and accessed in the cloud.
2. Smart Contracts
This buzz term was first coined back in 1993 and gained broader appeal following the 2013 release of the Ethereum Project, which showcased a decentralised platform that manages smart contracts. Imagine applications that run exactly as they have been programmed to run, without risk of any downtime, fraud, third party interruption, or censorship. Welcome to the brave new world. By using smart contracts, small business has the opportunity to bypass regulations and use these unbreakable contracts to reduce the cost for a variety of common financial transactions. The technology is already widely used for things like bike rentals and car rentals and will only increase as people’s trust of the technology catches up with the benefits it can offer.
3. Paying Employees and Suppliers
When it launched, Bitwage claimed to be the world’s first payroll service to incorporate Bitcoin payment options. For small businesses paying international employees, or ordering stock internationally, the ability to transfer funds to any contractor, supplier or distributor without the hassle and unnecessary expense can help trim expenses and save time - making doing business in the global market easier than ever before.
4. Digital Identity
Managing protection against potential fraud can cost the small business community dearly. The beauty of blockchain technology is its ability to track and manage digital identities in ways that are secure and efficient - benefits that actively reduce fraud and streamline processes. Rather than relying on password-based systems on insecure systems, blockchain technology enables businesses to use authentication systems that are based on identity verification techniques, such as digital signatures based on public key cryptography, that can’t be compromised.
5. Loyalty programs and gift cards
If you are a retailer with gift cards and loyalty programs, blockchain technology can help reduce running costs by making the process more streamlined and more secure. Digital gift cards can be traded with absolute security via the blockchain’s public ledger, giving small businesses a safer way to manage retails transactions without the paperwork.
As the number of patents that are filed featuring blockchain technology as an active part of the business model soars each year, it is clear that the future of blockchain is looking bright. To get on board, do your research and explore what feels comfortable, to you for now, making sure you keep a careful eye on the trends related to blockchain to ensure your business is competing on the global stage as a business that is relevant, progressive and secure.