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Is Blockchain the Tech of the Future?

Blockchain technology is a steadily growing presence in many industries. But what is blockchain? It's a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public ledger that's used to record transactions across many computers. This ensures that any involved record cannot be edited retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.

Although the technology operates in the background of a business, it should be at the forefront of your mind. From healthcare and digital IDs, to payment transfer and supply chain management, blockchain tech has pushed businesses into the new age of digital security, communication, and organization.

Recently, Wolf & Company attended the Blockchain Tech Summit hosted by Global Startup Ecosystem. Entrepreneurs, pioneers, and investors gathered in New York City to discuss the major challenges, rewards, and innovations in blockchain technology.

We've compiled the summit's top takeaways showing how this expanding technology could impact your industry and organization.

Industry Potential

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is the single most frequently cited blockchain use case—and for good reason. Remember the E. coli outbreak related to romaine lettuce in 2018? All romaine lettuce across the country was pulled off shelves and destroyed. Turns out, the outbreak was attributed to not only a single farm, but a specific four-day harvest on that farm. With blockchain, the source of the outbreak could have been identified almost immediately, allowing officials to neutralize the threat sooner (and save millions of dollars in the process).

Furthermore, blockchain use would increase efficiency and transparency from warehousing to delivery to payment. It would also offer better visibility into the sales process and prepare inventories on demand, significantly reducing waste.

Pharmaceuticals

22% of pharmaceuticals sold nationwide are fraudulently created knockoffs. Blockchain could trace the pharmaceuticals through the production and distribution processes, allowing for verification of product authenticity at each step.

Healthcare

Blockchain can streamline the organization of medical information, and could allow patients to own their medical records and control what information gets shared and with whom. Also, blockchain could increase the traceability of active drug ingredients, which could lead to decreased patient harm.

Payments

There are a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to international monetary transfers. Blockchain is currently working on allowing instant transfers across borders, regardless of currency.

Product Development

Blockchain technology could improve the process of copyright and patent filing. If a copyright or patent is submitted, filed, and accepted on the blockchain network, there is an irrefutable chain of custody. The blockchain will have a full record of the submitted filing, which can limit future infringements and lawsuits.

Widespread Use

Major companies have already begun implementing steps and procedures to prepare for the onset of blockchain technology. Microsoft and Amazon are already developing their own private blockchain technology.

Challenges

Although this technology can actively accelerate various components of business, there are multiple challenges preventing or limiting widespread use of blockchain.

Regulatory Issues

Currently, there is little regulation surrounding crypto. And of what regulations do exist, many crypto issuers refuse to acknowledge that these rules apply to them. This allows bad actors to operate in this space—serving to tarnish crypto and blockchain in general. However, among a host of other industry organizations, the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance is currently working to develop solutions and regulations for blockchain.

Talent Gap

If even a tiny fraction of the currently identified use cases come to fruition, an astronomical number of blockchain developers will be needed.

Environmental Concerns

Some elements of blockchain technology require an enormous amount of electrical energy. However, if blockchain can increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of data storage, it may also be able to mitigate some of the electrical energy usage.

Crypto Concepts

Crypto is currently one of the largest uses for blockchain technology. This conference highlighted the relationship between crypto and blockchain currency, and how crypto is making its mark on the investment industry.

Experts looked into questions surrounding crypto as a “store of value” or a “medium of exchange,” and dug into whether crypto is a new investment class. Although this concept is highly debated, an entire subset of the investment industry is being built around crypto based on the belief that it is a separate investment class. From crypto hedge funds and crypto investment advisors, to crypto custodians and crypto analysts, this technology is revolutionizing the investment industry.

Conclusion

At the rate that blockchain technology is gaining popularity, it might soon become a regular factor across multiple industries. Don’t get left behind.

Fun Facts

  • According to the Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide from the International Data Corporation (IDC), global spending on blockchain tech solutions is expected to reach $2.9 billion in 2019—which is a drastic 88.7% increase from the $1.5 billion spent on the technology in 2018. IDC forecasts blockchain spending to grow rapidly from 2018-2022, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 76%, reaching a total expense of $12.4 billion by 2022.
  • Walmart successfully used this technology to enhance their supply chain management. Together with IBM, Walmart improved traceability of origin on their mangoes from 7 days to 2.2 seconds.
  • It is currently estimated that there are 25,000 blockchain developers in the world—but, by one estimate discussed at the conference, the blockchain development for supply chain alone could require two million developers.