Tech Zone

Beyond Cryptocurrency: Unlocking the Potential of Blockchain in Non-Financial Arenas

AI tools are built on datasets and algorithms that are embedded with bias and discrimination. The only way to eliminate this issue is to bring diverse people into the AI development, deployment, and monitoring process. to the new remote-first workplace. - By KAREN WHITE

Does anyone outside of tech experts really understand Web3 networks and the blockchain? It is possible – and in fact, critical for the years ahead. These emerging tools are undoubtedly complex, yet while most often associated with cryptocurrency, these tools are rapidly becoming useful in many non-financial applications. Blockchain technology in particular has the potential for broad usage. It is an immutable ledger that can keep participants in a particular network fully accountable. This matters because it creates the potential to elevate results through better accountability of processes, participants, and inventories. It can increase trust among counterparties and reduce risk by allowing transactions only if set criteria are met and the technology can verify the data. Thinking about blockchain in these terms opens up a new world of uses.

The New Dynamic of Decentralized Networks and Blockchain

In explaining Web3, McKinsey & Company describes the three primitives of Web 3 as blockchain, smart contracts, and digital assets and tokens (cryptocurrencies) that are layered on top of the first two. Web3 is the “big picture” of the decentralized networks created with distributed ledgers. These are databases hosted by a network of computers and not a single server like the Internet.

Blockchain is the underlying technology of smart contracts and cryptocurrencies. However, many more uses for blockchain are now emerging. The first major non-financial use was with nonfungible tokens or NFTs (tokens not associated with currency). NFTs create digital deed ownership records of digital objects like artwork. Blockchain and NFT principles have since expanded into tickets, real estate deeds, and inventory tracking.

Blockchain Delivers Benefits Across Industries

As the blockchain moves into other non-financial spaces, it brings increased speed of execution and accuracy in actions. This is true in human-driven systems, and also in the way that computer programs and verification systems talk with each other to complete contracts, verify delivery, and manage data flow. Within the realm of supply chain management, uses a blockchain-based platform to track and verify the authenticity of luxury goods, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. For example, blockchain can classify retail medications to prevent counterfeiting and confirm their legitimacy. Smart contracts can then manage health data, speeding up access to patient data while protecting patient privacy within the laws. Blockchain-powered smart contracts can also enhance collaborations between drug manufacturers, suppliers, and end-users.

Environmental sustainability is another area where the blockchain can assist. A real-world application is the innovative startup Brooklyn Microgrid, an energy marketplace for locally generated solar energy. The permissioned data platform creates localized energy marketplaces that are peer-to-peer. The system uses a microgrid to connect energy users locally and manages energy generation, storage, load balancing, and local transactions. Selling excess energy via a secure blockchain network is expected to grow exponentially.

In the automotive industry, Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) and Lexus exhibited at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January 2023. TGR organized an “NFT Digital Stamp Rally” and made NFTs for attendees to showcase cars and engage consumers. AgroToken allows farmers to tokenize their grains, sell them, and receive upfront payments. Blockchain also enables the tracking of grains through the supply chain. Blockchain is used in education to secure student records and e-transcripts, automate course content, track and verify completion, and protect publishing and copyright rights.

Blockchain Delivers Benefits to Internal Business Processes

Blockchain in talent management supports a globalized labor market in many ways. It can provide a trusted link to validated talent suppliers and employee contracts. Other important benefits include tracking skills, verification of resume data, and employee database management.

Blockchain is already having a significant impact on global talent recruitment. The technology offers immutable candidate records, enhanced data security, smart hiring contracts, efficient verification of a job candidate’s qualifications, decentralized job platforms and access to a global talent pool on which candidate credentials are stored. These advantages support increased diversity hiring.

Blockchain technology is increasingly used in digital business marketing. Arianee, a Web3 solutions platform, has numerous partnerships with big-name brands like L’Oréal, Paris Fashion Week, and IBM. The company has expanded the use of blockchain for customer relationship management. Projects include an NFT for the Moncler brand’s Maya jacket that features Antoni Tudisco artwork and 10,000 free social tokens for YSL Beauty, owned by L’Oréal. The social tokens give access to brand initiatives. The Blockchain Talent Agency adds another benefit. The company helps blockchain companies recruit talent specifically interested in working for blockchain startups. This can help the startups land new funding and develop new products faster, propelling economic growth.

Arianee explains why it is pursuing web3 via blockchain projects, and the explanation describes the motivation to pursue the future of the technology. The company’s manifesto says, “The internet has grown into big black boxes tightly controlled by a few power players. Nothing we have created – from our social graph to our content – is usable outside of the platforms. Things were not always this way. So here we are, bulding legos over statues, open-source components over proprietary platforms, laying the foundation for the internet of the future.”

So Much More Ahead

Blockchain can be used in any organization that is managing financial or non-financial, business or social, or government or NGO projects and programs. By introducing full transparency and a ledger of activity that can’t be altered, it holds everyone accountable for actions, transactions, and fulfillment of contracts. This has the potential to elevate and streamline processes and interactions, boosting trust, reducing risk, and opening the door for new partnerships.

There is still a long way to go to integrate blockchain into operating models fully, but it is well on its way. When thinking about “blockchain” in the future, do not stop at cryptocurrency. It is already proving to be so much more useful in other areas that it is not hard to imagine blockchain-based spreading across all areas of business and society.

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