There was a lot of news in the cryptocurrency space over the last few weeks. Good, bad and ugly. While the interests of many rests solely in cryptocurrency and the returns on investment people have received from it the true hero of the show is the blockchain technology that cryptocurrencies are built on. Some cryptocurrencies are tokens that are built for specific purposes. The recent NFT boom is one example. These blockchain and cryptocurrency applications give us solutions to real-world problems and provide insights into the future.
Content tracking and royalties
One interesting application of blockchain technology is in the tracking of music and other creative works online. This ensures that firstly original information about any content is displayed wherever it appears on the internet. Secondly this ability to track the content’s usage anywhere on the internet enables better tracking and following up of royalties. This is an important development for the world in general and Zimbabwe in particular. Mediachain is an example of such a platform and it was recently acquired by Spotify.
Supply chain logistics monitoring
Supply chain management can get ridiculously complicated and that is at the best of times. Depending on the industry there can be a multiplicity of moving parts in a supply chain. With the world moving to greater consciousness about the source and custody chain many of the products we purchase this application of blockchain was inevitable. An example of such a project is Shipchain which focuses on shipment and logistics tracking.
Decentralised cloud storage
This is the application of blockchain that got me excited. Imagine the ability to rent out hard drive space on your computer that you are not utilising and getting paid for it. Projects like Filecoin (the cryptocurrency used to pay for this) are doing just that. They take a file uploaded to the internet by a user and break it into many small parts then spread the encrypted parts across users on their blockchain and pay rent for the storage space.
The Zimbabwean in relates strongly to the complications involved with identification documents. There are blockchain projects that are looking at addressing some of these issues. A blockchain ledger is a public record of information that is decentralised, no central authority operates it but everybody on the blockchain operates it. The Illinois blockchain initiative is looking at ways to implement this blockchain technology in the issuance and security around identification documents such as birth certificates, Ids, voter registration, social security and more.
For content creators, the issue of monetisation and remuneration is a huge conversation. While the internet is loaded with free information and content, providers would welcome systems that monetise their content. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is a cryptocurrency project that is used to pay webmasters and content generators for time spent on their websites. It monetises the attention that people pay, no pun intended. The coin is active and they claim quite a wide user base that continues to grow.
I’m sure many are familiar with the Bit Torrent scene but for those who aren’t it’s a peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing system that breaks files down into small parts (bits) to transfer them over the internet. Bit Torrents are associated with the scourge of piracy but they are a legitimate file-sharing method. The Bit Torrent Token is a cryptocurrency that is used to pay file providers (seeders) for making files available to users (leechers). The cryptocurrency is active and doing very well.
Bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency was built and sold as a money transfer platform. The thing is, the decentralised aspect brought a lot of questions about the use of such platforms for illegal money transfers across borders including money laundering. There are blockchain projects underway that are looking at ways of overcoming this challenge, using the decentralisation of the blockchain as an advantage in the fight against money laundering.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that these are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other blockchain projects are on the way to solving real-world problems and providing useful solutions.