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Exploring other applications of DLT

In this article, we look at several use cases of DLT in several different sectors.
A hand holding a smartphone. The background is a city with lines joining the buildings indicating network connection.

We’ve just explored a small number of blockchain’s use cases. Blockchain could have a tremendous, transformational and disruptive impact for many industries and sectors. Not only providing a new digital infrastructure, but also leading to brand new business models.

As long as there is a need to share information between multiple stakeholders where trust is an issue, blockchain can be used. Several novel use cases applying blockchain technology in various sectors are presented below. Remember: these just represent a snapshot of projects that are in development!

Loyalty programmes

Loyalty programmes are used in airlines, finance, hospitality and retail sectors to name a few. One issue with different loyalty schemes is that consumers are unable to use rewards across different companies and organisations. This is because of the use of disparate and segmented systems by different loyalty scheme providers. This limits cross-marketing and potential revenue and growth opportunities. Blockchain technology can enable different providers to establish trust in the collection and sharing of rewards between multiple stakeholders. An example of an implemented project like this is Singapore Airlines and their Kriss Flyer loyalty programme, where points from flying with Singapore Airlines can be spent with other organisations and vice versa.

Insurance

Insurance companies often have many different stakeholders involved to effectively run their operations. Multi-party operations are at the core of the insurance industry. Stakeholders range from brokers and agents to underwriters, providers and customers. Consider the following example of car insurance:

A customer may use a broker to purchase their insurance. Their car details need to be checked against DVLA records, the driver’s details and identity need to be confirmed, their credit rating needs to be verified, and payment needs to be taken. If they claim, then multiple external parties may need to be brought into the claims process.
In this environment, blockchain can reduce the challenges of having to share records in the processing of claims. This can then lead to more efficient and cheaper business operations and better satisfaction for customers. An example of an implemented project like this is from Metlife on Gestational Diabetes Insurance, that automatically pays claims if there is a diagnosis made by a healthcare professional, without requiring the insured person to claim.
Advertisement settlements rating and measurements systems tend to make it extremely difficult to reliably know the precise number of audience impressions achieved with any digital advertisement. Nearly 50% of ads also fail to reach their intended audience [1]. Fraud is also rampant, with at least $7 billion of digital advertising costs wasted and intermediaries making approximately 60% profit from advertising spending [2]. A blockchain-based system can reduce the need for intermediaries, reduce costs, and importantly record advertisement and transactional information between all those in the ecosystem. This would provide greater transparency in an opaque system. McDonald’s, Nestle and Virgin have started a project to use blockchain to better manage their advertisement settlement processes.

Government

Stringent data security and reconciliation are important aspects for government—crucial for identity, property ownership and elections for instance. The accuracy of public records is paramount for ensuring trust in the legal system. Governments face challenges unlike those in other domains. Current government systems are often slow, complicated, wasteful, and often prone to abuse. Blockchain and DLT systems can provide a better infrastructure where the government is able to maintain better data security and give greater privacy for data owners—helping create streamlined solutions where government services are needed. An example of a project that UCL CBT associates were involved in is the use of DLT on the UK’s Land Registry, dramatically reducing the time taken for a conveyancing process.

Healthcare

Different record-keeping systems mean that patient data and medical histories are often incomplete, conflicting, and ambiguous. This makes sharing of patient data difficult and prone to errors. Also, patient data is extremely sensitive, so there are few reliable systems for patients to share accurate data that they have control over. Blockchain-based systems can make sure that records are more complete, and allow secure sharing. This can empower patients to have greater control over their data. There are many blockchain projects in healthcare taking place and you can find out more about them in this blogpost on Built In.

Trade Finance

Trade Finance refers to the financing of goods travelling across borders (being imported and exported). Current trade finance processes are carried out in an extremely manual way, using many paper documents. There is also poor tracking and management of financed assets. This is particularly relevant due to the cross-border nature of trading. Also, SME access to this type of financing is difficult due to their lack of verifiable credit history. A blockchain-based system can initially bring the benefits of digitisation, and securely store and exchange contractual information related to coordinating trade logistics via a ledger. This not only streamlines processes but also enables them to be real-time. Smart contract usage can also automate a lot of the current manual processing. An example of an implemented project like this is the Marco Polo Network (launched in 2017) that aims to facilitate a ledger-based system for global trade financing. It has already seen numerous successful trade finance transactions take place on it.

Your own situation

Have any of the above use cases impacted you? Are any of them relevant to your business sector? Can you find other examples to share with your fellow learners?

References

1. Nielsen R. Half of online campaigns fail to reach target audience. 15 December 2016. MarketingWeek. Available from: marketingweek.com.
2. Burgi M. What’s Being Done to Rein In $7 Billion in Ad Fraud. 21 February 2016. Adweek. Available from: adweek.com.

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Introduction to Blockchain Technology and Applications

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