Five Industries to Be Disrupted by Blockchain: Energy, IAM, Food Supply, and More

picture shows transition from fiat money to blockchain

For most people, blockchain is synonymous with Bitcoin. While Bitcoin was the first successful implementation of blockchain technology, the concept existed as far back as 1991.

When Bitcoin first emerged in early 2009, its limitations quickly became apparent. Because “mining” was so energy-consuming, the cryptocurrency was hardly scalable. Promptly, a slew of non-Bitcoin blockchain technologies, such as Ethereum, ensued that promised to do away with the performance problems inherent in the first cryptocurrency. For instance, Hyperledger Fabric can handle 10k transactions per second. By comparison, a hypothetical maximum for Bitcoin is 7 transactions per second.

Despite the fact that blockchain hasn’t overcome all of its limitations yet, it’s a highly desirable piece of tech that lots of companies are keeping tabs on. And the main reasons are:

  • Security by design
  • Decentralization
  • Ease of automation

Five industries soon to be disrupted by blockchain

Besides facilitating various financial operations, blockchain could make services more efficient in a number of other industries.

1. Energy

When it comes to energy, there are issues, like reducing C2O emissions and preventing power waste, for which easy solutions don’t seem to exist. At least it appeared so before blockchain came around. Now, thanks to blockchain, we’ve got the technology that lets us reward clean energy producers and re-route unused extra energy via peer-to-peer networks.

One of my personal favorites is the Brooklyn Microgrid project. The idea is to enable people who have solar panels on their rooftops to sell excess power to neighbors via blockchain. And in case of a natural disaster, a microgrid like this shouldn’t black out as easily as a centralized power plant, because it doesn’t have a central point of failure.

Swytch is another platform that wants to leverage blockchain to reduce carbon emission. It hands out tokens to citizens for environmentally-friendly efforts. For instance, you can earn rewards by generating renewable energy, driving an electric vehicle, or performing other verifiable sustainability efforts.

There are many more blockchain-powered startups in the energy field, and the list goes way beyond the already mentioned ones. For instance, there are WePower, Grid+, and many others.

2. Food Supply

Blockchain technologies are already being used in agriculture to monitor irrigation, pests, and beyond. And now proponents of organic, non-GMO, and locally-grown foods look for ways to support sustainable agriculture by making clean-labelling of products cheaper and easier.

According to Provenance, the majority of today’s shoppers want to know the origins of their food. Provenance tracks food journey throughout the supply chain and tells you where, from what, and by whom a particular product was made.

Ripe.io offers a similar service. Before starting their own company, Ripe’s founders got involved in The Internet of Tomatoes project by Analog Devices where they learned how much data could be collected in the food growing process, and it almost never was. They saw this as an opportunity for bringing transparency to the food supply chain. Today, Ripe uses a combination of blockchain, IoT, and artificial intelligence to track food “from farm to fork.”

Another example is Walmart, who recently asked suppliers of leafy greens to track their supply chain using blockchain.

3. ID and Access Management

We all know that usernames and passwords are easily stolen and are, thus, insecure. The rise of alternative authentication methods only confirms that. So many startups have been coming up with simpler and more secure mechanisms for access management – based on blockchain.

For example, Uport is an open identity system that allows users to register their identity on Ethereum, send and request credentials, and securely manage keys and data. One of its pilot projects in Zug, Switzerland, was to register all residents’ IDs on the blockchain to provide them access to government services, such as e-voting.

Another example is Token Ring, which is dubbed “one ring to rule them all.” All you have to do is to pair it with the Token app, scan your fingerprint and - voila - now you have instant access to lots of devices and services with the tap of, well ... a ring.

4. Music

The music industry has long been plagued by piracy and record labels imposing unfavorable conditions on artists. But there is a way to create fairer music marketplaces for both listeners and musicians – by putting them in the blockchain.

Gareth Emery co-founded Choon, which allows artists to earn cryptocurrency for streaming their works, and do so almost immediately. Listeners can earn tokens, too, by creating and sharing thematic playlists of their unique design. Besides, artists can raise funds for their projects and let other artists remix their materials, if they choose to.

Another upcoming project in this area is Mycelia by Imogen Heap. It states its mission as “connecting the dots for music makers,” essentially allowing artists to distribute music on their own terms, without involving the middleman.

5. Healthcare

Any database of health records is a Fort Knox of sensitive data that’s tricky to collect and tricky to keep safe. But what if both the collection and storage of these data could be completely secure? This is exactly the kind of promise that blockchain holds in regards to healthcare.

Patientory offers a secure way to consolidate and share personal medical records. It is a good fit for any unified government healthcare database.

Another highly interesting company is Nebula Genomics. Founded by a long-time researcher in the field of genetics, Professor George Church of Harvard and MIT, it uses blockchain to enhance the security around genomic data collection, analysis, and delivery. Users can even earn money by providing access to their anonymized DNA data. These data are of high interest to large research companies that work to eradicate genetic disease.

Last but not least, many are familiar with the Estonian government efforts to digitalize as many aspects of their operations as possible. While Estonia is the first country in the world to offer e-Residency, its e-Health authorities are already taking steps to secure over 1 million patient records with a blockchain.

In conclusion

Of course, there are other industries that could see disruption by blockchain in the near future. Among them are banking, insurance, logistics, and IoT, just to name a few. And maybe this will be the subject of our next post. Stay tuned!