Blockchain 101 - Applications

Walter Pinson, Smashing Boxes President & COO and Lindsey Morgan, Innovation Fellow
June 7, 2020

Throughout the past decade, blockchain technology has gone from a new financial experiment with a cult following, to a potential revolutionizer of data management. As blockchain has gained more and more traction, many people still struggle to understand: what exactly is blockchain? And why would anyone want to use it? In this series, we answer those very questions and provide the foundation needed to understand blockchain and cryptocurrency.

If you have been following our series, we have discussed what blockchains and ledgers are and taken a closer look at the consensus protocols that enable blockchains. Now as we begin to look towards the future, it is helpful to take a step back and understand the history of blockchain.

Blockchain technology was initially introduced in 1991 by Stuart Harber and W. Scott Stornetta. While the theory was interesting, it took almost 20 years before it began to be applied. In 2009, someone under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency. It is unknown who Satoshi Nakamoto is or if it is one person or multiple people. Bitcoin gained a significant following, and by 2013, the Bitcoin market had reached $1 billion. Also in 2013, Vitalik Buterin crowdsourced the funds to launch Ethereum. The Ethereum blockchain not only executed transactions, but also enabled users to create smart contracts and applications (dApps).

Blockchain history
Figure 1: Blockchain History

Blockchain, as we know it today, has many benefits. It is very secure, stable, fast, and transparent. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. It is difficult to modify data, it requires a lot of energy, and it is not very scalable.

blockchain benefits and challenges
Figure 2: Blockchain Benefits and Challenges

In the future, blockchain can bring significant value to many businesses.

  • Banking Transactions – cheaper and faster payments (especially internationally)
  • Record Management – securely store anything from medical records to property records
  • Smart Contracts – enable secure automated contracts
  • Supply Chain – track and verify products through the supply chain
  • Energy Trading – track and trade electricity and other resources
  • Voting – reduce election fraud and increase transparency
Blockchain Business Applications
Figure 3: Future Blockchain Business Applications

Today, the biggest application of blockchain is in cryptocurrency. Continue to the next section of this series, Blockchain 102 – Digital Currency, to learn more about how cryptocurrency works.

Want to learn more about how blockchain can bring value to your business? Reach out to us here.