A matter of years ago, most people didn’t associate blockchain with anything other than cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple. The list goes on.
Since the technology was developed within the creation of bitcoin, there’s no doubt that it was blockchain’s uses within the financial sector that skyrocketed it to fame. At one point it felt like there were news articles every day about how people became millionaires through investing at the right time.
However, fast forward to 2019, and the world is becoming more aware of the varying uses of blockchain. What was previously the domain of tech experts and cryptocurrency fans is now becoming more mainstream. Awareness around the huge number of applications of blockchain is growing and some of these applications are being realised.
What do blockchain applications have in common?
All applications of blockchain have two ideals in common: The need for trust and the desire for transparency.
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Touted as “The New Technology of Trust”, blockchain’s foundations are explained well by Goldman Sachs:
“At its heart, a blockchain is a record of transactions, like a traditional ledger. These transactions can be any movement of money, goods or secure data—a purchase at a supermarket, for example, or the assignment of a government ID number…
…Blockchain is designed to store information in a way that makes it virtually impossible to add, remove or change data without being detected by other users.” (source)
That is to say, that human intervention within blockchain applications is almost impossible without others being aware of it. As such, trust in such applications is increased, simply due to their hugely transparent nature.
Blockchain’s applications for social good
Alongside a range of other uses, blockchain’s nature lends itself to use within applications for social good due to its openness. It allows for progress to be made across various sectors, without the intervention of people with ulterior motives.
As such, whilst it may be most known for making people rich, blockchain also has many, much more selfless applications. Harnessed correctly, it has the potential to utterly change the landscape of our society, removing corruption and encouraging ethical and environmental progress.
Blockchain’s applications for social good: Charity
One main issue that blockchain is seeking to eradicate is the lack of security within charitable donations. For many, there is scepticism related to where donations actually go and whether they are being used in the way that the donator intended.
The transparency of blockchain can help with this uncertainty, eliminating charities that misuse funds and allowing those that genuinely help good causes to get as much funding as possible.
Take the applications GiftCoin, for example, which was founded last year. Whilst it’s still in its pilot stages, it seeks to allow donors to track exactly where their money is spent.
On top of this, Blockchain simply allows making donations to charities easier. Disberse, whose partners include Oxfam, The Netherlands Red Cross and Start Network, has pilot programmes which aim to make it more “efficient to send and receive funds between donors and aid organizations around the world”.
Finally, more and more charities are accepting donations in the form of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Anton Mozgovoy points out several: “the Common Collection accepts donations in bitcoins to help disaster victims and refugees from hot spots, regularly providing real-life reports on saved lives.
The World Food Program can also be supported by bitcoins. That is why the blockchain project Building Blocks was launched. Contributions to the charity fund are aimed at helping Syrian refugees in Jordan…
Blockchain’s applications for social good: Climate-change
We know. It’s hard to imagine how something like blockchain could help with stopping climate change. Just hear us out!
As the United Nations website points out, blockchain could help to “boost climate action”. It could lead to improved carbon emissions trading, facilitate clean energy trading, enhance climate finance flows and create improved tracking and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions. There’s even a Blockchain Climate Institute made up of 80 experts from across the globe.
That means that peers could buy and sell renewable energy resources from each other, that financial transactions related to climate action (including charity donations) could be made transparent and that we would be left with higher quality data on the current state of our carbon problems.
Combined with other technologies and governmental action, this is something that could hugely influenced our futures.
Blockchain’s applications for social good: Governmental transparency
The governmental applications of blockchain are seemingly endless. It can assist with everything from welfare distribution, cutting system losses and making it more effective, to within legislation records, utilising decentralised ledger to keep records more securely and transparently
As Mohit Mamoria highlights in this article by Jorge Barba, blockchain “has many applications for the public sector that can improve the quality of government services, safeguard property rights, prevent fraud, cut red tape and waste while improving transparency”.
One brilliant example of a Blockchain-based company seeking to make governments fairer is Votem. Voting through the platform makes elections more transparent, as well as accessible and verifiable. If it, or something like it, were used on a large scale in general elections here in the UK, it drastically reduces the chances of electoral fraud.
Similarly, OSCity has the aim of transparency within governments that already exist, with a focus on addressing the misappropriation of funds. It has already been invested in by UNICEF’s innovation fund.
There’s no doubt in our minds that blockchain will soon hit the mainstream as more than just a system to be used within cryptocurrency transactions.
Its applications within the realms of social good – as a way to encourage people to donate to charity, a way to make voting secure and a way to encourage climate awareness – make it invaluable as a society that is seeking transparency and honesty.
In the era of “fake news”, its a technology thats value cannot be understated.