In just the last few years, Blockchain has been one of the most talked about trends in the tech industry. This has led some companies to even go so far as to add the term ‘Blockchain’ to their business name in the hopes of catching the wave. And for good reason, Blockchain has the potential to change just about everything about our daily lives, from cleaning the world’s oceans to helping you pay for your coffee, With so many Blockchain applications out there, it can be easy to get lost in the noise.

This is why we have put together 7 powerful but less publicized Blockchain applications. Our hope is that we can show that while cryptocurrencies and data storage are cool, Blockchain is only getting started and has so much more potential than we seem to hear about. Without further ado, let’s look at these 7 Blockchain applications you probably haven’t heard about yet and what they mean for the future.

1. Digital identity

In the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, data security, especially of personal information, has never been more important. Many believe that they obvious solution can be found through Blockchain applications that keep information secure, while still being accessible by the right people who need it. Although there isn’t a definitive place to house your digital identity, the technology need can already be found within the Blockchain.

As it currently stands, the way it would work is users would have the ownership of a private key that unlocks or allows access to third-parties on a case-by-case basis. Since the owner of the key is the owner of the data, this allows a secure way to manage your online or digital identity without opening up unwanted organizations to vulnerable personal information.  

2. Smart contracts

The next of our Blockchain applications that we will look at is smart contracts, something that can be used in countless ways across the Blockchain. Although now they are much more technologically advanced, the original ‘smart’ contracts were first created in 1994 by Nick Szabo. Szabo realized that a decentralized ledger could be used to offer a secure and transparent alternative to normal contracts.

Over the years, this technology has only continued to grow and evolve into something truly powerful for business application. In fact, we can see the value of smart digital contracts with companies like DocuSign, who just made a splash with their recent IPO. As more of our contracts are converted to Blockchain applications, the more secure our data will become.

3. Blockchain IoT

Another emerging technology that seems to only be getting started is the Internet of Things or IoT. So far, IoT devices and platforms have done a great job of helping us connect to just about everything around us, making our lives easier. However, as more devices come on the market, the less secure IoT becomes. Enter Blockchain IoT, a combination of two technologies that makes IoT far more secure.

Although there is at this point no robust IoT Blockchain applications, there soon will be. These devices will allow you to connect as many devices as you want to your IoT network through the smart Blockchain ledger, keeping your data secure no matter where you are connected.

4. Secure medical records

Speaking of keeping data secure, Blockchain applications aren’t just for tech companies, but have been making their way into healthcare as well. Due to the personal information found in most medical records as well as the complex transactions involved in healthcare, Blockchain is the perfect tool for performing all the tasks necessary to streamline healthcare services.

In fact, a project named MedRec is already using Blockchain technology to keep an electronic medical record and provide a secure mechanism for both keeping and recording them. Essentially akin to a Blockchain CRM, as more projects like MedRec and Tierion pop up, the more efficient and secure the healthcare industry will become.

5. Decentralized notary

Based off of the Blockchain feature of timestamping, decentralized notaries are quickly gaining traction in the world of Blockchain applications. Since the whole network validates certain pieces of data at particular times, it essentially proves the existence of something at a particular time. This is something that could be proven in a court of law, similar to how notaries work already.

According to Manuel Aráoz, a Buenos Aires, Argentina-based developer: “As the Blockchain is a public database, it is a distributed sort of consensus; your document becomes certified in a distributed sort of way.” Manuel has already created a cryptographic notary system himself, and it’s obvious that this is one of many Blockchain applications that has massive potential we may not even comprehend yet.

6. Automating regulation

Due to the flexible, yet highly secure nature of Blockchain applications, many governments are considering using Blockchain in order to automate regulation. As Blockchain has progressed, most of the code put into the system can related directly to regulatory legal terms. This means that the Blockchain can analyze data, see if it matches up with regulations, and either permit or report it depending on if it meets these standards.

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, more government regulations and rules will need to be put in place in order to protect citizens across the globe. These sort of Blockchain applications show how revolutionary this technology can be to improving efficiency across countless processes, both at a local, state, and national level.

7. Voting

The last Blockchain application we will look at is one that can have global consequences: Voting. More specifically, digital voting. So far, the biggest barrier for those hoping to disrupt current voting procedures has been security. However, with Blockchain technology, citizens can log on with their unique key and place a vote that only the would be able to.

So far, Denmark has been the only country to successfully use Blockchain to vote, although both Estonia and Norway have attempted to as well.  When you consider how many non-participants there are in current elections, using Blockchain to secure voting could have radical effects on both turnout and results of elections everywhere from the U.S. to Malaysia.

A future built on Blockchain

While you may have been thinking at the beginning of this, “What is Blockchain?” we hope that by now you have seen how Blockchain applications will affect our future going forward. As this technology progresses and new applications arise, it will be up to us as a collective society to put in the proper regulations and best practices to ensure we are creating a better future for later generations.

Our hope is that you will take this knowledge and begin looking for ways in which Blockchain technology can improve the processes around you. It will be through continuous improvement and innovation that we will be able to achieve the true potential of Blockchain and maximize the efficiency and security of our world.