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How Blockchain Can Help Your Business

Written by Alexandru Buzdugan - 09 July 2018

Alexandru Buzdugan
Blockchain might be a new buzzword, but it's not going anywhere soon. Take some time to learn about it and how it can help your business.

Much has been said about this technology, especially in recent years, even though it first made its appearance in 2007. Follow me while I embark on a journey of discovery and understanding of what blockchain is and how we can use it in business.

What is blockchain ?

 First and foremost, blockchain is a public electronic ledger that can be openly shared among disparate users and that creates an unchangeable record of their transactions, each one time-stamped and linked to the previous one. 

 Each digital record or transaction in the thread is called a block, and it allows either an open or controlled set of users to participate in the electronic ledger.

 Blockchain can only be updated by consensus among participants in the system, and when new data is entered it can never be erased. The blockchain contains a true and verifiable record of each and every transaction ever made in the system.

OK, so what exactly does blockchain do ?

 As a peer-to-peer network, combined with a distributed time-stamping server, blockchain databases can be managed autonomously. There's no need for an administrator. In effect, the users are the administrator.

What industries are using it ?

 The fact that each blockchain record contains a unique cryptographic hash that is used to track that block, as well as others in the associated chain, means the data cannot be modified, making it perfect for record keeping and auditing purposes.

 Financial services has been the first industry to jump on board the blockchain wagon. But other industries such as healthcare have been quick to explore its use, too.

 For example, IBM Watson Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are exploring using blockchain for secure patient data exchange, including sensitive electronic medical records, clinical trials and data culled from mobile devices and wearables.

How can it help those industries ?

 Blockchain eliminates huge amounts of recordkeeping, which can get very confusing when there are multiple parties involved in a transaction.

 Genpact, for example, just released a service for finance and accounting that leverages blockchain-based smart contracts to capture all terms and conditions between a customer and an organization for an order.

 Accenture recently released a report that claimed blockchain technology could reduce infrastructure costs for eight of the world's ten largest investment banks by an average of 30%, "translating to $8 billion to $12 billion in annual cost savings for those banks." 

 The Bank of England is considering ways that it can use blockchain for payments, clearing and settlement.

 In another example, Acronis introduced blockchain technology in its True Image 2017 data backup software. The blockchain platform is used as a data certification and verification element a type of electronic document signing or notary service.

 As shown, many companies and startups are incorporating blockchain technology into their infrastructure to reduce costs, but even more are building entire applications using it.

Take, for example, Crypto Kitties.

So far, people have spent over $6.4 million on these virtual cats. The most expensive one, the genesis cat, recently sold for a whopping $115,000.

Building such applications is not only fun but also can be quite profitable.

 We could do it too.

Building C# blockchain applications using Stratis

Stratis is a flexible and powerful Blockchain Development Platform designed for the needs of real-world financial services businesses and other organisations that want to access the benefits of blockchain technologies without the overhead inherent in running their own network infrastructure. Stratis offers a turnkey solution that enables developers and businesses to develop, test and deploy blockchain-based applications quickly and easily, and without the costs and security concerns that would otherwise arise from in-house implementation.

Looking at what Stratis is offering, a blockchain application can be made using NStratis - the C# library based on NBitcoin.

Besides building we can store in the cloud also

 As we know, storage infrastructure has transformed into generally being very centralized. Rather than businesses and corporations hosting their own servers, many have migrated to the cloud. This turn toward centralization lets companies push workloads to larger, public clouds in order to utilize the storage infrastructure of large companies, like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

 Existing cloud storage options have a lot of advantages, but they remain quite expensive. Blockchain technologies provide vast opportunities in this industry, as they significantly reduce costs for data storage on top of providing an additional level of data security due to its decentralized nature. Also, blockchain makes it possible to circumvent data localization laws in certain countries and makes international businesses more flexible and mobile.

 An example of such a start-up is Storj. They offer distributed cloud storage powered by blockchain payments.

Conclusion

This is the first part of multiple articles I plan to write about this technology.

I think more often when people say blockchain they immediately think Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies like DodgeCoin.

Blockchain is the foundation on which all cryptocurrencies rely, and more than that I think it's a statement of change and progress.

Whether people love it or hate it, blockchain technology is here to stay.

       
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