By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire
⏰ 5-minute read
This is the fourth story in a series on blockchain for business.
Read part I, “Blockchain for Business, Explained.”
Read part II, “The Companies Using Blockchain Now, and What Yours Can Do to Stay Ahead.”
Read part III, “What Blockchain Technology Can Do for Your Business, According to Experts.”
Companies across the world are exploring blockchain to solve a variety of business problems.
Because the technology's decentralized ledger system serves as the backbone of Bitcoin, blockchain has long been associated with the finance industry. However, a CB Insights report from 2019 highlighted an additional 55 industries that blockchain could impact, including messaging, cloud storage, charity, media, healthcare and human resources.
The companies below are blockchain pioneers using the technology to develop new products and services aimed at challenging established industries. Understanding their work and blockchain’s diverse applications may inspire you to use blockchain to solve problems in your industry or develop a new company that challenges the status quo.
👉 If you’re new to the concept of blockchain, check out our introductory post before reading on.
1. Healthcare: BurstIQ
BurstIQ is a healthcare platform that connects large data sets to partners spanning business, government and research organizations. The platform offers applications such as HealthID, an immutable record of an individual's health history. It also functions as a database of healthcare information stored in the cloud and a global network that connects major healthcare players.
A combination of blockchain, big data and machine intelligence make BurstIQ possible. The company’s proprietary blockchain platform allows healthcare data to be managed and shared securely amongst providers, payers, life science companies and more, said CEO Frank Ricotta. It’s a permissioned network, meaning organizations only have access to the info they need, depending on their role in the healthcare system.
"I would predict a large proportion of health organizations will start utilizing some aspect of blockchain over the next 1-2 years," Ricotta said. "I am most excited about blockchain enabling true person-centric medicine … with an open and configurable sharing model between all parties."
"I would predict a large proportion of health organizations will start utilizing some aspect of blockchain over the next 1-2 years."
2. Philanthropy: BitGive
BitGive was the first registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit to use cryptocurrency to aid in worldwide humanitarian efforts. BitGive's donation platform, GiveTrack, is a blockchain-based system that allows donors to track the impact of their donations, including where the money goes and how it's used. GiveTrack allows nonprofits to be transparent with donors, sharing financial information and the impact of projects in real time.
BitGive Founder and Executive Director Connie Gallippi
"We believe that blockchain is the future of giving, as it allows for transparent and quick transactions that expand beyond all borders," said BitGive founder Connie Galllippi.
"We believe that blockchain is the future of giving, as it allows for transparent and quick transactions that expand beyond all borders."
3. Media & Journalism: Civil
Civil develops online tools to help readers around the world discover trusted journalists and stories on a decentralized platform. The team at Civil vets journalists and newsrooms according to standards of "ethical journalism as practiced around the world," per the Civil Constitution. In addition to publishing news stories, Civil offers a way for journalists and newsrooms to raise money from their readers.
According to CEO Matthew Iles, Civil is "an alternative approach to working for the big tech platforms where journalists and citizens instead work together to form their own platform."
Blockchain serves as the core of the technical infrastructure at Civil, which is intended to help transform "today's monopoly Internet into one owned and controlled by the people," Iles said. He noted that in the future, blockchain could "validate sources, decentralize reputation and personalize reader experience without violating privacy,” across the media industry.
4. Finance & Messaging: Sylo
Sylo is focused on developing technologies that "enable humans, rather than exploiting or restricting them," said co-founder and business director Dorian Johannink. The company's primary focus, the Sylo Smart Wallet, is a digital wallet that holds and trades cryptocurrency and includes a messaging system.
Sylo Co-Founder and Business Director Dorian Johannink
Blockchain isn’t the most efficient technology for a messaging platform, Johannink explained, so the messaging component of the Smart Wallet relies on several other decentralized technologies. Sylo primarily uses blockchain to manage the Smart Wallet’s financial transactions, allowing users to exchange assets without centralized control as in traditional banking.
Overall, blockchain allows Sylo to make the exchange of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum more user-friendly, Johannink said.
Storj Labs is using blockchain to bring better security, performance and cost-efficiency to enterprise cloud storage. According to VP of Operations John Gleeson, the company's Tardigrade platform is "the world's first enterprise-grade, decentralized cloud storage service."
Storj Labs pays hundreds of thousands of node operators -- folks who use computers to store data and provide access to files stored in its Tardigrade decentralized cloud storage service -- in STORJ token, the company’s own form of cryptocurrency that sits on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
👉 To learn more about node operators, check out this article from Coinmonks, a cryptocurrency publication.
Gleeson sees a future in which blockchain, in conjunction with containerization technologies, maximizes space in the cloud.
Efforts like Storj Labs’s will lead to the "Uber-ification of the cloud, whereby unused, over-provisioned storage and computing resources are aggregated to create a more efficient, performant and distributed cloud," he said.
Chronobank is a fintech company providing blockchain-enabled solutions at the intersection of human resources and finance. The company's LaborX platform connects workers and hiring managers using digital smart contracts, computer protocols that can negotiate and enforce worker-employer agreements. These contracts define workers’ scopes of work, handle disputes and make payments.
Chronobank's PaymentX app assists with cryptocurrency payments to workers, and TimeX is the company's peer-to-peer trading system.
Blockchain is the infrastructure that allows Chronobank's LaborX platform to operate securely, efficiently and with less overhead than other recruitment platforms, which can get slowed down by layers of intermediaries and gatekeepers.
Chronobank CEO Sergei Sergienko
"Blockchain offers the ideal way to store information securely, maintaining trust through transparency and auditability while also preserving all-important user privacy," said Chronobank CEO Sergei Sergienko. "It can speed up the process of finding work, earning money and getting paid, improving life for both workers and HR departments at every stage."
"[Blockchain] can speed up the process of finding work, earning money and getting paid, improving life for both workers and HR departments at every stage."
Provenance has built a blockchain platform for the finance industry that reimagines how assets are issued, traded and accessed. Provenance combines the benefits of a distributed and immutable blockchain with the ledger, registry and bilateral exchange functions used in assets and markets.
Provenance manages the entire cycle of financial assets, using blockchain to digitize and speed up paper-based processes, provide real-time settlement capabilities and add a layer of security and verification to cut down on data errors.
"We believe blockchain technology is the single most important technology for the financial industry today," said Provenance's Head of Americas, Jennifer Mitrenga Mayon. "[It] has the opportunity to automate virtually every aspect of traditional finance friction, resulting in lower costs, faster execution of trading [and] improved transparency and auditability of operations."
"[Blockchain] has the opportunity to automate virtually every aspect of traditional finance friction, resulting in lower costs, faster execution of trading [and] improved transparency and audit-ability of operations."
8. Customer Loyalty: Loyyal
Loyyal offers clients a platform on which to create and manage customer incentive programs. The tool can verify incentive programs quickly, letting airlines and credit card companies know “in real-time where each loyalty point is, how it was earned, and how it has been redeemed,” per the company website. There’s no more back-and-forth between program operators and partners. Blockchain’s distributed ledger confirms transactions instantaneously.
The tool increases profits, standardizes integration procedures and reduces costs by up to 80% for organizations that use it, according to Loyyal founder and CEO Gregory Simon.
Loyyal Founder and CEO Gregory Simon
He explained that most customers are drawn to Loyyal for its blockchain tech, but in the future, the app’s user experience will be its defining feature.
"Our initial market traction has been mostly based on the cost-savings benefits introduced by blockchain, but improvements to the program member experience will dominate evolutionary changes [in the industry]," said Simon.
9. Video Streaming: Livepeer
Livepeer offers an open video infrastructure aimed at providing high-quality video experiences that require less bandwidth, computing power and infrastructure needs.
According to CEO Doug Petkanics, the company "enables video transcoding at a 10 times reduction in price relative to the existing cloud and enterprise service providers."
Livepeer CEO Doug Petkanics.
Livepeer relies on Ethereum, a public blockchain network that runs code for decentralized applications and offers smart contracts and token payments. The platform handles a group of video encoders responsible for transcoding video into a single system. Blockchain allows for this open marketplace in which those with computing power can advertise to companies that need their services (i.e. a startup looking for cost-effective video transcoding during a live event), verify completed work and process peer-to-peer payments.
Petkanics believes that blockchain can make higher-quality, lower-cost video processing possible in his industry, all while requiring less resources.
"Open compute marketplaces traded and settled via blockchain technology will enable the most efficient pricing on resources like bandwidth, storage and compute available to video streaming applications," he said. With the advent of blockchain-based businesses, “the world will see empowering video applications in a variety of use cases that were not possible under traditional cost structures.”
🌱 The bottom line
Blockchain has the ability to make businesses more efficient in all types of industries. The technology is still in its infancy in terms of broad application, but blockchain-savvy pioneers are creating more useful applications every year.
A blockchain solution could help your current company or even cause you to jump-start a new business. Understanding the technology behind and the success of the companies above will get you thinking like a blockchain pro.