Social Implication of Blockchain
For the past several decades humans have been using the same traditional centralized systems. These centralized systems include banks and governments. We use banks to send and receive money from all over the world. We trust banks to send and receive our money, therefore; we rely on these centralized systems as intermediaries that negotiate on our behalves. However, for the past few years these financial institutions have been continuously associated with corruption. In these centralized systems records are stored and cleared by a central authority; therefore, the records are susceptible to fraud. Blockchain, a decentralized new technology that has just emerged, allows people to transact with each other from all around the world without the need of an intermediary. Blockchain allows information to be stored into a digital ledger and distributed across all participants, therefore; all the records stored are open to the public. Blockhain allows greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency and speed, and reduced costs. Due to all these mentioned benefits of Blockchain, numerous banks have started exploring ways to implement Blockchain technology. According to Santander InnoVentures, Blockchain technologies could reduce banks’ infrastructural costs by $15-20bn a year by 2022.
Bitcoin, the first application of Blockchain, is a decentralized digital currency that enables payments to be sent between users without an intermediary, such as banks. Bitcoin has allowed transactions to occur all around the world in a fast and efficient manner. Instead of being charged high costs by traditional banks and money transfer services, Bitcoin is being used to securely transfer money all over the world for lower costs. Bitcoin has been associated with money laundering, drug trafficking, and extortion but the opposite is true. The use of Bitcoin eliminates middlemen, thereby it may be used as a potential tool in the fight against corruption. As mentioned earlier, the transactions are stored into a public digital ledger that is accessible to all participants making it possible to track how each dollar is being spent. This type of financial tracking that is a result of using Bitcoins helps discourage bribery. One of Bitcoin’s most attractive features is its security. Unlike most payment network operators, Bitcoin is open source meaning programmers may continuously review it for flaws, and therefore, reducing the possibility of it getting hacked. Bitcoin miners also play a major role in bitcoin’s security. Bitcoin mining is performed by powerful computers that solve complex computational math problems. By solving these problems Bitcoin miners produce Bitcoins and verify the transactions that occur. Although Bitcoin has numerous benefits and is continuously proving to be an alternative for fiat currency, Bitcoin also faces some complications. An example of such complications is Bitcoin’s prices volatility. Until today Bitcoin’s price has not yet stabilized at a certain value. For example, in 2017 Bitcoin’s value spiked from 930$ in the beginning of the year to nearly 20,000$ by the end of 2017 just to fall back to 14,000 in less than a week. As long as Bitcoin’s value remains to change massively people will argue that it’s erroneous for Bitcoin to replace fiat currency.
Blockchain may also be implemented in the healthcare system to help eradicate counterfeit medicines and manage electronic medical records. Medicinal counterfeits are becoming a growing and pervasive threat to worldwide health. According to the World Health Organization, around 10% of medicines across the world are counterfeit. As a tamperproof public ledger, Blockchain is capable of providing transparency in the pharmaceutical supply chain. As with Bitcoin Blockchain may be used in a way that requires each drug to be verified and time stamped. Data which may include the manufacturer, distributor, transporter, customs official, and store owner is then published into the public ledger where users are able to track the drug as it moves through the supply chain making it extremely difficult to tamper with the drug. Electronic medical records provide doctors medical information about their patients. The main problem with today’s electronic medical records is the lack of interoperability between systems. What this means is that the vendors that offer the electronic medical records software make it difficult for doctors to exchange patients’ medical information with one another. However, a certain modified version of Blockchain may enable patients’ records to be stored into a safe and private ledger that is accessible by the patients’ doctors. By using Blockchain technology can authorize any individual to access their medical information. Using Blockchain technology in the healthcare system will require huge amounts of storage space that may not yet exist in current Blockchain technologies; therefore, it is important to continue developing new forms of Blockchain technology with larger storage space that may be used in the healthcare industry.