• 4 practical ways to use Blockchain in your business Dec 7, 2020
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    So, blockchain is going mainstream. The shared digital ledger technology, invented back in 2008 to underpin Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is no longer the preserve of crypto enthusiasts, cyber-geeks and economic libertarians. In an increasingly digitised and globalised world, business are faced with growing problems – long and complex supply chains, data storage, transactions, payments, fraud, security and privacy being just some of them. Blockchain could be the answer to all these issues, and the world’s biggest companies are now racing to adopt the tech in their operations. It seems to be no longer a matter of “if” blockchain will totally revolutionise business processes for everyone, but “when”.

    Here are 4 ways you can use blockchain in your business.

    Payments & Money Transfers

    Facilitating these was a major reason why blockchain was invented and it has got enormous potential for business processes. Firstly, with all transactions are transparent on the virtual ledger, all parties have shared access to the same records with no concealment of data. There is no longer any need to reconcile separately held documents and records (such as invoices and billing statements), so payments can be made almost instantly with no paperwork delays. The tech is not based in a single country, so payments can be made across borders just as quickly. Not only is it faster, but it will save you money too. Using blockchain means transactions go directly from buyer to seller (and vice versa), so you don’t need to go through a third-party middleman financial institution. The numerous fees – origination fees, transfer fees, receiving fees (and if your business is international, banks will usually take a percentage on foreign exchange fees too) you currently have to pay don’t apply when you use blockchain.

    Security & Data Storage

    Blockchain tech has excellent applications for the security and data storage aspect of your business. Over the last decade many companies have opted to solve their storage issues with organisations like Google and Microsoft Azure, but these can be costly options and their highly-centralised nature have also led to security concerns. There have been some high-profile incidents where hackers have compromised systems and stolen data. It is a massive concern for companies all over the world, with the extent of the issue being revealed in a 2020 report from Sophos (1) - 70% of respondents had experienced a security issue in the year before the report was published and 96% were worried about their cloud security. Blockchain can store data far more cheaply than these centralised platforms and the highly decentralised nature of the tech means hackers need to break through all parts of the chain simultaneously to gain access, an incredibly difficult task. The deep cryptography of blockchain also means the sensitive financial and personal data of the parties involved is protected to a higher degree than with traditional systems. You, your clients and partners can feel safe with blockchain.

    Supply Chain Management

    This is one of the biggest day to day challenges facing every business – your organisation might rely on a long string of suppliers or providers and you may not know who they all are. In some instances that makes it very hard for companies to know where exactly their products originate from, which can open the door to unethical or fraudulent practices. Similarly, should issues with product quality, lost components, poor paperwork or old-fashioned human error occur, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process to identity the problems and eliminate them. Blockchain’s shared digital ledger tech means everything is chronologically documented, transparent and time-stamped. You can track anything you need and locate and rectify issues very quickly. Quality assurance will leap and you’ll save money too, both with speedier admin processes and as payments directly transfer you can stop paying sundry admin fees to banks. Supply chain disputes will be a thing of the past as every supplier and provider can view the same details on the same ledger. Easy provenance tracking also helps to eliminate fraud and forgery.

    Smart Contracts

    Practically all business will need to contend with contracts at some stage – making them and abiding by them is part and parcel of the workings of any organisation. Doing so is a major burden on everyone’s time and all the normal accounting and verification processes can delay actually doing your business significantly. They can also be costly, as you normally need extensive paperwork, and the necessity of using the correct legal terminology and following legislative requirements means a lawyer is usually essential. Blockchain allows self-executing contracts (known as “smart contracts) to be created. These are fully automated; specific agreed terms and conditions between buyers and sellers are inputted on blockchain codes at the outset. When those conditions are met, services are given, products provided or payments are triggered. This means that two or more parties can enter into a binding agreement without needing to involve a lawyer. All agreements and conditions are traceable and completely accountable. Should any changes to the contract be required or desired, these can only be made with the consent of all parties. Everything is documented chronologically and is time-stamped, and once information is recorded, it cannot be retrospectively altered or deleted. Blockchain makes the contract process infinitely less complex, faster and cheaper too – helping to streamline your business operations.

    Final Thoughts

    Blockchain is one of the most promising new technology trends to follow. It may have been invented to facilitate Bitcoin but it has evolved into so much more, and there will no doubt be further revolutionary applications uncovered as the technology is developed further. With numerous industries including tech (obviously!), telecoms, pharmaceuticals, finance, banking, forex and manufacturing driving more widespread adoption of the tech. Have a close look at the challenges your business faces, it may well be there’s a way you can use blockchain to overcome them.

    (1) Sophos Report: The State of Cloud Security 2020 - NSS
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