You might have heard about it in the news. Maybe you read a blog post and got intrigued by its capabilities. Now, you want to know how it can improve your business. But are you really ready to embrace blockchain technology?
Blockchain has been around for more than a decade. It came out with the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. At first, people didn’t care much about the technology as much as they cared about Bitcoin.
Now, startups, Wall Street Banks, and even some governments are singing praise about blockchain. What is it and how can it support businesses?
What is Blockchain?
A blockchain is a type of decentralized ledger that can store records permanently albeit transparently. Anyone can view records stored on the blockchain. But they can’t alter the data.
Data stored on the blockchain is duplicated across multiple computer systems. This makes it nearly impossible to hack the system. You can try. But you would have to take over more than half computer systems involved.
To give you a clear perspective on blockchain, here are its four main characteristics:
In light of that information, below are ways blockchain technology can support business owners globally:
- Straightforward Payments
Blockchain eliminates third parties like banks and credit card companies. Customers deal with businesses directly. The best part of it all is that cryptocurrencies are borderless.
Your Miami-based online store can sell products in every part of the world. And as long as you can provide shipping expeditiously, crypto owners won’t have a problem buying from you.
When you think about it, crypto transactions can eliminate cash flow problems. With Bitcoin, payments take less than 20 minutes. Then you can decide how to use the money to grow your business.
- Supply Chain Management
Because the blockchain keeps records chronologically, you can use it for supply chain management. You can even collaborate with your business partners, employees, and clients.
Suppliers can notify you once a shipment has been released. You can follow the shipment by using trackers and add key destinations on the blockchain. As mentioned, this process is transparent.
Anyone involved in your business can track a shipment for transparency. You can also work with people in specific areas to help you check the quality of a product, sort out delays, or protect your products from counterfeiting.
A few giant companies are using blockchain for supply chain management. They include Oracle, IBM Corporation, Walmart, Alibaba, SkyCell, and Nestle.
Meta is trying to use blockchain in social media to revolutionize how we consume content. It could integrate financial rewards to help content creators earn more from their work. But more importantly, the blockchain could make social media safe for all.
In this age of fake accounts and bullies who hide behind pseudo accounts, more social media companies need to utilize blockchain to keep their users safe.
- Speed and Efficiency
Blockchain technology automates records and payments. But as mentioned, it also makes data easily accessible. For example, Walmart uses the technology for record keeping.
The blockchain helps record everything about a product, from its source producer to the final consumer. Walmart once used blockchain to find the source of specific sliced mangoes. The blockchain provided an answer instantly, a process the retailer said usually took five business days.
By storing records on a decentralized platform, there’s no chance of losing important data. As we mentioned earlier, no one can hack this system. No one can alter it, meaning businesses can’t lose data by accident or intentionally.
- Smart Contracts
If your business leads are always asking you to prove your trustworthiness, you might want to introduce smart contracts. A smart contract is an agreement recorded on blockchain technology. It’s designed to self-execute once certain terms have been met.
A smart contract eliminates the need for trust in a business. No need to worry about scammers. If you order something executed through a smart contract, you’re assured it will be delivered.
Smart contracts provide an assurance of service deliverance due to one reason. They’re designed to confirm proof of work or the availability of money before a contract is executed.
Smart contracts are best used by businesses that sell digital products. Let’s say you want to buy an antivirus program. The seller can use a blockchain-based platform. The smart contract will release the software to you only if you pay the specified amount.
Beyond trust, smart contracts eliminate intermediaries. This, in turn, increases speed and lowers costs.
- Transparent Audits
Another reason to use blockchain for business is that it streamlines audits. You can create timestamps on documents stored on this system. More importantly, you can organize and label files in a way that will make auditing easier.
Since no one can alter your company’s documents without authorization, it becomes easy to trace every aspect of your business. You can filter out specific dates, check small details, and provide proof of goods where it’s needed.
- Top-Notch Security
Blockchain technology is inherently secure. It is decentralized, meaning no one can corrupt it. It also encrypts data using cryptography, making it safe from hackers. The only way you can lose sensitive data stored on a decentralized network is if you reveal this information to others. Otherwise, you can conduct business on the blockchain without ever revealing your personal information.
Most cryptocurrencies are pseudo-anonymous. You don’t need to provide your name or address while transacting. Some of them, however, can help you make payments anonymously.
Thanks to the blockchain’s secure nature, you can lower cybersecurity costs for your business. You can use the extra money for marketing, innovation, and other aspects of your business.
- Blockchain with AI
Some businesses are combining blockchain with Artificial Intelligence to achieve things not possible in the conventional sense. For starters, AI-powered blockchain companies are better equipped for cybersecurity issues.
Another benefit is that AI provides automation to businesses. They can automate multiple aspects of their operations—customer service, supply chain management, accounting, and marketing. In doing so, businesses can save money and maximize productivity.