Blockchain technology has been around since 2008, but today the 10-year-old technology is making digital transformation an achievable reality, as it now applies to any industry where things of value are exchanged.

The technology provides security through distribution and decentralization, on a world-wide scale, ensuring that no party in the blockchain system has the ability to modify the data. It offers a transparent digital ledger, without a trusted third party, where data entered cannot be modified (and therefore cannot be falsified), and any new data must be validated by other users in the chain.

The possibilities are far-reaching, and it's becoming used in commercial applications far beyond the financial sector.

Smart cities

The success of truly smart cities lies in their digital framework, and blockchain can provide the infrastructure required for transaction management, offering transparency and security at the same time.

People – and places – are starting to realize this. The city of Dubai has laid out plans to become the first blockchain-powered city by 2021, in a collaboration between the Smart Dubai Office and the Dubai Future Foundation. Blockchain technology will turn document processing paperless, saving US$ 1.5 billion (5.5 billion dirham) annually, as well as streamlining and improving security of transactions in the booming Dubai real-estate sector.

And in Atlanta, USA, Augury Square is a 30-acre project headed by the Hancom Group that will incorporate blockchain technology and cryptocurrency as the basis for the development of a truly smart city.

Digital IDs

Bermuda is in its first phase of its electronic ID program: the Perseid e-ID Project. Citizens' records are encrypted with blockchain technology, which also helps to coordinate the secure access of participants including enterprises, services and citizens. Bermuda's Prime Minister David Burt has said it is "reducing the burdens of compliance while exceeding global regulatory standards and expectations".

The IoT

A key benefit of integrating blockchain technology into the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) is its decentralization. Take smart appliances: by storing data about the user and their home in a blockchain system rather than a centralized server or cloud-based storage solution, data becomes more secure, and it enables smart devices to act autonomously in a variety of transactions. By stepping away from distributed networks and by smart appliances becoming autonomous and therefore operating at their most economical, blockchain makes the IoT much more affordable, too.

Freight management at ports

Today's supply chain management tends to be overly complex, spanning multiple phases, locations, freights, trucking and, crucially, payment stages. In these systems, there is a multitude of use cases for distributed ledger technology that can simplify the process by making the system's clients the guarantor of traceability and data reliability. 

This is happening at the Port of Marseille Fos, where the MGI's Cargo Community System, the data of which comes from multiple sources including shippers, customs authorities and port agents, uses blockchain to securely link these clients together in a chain of digital trust.

So blockchain really is about more than just banks and cryptocurrency. It's helping businesses, bringing efficiency and establishing trust.