In May 2021, Royal Dutch Shell lost a landmark court case which ruled that the energy giant must bring its emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Shell had already planned to become net-zero business by 2050, but the ruling means they must slash emissions faster and harder.
We talked to blockchain investor and author of Blockchain for Dummies Tianna Laurence about some of the opportunities for blockchain technology in business.
What problem are we solving?The problem blockchain solves is data tampering.
We won’t go into detail about how it does this, but the key thing to know is that this means you can have a list or database of information that, once written, is unchangeable and guaranteed to be tamperproof.
“Blockchain is a type of software. There are many, many blockchains, it's one of the things that people often get confused about, they think that there's a single blockchain, they call it the blockchain, there's many. It basically lets you write data and never unwrite it so, insure it globally and if it's a public blockchain, anybody in the world can take a look at it and see what you've published.”
Think about it like an accountant’s ledger book written in ballpoint pen. It’s very difficult to tamper with it by pulling out one of the numbered pages or scribbling out lines. Everyone will notice.
Blockchain essentially provides the same security, but instead of being a book in a desk it’s available online.
But how can blockchain technology be applied in the real world?
Example 1: Buying a house
If you were buying a house in a foreign country, you’d probably hire a local lawyer to help with the purchase.
Before your lawyer hands over your money to the seller, you need to know who the legal owner of the property is and that the deed will be updated to your name – which may mean the lawyer checking local, municipal and central records.
This can be a costly and time consuming process. In Spain, for example, doing this work can cost upwards of £10,000 in legal and notary fees.
Now imagine an alternative....
…where all the ownership information was readily available to everyone on a web page that was guaranteed to be correct, and updating the record cost you £100.
Streamlining processes like this is what a lot of the blockchain hype is about.
Example 2: AirlinesMoving to a more commercial example, an airline might be planning to buy an aeroplane for $240m.
Anyone buying an asset of that value is going to want to make sure that the service log is well up to date and has all of its stamps.
But what proof do they have that the parts were actually purchased and fitted other than a stamp and a signature on a bit of paper?
A tamperproof record could take a lot of the legwork out of the verification process.
The same goes for pilots…
“One of the startups that I'm working with is working specifically on that use case. Both like, pilots, for example, need to track their hours and it's quite expensive…being able to establish irrefutably these logs of, Did people fly on these machines? Who flew with them? What machine was it? Was that machine serviced?”
Leveraging this as a business
Any time-intensive verification work will probably shift to blockchain or blockchain like technology over the next 5-10 years, and it will likely be ubiquitous.
You might not even notice it’s there, but you will wonder how we ever coped without it.
What can I do today?The technology is very new and as with any new technology it takes time to mature and for companies to come in with solutions that make the most of it.
For now, you could get started by taking the following steps:
- Monitor Blockchain start-ups and look for ones in your industry. Crunchbase is a great place to do this.
- Look out for blockchain news in industry blogs and magazines.
- If you’re in an industry that is likely to be disrupted then consider running a small scale test (CD test Press release) and using it to generate PR for your business.