By Halima Ummi Ismail
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger consisting of records called blocks that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved block cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks. Participants are permitted to audit and confirm the accuracy of transactions independently. With the blockchain process, participants uncertainty regarding data security is minimized. Anything built on the blockchain is by nature very transparent, hence, everyone involved is accountable for their actions. The information in blockchain is open for everyone as it is an immutable ledger. The bitcoin currencies (cryptocurrencies) is the original invention of the blockchain technology.
People used to think that blockchain technology is only applicable to cryptocurrencies. This perception has changed, and in recent years the application of blockchain technology to every spheres and sectors of our lives cannot be overlooked as it can be applied in various sectors such as the business and financial sector, governance, insurance, healthcare, real estate, entertainment, cyber security and much more. The blockchain technology generally creates a new and distinct type of internet. Cybercrimes such as cyber theft, hacking, and data breach faced by businesses and other sectors can be minimized by the blockchain technology.
Application of the Block chain Technology in Various Sectors
Blockchain Technology and Cyber Security
One of the advantages of the blockchain technology is in the protection of data and other information on the internet. Blockchain technology erases the likelihood of failure and it also obscures information and privacy using end-to-end encryption.
Blockchain Technology and Government
Blockchain technology can be very helpful to the government as it can be used in keeping a particular country’s record such as keeping and managing data and identity of individuals in such country. Government can also use this technology to deal with the problems of money laundering and the embezzlement of public funds. If applied during elections, it makes the voting process much more transparent and genuine. Unlike stealing of ballot boxes, hackers can barely manipulate the technology. This enhances democracy, free and fair elections, and the security of the people.
Blockchain Technology and Auditing and Accounting
Auditing and accounting is not an easy task but the blockchain technology makes it easier as it erases the possibility of making errors, thereby making the records free from errors and giving no room for the alteration of such records.
Blockchain Technology and the Healthcare Sector
Health data that’s suitable for blockchain includes general information like age, gender, and potentially basic medical history data like immunization history or vital signs. On its own, none of this information would be able to specifically identify any particular patient, which is what allows it to be stored on a shared blockchain that could be accessed by numerous individuals without undue privacy concerns. As specialized connected medical devices become more common and increasingly linked to a person’s health record, blockchain can connect those devices with that record. Devices will be able to store the data generated on a healthcare blockchain and annex it to personal medical records.
A key issue currently facing connected medical devices is the siloing of the data they generate but blockchain could be the link that bridges those silos.
Blockchain Technology and International Payments
The importance of blockchain for Banking and Finance and International Payments cannot be over emphasized. Blockchain provides a way to securely and efficiently create a tamper-proof log of sensitive activity and this makes it excellent for international payments and the transfer of money. For example, in April 2018, Banco Santander launched the world’s first blockchain-based money transfer service. Known as “Santander One Pay FX,” the service uses Ripple’s xCurrent to enable customers to make same-day or next-day international money transfers.
By automating the entire process on the blockchain, Santander has reduced the number of intermediaries typically required in these transactions, making the process more efficient. As a large commercial bank, Santander has numerous retail clients who would benefit from more efficient and cheaper payments, particularly in the area of international transfers. Blockchain technology generally reduces the cost of these transfers by reducing the need for banks to settle transactions manually.
Blockchain Technology and The Entertainment Industry
Blockchain technology can be used to eliminate fraud, and protect Intellectual Property rights in the entertainment industry. With this technology, entertainers can earn and keep records easily, without losing much.
Blockchain Technology and Insurance
The use of blockchain technology provides security and enhanced transparency for parties involved in insurance through the Smart Contract. Using the smart contract, all transactions are recorded and verified by the blockchain network, thereby rejecting invalid claims.
There is obviously no limits to the application of the blockchain technology. This technology, if adopted and applied effectively and efficiently provide much benefit to the society at large. Countries and people are already using the technology for different purposes.
Regulation of Blockchain Technology
Countries like the United States have seen the need for the regulation of the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. These countries have either made new regulations or made existing regulations applicable. Some countries however, declared cryptocurrencies illegal.
Nigeria has no specific regulations on the distributed ledger technology. The arrival of the technology in Nigeria started with cryptocurrencies. The lack of regulation of cryptocurrencies provided means for fraudulent activities. However, this position is changing as the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission has issued regulatory guidelines for digital currencies in Nigeria on the 14th day of September, 2020.
Cryptocurrencies are gradually becoming accepted by Nigerians as the number of people investing in digital currencies increases daily. As such the step taken by the SEC is a good one. This will help in eradicating fraudulent activities and Ponzi schemes attached to cryptocurrencies in Nigeria thereby creating a safe atmosphere for those who invest in digital currencies.
- Blockchain available at [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain] [last accessed 3 September 2020]
- The growing list of applications and use cases of blockchain technology in business and life available at [https://www.businessinsider.com/blockchain-technology-applications-usue-cases?IR=T] [last accessed 4 September 2020]
Halima Ummi Ismail is a law student from Bayero University, Kano.
She can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org