It seems that everyone in business is talking about blockchain. What was invented in 2008 to provide the infrastructure for Bitcoin has become one of the most exciting new technologies to emerge in years, with companies across the entire spectrum of industry racing to adopt it in their business. Many experts say it could well rival the rise of the internet itself, and the possibilities and applications of this shared digital ledger seem almost limitless. It has the potential to bring unprecedented levels of transparency and trust to all manner of business processes. Using the tech could well revolutionise your operation, but it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many things you should know about, here are 5 of them to get you thinking.
Payments & Money Transfers
One of the best known and most important uses of blockchain is its use in matters of payment and money transfers and it undoubtedly offers some excellent benefits to businesses. Firstly, all transactions are transparent on the shared ledger, so all parties can view records with no concealment of information. Reconciling paperwork such as billing statements and invoices are a major drag on the resources of any business, and inevitably mean payment is delayed. Using blockchain tech means you no longer need to do this. Transactions take a matter of seconds to process as they are direct from seller to buyer (or vice versa) so you no longer have to make transfers via third party financial institutions, which usually slow everything up considerably. You will also be all too aware that making any sort of bank transfer means you need to pay various transaction charges; transfer fees, origination fees and receiving fees etc. If your business is international, you’re looking at your financial institution taking a percentage on any foreign exchange fees too. Blockchain cuts out the middleman and will save you money. If your business is adopting digital currency then it’s worth looking at the Bitcoin evolution login, the software’s real-time market analysis and accurate trading signals make it easy for you to make decisions.
Supply Chain Management
Blockchain can really help with this part of your operation, which can be a nightmare for any organisation. Your business might be reliant on a string of suppliers and you might not know who they all are, or where they fall in the chain of supply when issues crop up. And there are a lot of potential problems – delivery delays, missing parts, broken parts, human error and many more – and everything comes with a ton of paperwork to wade through. As blockchain is totally transparent and time-stamped, every part of the supply chain is documented, so you know the exact state of your product at every stage. You’ll know where problems are coming from and be able to rectify them far more quickly. The quality assurance levels in your business will rise and processes will be efficient. Costs can be directly reduced with speedier admin processes and you can again limit using financial third parties so fees will reduce too. Finally, the built-in provenance tracking means you can detect any fraud or forgery in your supply chain.
Making and abiding by contracts is part and parcel of any business, but the process of creating them and maintaining them can be a time-consuming and costly process. Once again there are reams of often complex paperwork, and the necessary use of legal language and terminology means a lawyer is often essential. There is all the usual accounting and verification to contend with, and it not only delays your business from actually happening, but there are the lawyer’s fees to pay, and they usually don’t come cheap! Blockchain tech offers a way out of this with “smart contracts”. These are automated contracts where specific agreed terms and conditions between buyers and sellers are written on blockchain codes that are self-executing. This means that two parties can enter into a binding agreement without the involvement of third parties such as lawyers. All records are traceable, transparent and secure, and any new detail or amended agreements can only be made if both parties agree and confirm. Once recorded, data cannot be amended or deleted and everything runs in chronological order with a time-stamp. Once again, processes become easier, streamlined and faster. Fraud is eliminated along with the need for legal red tape, so saving you money too.
Blockchain has superb applications for the security aspect of your business. No matter how strong your current systems and arrangements for your operation and identity, there is always the possibility of leakage on the internet and the chance a clever hacker can compromise your system and get hold of sensitive data. Most companies these days use centralised cloud storage solutions such as Google and Amazon Web Services, but there have been high-profile breaches of theft of data in recent years. The decentralised nature of data storage on blockchain means that would-be hackers need to break through all parts of the chain simultaneously, which is incredibly difficult to achieve. The system also allows for the protection of digital identity – the extensive cryptography means the sensitive financial and personal data of the parties involved is protected to a far stronger degree than with established systems. Your clients and partners can rest assured their details are safe, as can you with yours.
Start off with small steps
All these things (and the many more not mentioned here!) could have wonderful applications to your business, but in addition to knowing what these benefits are you also need to know that this is still very new technology. While there are obviously advantages to getting in at the ground floor with new tech and it may give you a strong edge over your competitor set, blockchain is still relatively underdeveloped and there are many new avenues it will explore before reaching its full potential. Bear in mind it is currently largely unregulated and it won’t transform a bad business into a good one either. Having the technology as an option for your clients to use will be very helpful (and it appears that increasing numbers of them will want to use it), but many of them will want to continue to use the tried and tested methods of transacting, at least for now. So, even if you feel this is the way you want to go, it is probably wise not to rip out your current systems and go full blockchain, and potentially drive clients away. Better to adopt it alongside what you have now, so clients can choose to use either. Remember, as the system continues to grow in popularity, you’ll be in good place to adapt along with it.
It is amazing that tech used to power Bitcoin back in 2008 could have so many wonderful applications for businesses big and small all over the world. There’s plenty to think about, but you should have a close look at how it could work for you – it could help your business soar!