Op-ed: Blockchain – A Force for Good

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Blockchain was popularized by the rise of cryptocurrency, and as a result, many still associate the technology with dubious dealings on the dark web. This is perhaps why, according to Gartner, 77% of CIOs have no interest in the technology.

Trust and Transparency

However, by not looking at how transaction records secured by cryptography can be used outside of finance, blockchain isn’t being maximized to its true potential. Blockchain can create greater transparency across a wide variety of industries as when data is added to the ledger, a hash – a condensed version of the data – is generated and encrypted.  This ensures that the data cannot be altered, which creates trust in the information contained on the blockchain and promotes transparency.

Recent research revealed that when a company offers complete transparency, 94% of users are likely to remain loyal to that brand. As a result, companies in industries that have been dogged by transparency issues are looking at innovative ways to adopt blockchain to boost trust and customer loyalty. Rather than underpinning illicit transactions on the dark web, blockchain is increasingly being utilized as a force for good.

Online Piracy

As the internet facilitates the access and sending of data, private information and files can also be shared without the owner’s consent. This leads to the creation of platforms, such as Napster and PirateBay, which enabled users to stream files from peer-to-peer illegally. As a result of online piracy, music sales in the US fell 47% in the decade after Napster was established. In an attempt to combat illegal downloads of audio and video files, legal marketplaces such as iTunes and Google Play were created – however, they still didn’t completely combat files being unlawfully shared once purchased.

To address this issue and combat illegal file sharing in photography, KODAK created KODAKCoin – to automate transparent license documentation for images. By attaching blockchain to photographs featured on the company’s marketplace, it not only ensured the owners of the photograph receive payment when their image is used, but it also enables the image to be tracked no matter how widely it is shared.

Blood Diamonds

This tracking of assets through blockchain is also being rolled out in the precious stone industry, to ensure customers that their gems have been ethically sourced. This was essential in an industry where consumers increasingly demand ethically sourced diamonds and snub those sourced from conflict zones or by child labour.

By attaching blockchain to individual stones, De Beers can provide a digital record that enables both buyers and sellers to ensure a gem’s origin – even after they are re-sold. Extending its philanthropic efforts to support the Kimberley Process and eliminate the trade of blood diamonds, which provides militants in the Central African Republic with over $3m annually, the company opened the technology to the marketplace to benefit the whole industry.

Fake Followers

Another industry that has been rocked by unethical mining activity is social media, data mining in this instance. When it was revealed that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to mine data on 87 million of its users for monetary gain, the consumer backlash was phenomenal – with the value of the platform dropping $40bn.

As consumer trust waned in the platforms, so too did that of the advertisers who used the sites to reach audiences through social media influencers. With the revelation that many users had inflated their perceived status, Unilever announced it was cracking down on influencers who buy fake followers and use bots. To restore faith in social media for both users and advertisers, innovative companies, such as Pinmo, are exploring how they can connect consumers with brands, while enabling users to monetize their own interactions through blockchain.

Adding blockchain to content shared through social media enables advertisers to record every interaction that occurs on their advert. This tracking also enables the platforms to monitor and monetize social interactions, providing an incentive for users to share branded content. By enabling users to earn money based on the number of likes or shares a post receives, a new wave of social media platforms are giving the power back to the people and providing brands with more organic reach into their target demographics.

Clear Benefits

As a lack of transparency and trust remains a key issue for consumers across a range of industries, blockchain has the power to turn the tide and be used as a force for good. This transparency promotes brand loyalty and consequently boosts revenue. Although the majority of CIOs currently have no interest in blockchain, you’ll be hard pushed to find a CIO with no interest in increasing brand loyalty. As a result, the adoption of blockchain will soar as the benefits of transparency become clear.

Op-ed: Blockchain – A Force for Good was originally found on [blokt] – Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.