In terms of managing, sharing and accessing information and data via the Internet, blockchain delivers trust, transparency, as well as greater speed and efficiency. Famous for the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoing and Ripple, many predict that blockchain will have a more dramatic impact on the customer experience and revolutionise the way business is done in the future.
In the near future, blockchain is expected to be a major disruptive technology impacting a wide range of industries. According to Jason Lopatecki, Senior Director of Innovation, Adobe Advertising Cloud:
“Blockchain has the potential to be one of the more revolutionary technologies of our lifetime. Blockchain can automate contract fulfillment, consolidate identity management, and simplify supply-chain logistics; from a consumer perspective, it can provide peace of mind through enhanced security and verification.”
Chris Luxford from Experience Innovators concurs, “The way business has been conducted in the past is remarkably complex. Think about everything yow own. Who knows that you own it? Your house for example, your solicitor and the government keep “records” of your ownership, but what if the paperwork is lost. Your fridge, you have a receipt, but probably from a store, not the manufacturer. Again who owns the record of your ownership?”
“The whole world is today run by middle-men, – companies that mediate the transfer of an asset from one owner to another. It’s a business model that underpins trillions of dollars in transaction fees and profits for some of the biggest businesses in the world”.
Blockchain threatens to do away with all that.
How does blockchain work?
A blockchain is a digital ledger where transactions are recorded and confirmed by various parties without the use of a third party intermediary. Luxford comments, “ it’s a place where ownership of any form of asset (physical or digital) is digitally recorded and tracked, allowing secure digital transactions associated with those assets”
Each block in a chain contains four pieces of information:
- A reference to the previous block
- A summary of the transaction
- A time stamp
- Proof of what created the secure block.
These blocks are joined together in a fluid chain that ensures transactions entered, are valid and can be processed. It creates a ledger for processing transactions that is fast, self-regulated and secure.
It’s impact on the customer experience
The potential for blockchain in terms of the customer experience is enormous. Trust in the brand that consumers are dealing with is fundamental to the customer experience. Transparency and security in the transactions they have with an organisation builds that trust.
But Blockchain can also provide speed, convenience and efficiency in managing transactions across a range of different situations. Luxford comments, “Blockchain has the potential of managing proof of purchase and warranties. At present to demonstrate proof of purchase requires the consumer to find a receipt or piece of paper and sending that in to the manufacturer”.
“Blockchain could simplify this entire process. It would enable all players throughout the product and customer lifecycle to know exactly who owns what. The block may contain information about; when a product was purchased, the model, the address, and a variety of other information”.
Eliminating transaction fees while providing efficient and speedy handling of transactions, positively impacts the customer experience. As there is no third party involvement and the transactions happening directly between the relevant parties, it can substantially reduce the time and costs taken to complete a transaction.
It’s still early days
We’re currently in the early days of blockchain and the benefits it promises to deliver. But there are numerous organisations testing the waters and undertaking a range of blockchain experiments. Blockchain promises faster domestic and international payments. Preventing money laundering by tracing unique cryptographic signatures. It also promises to speed up loan applications and approvals.
Simon Burke Cloud Technologist and founder of ScoutTECH, cites a range of projects being undertaken by the Australian banking industry, “The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has completed more than 25 blockchain related experiments over the past year and now reckons trade finance is one of the areas offering the most potential for blockchain. ANZ and Westpac completed a trial of distributed ledger technology for the bank guarantee process used in commercial property leasing in July 2017.”
Banking and financial services is an obvious area for blockchain but it also applications in other industries such as manufacturing, distribution and agriculture. Burke explains, “One of the strengths of blockchain is provenance and the ability to identify the true origin of a product. This has enormous potential for agricultural industries. In 2016 AgriDigital, a provider of blockchain solutions for farmers, executed the world’s first live settlement of a wheat deal in Australia”.
Other industries expected to be impacted include healthcare and pharmeceutical, promising greater efficiency in the storage and sharing of patient data, while giving patients greater control over their medical data.
Recently, E-Nome an Australian based company has developed a solution based on blockchain technology that empowers consumers to take control of their medical history on their smartphone. It’s expected that the simple empowerment of the consumer with their own health data, readily accessible on their mobile device, will lead to greater awareness of health issues and better long term health outcomes.
Even though blockchain is in its early days, there are numerous innovators out there exploring the potential. Luxford states, “Blockchain is being used and experiment with for things never even imagined until very recently. Examples include the legal profession using blockchain to manage documents, power utilities for trialing projects for energy trading as well as applications to combat counterfeiters in manufacturing, distribution and logistics.”
Whether blockchain is the revolutionary technology that many predict it to be is yet to be seen. But at this stage it is certainly full of potential promise.