The cryptocurrency firm called Ripple has put up $50 million for the University Blockchain Research Initiative. Like its name states, the project is meant to encourage universities to conduct R&D in relation to blockchain. So far, 28 schools have signed up to participate in the project, which makes sense because blockchain is a very popular topic at the moment.
Why Is There So Much Interest in Blockchain Anyways?
There are plenty of people out there who are interested in blockchain because of cryptocurrencies. After all, blockchain is the tech that makes Bitcoin as well as the cryptocurrencies that have followed in its footsteps possible, meaning that their rise has ensured its rise. In some cases, this interest is because people are fascinated by the potential uses of cryptocurrencies. However, there are also those who care about speculation and not much else, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the spectacular rise in the value of Bitcoin since its start. Regardless, it is important to note that blockchain has plenty of usefulness outside of the context of cryptocurrencies, which is fueling much of the interest in the tech shown by a wider range of parties.
This is because blockchain is a digital means that can be used to record transactions so that they can’t be erased later. Moreover, blockchain possesses a couple of other important characteristics as well, with one being how the transactions can be verified and the other being how everyone can gain access to the resulting ledger of transactions. On top of this, blockchain is decentralized, meaning that it can continue functioning even if there is no central authority overlooking the whole process.
As such, it isn’t hard to think that there might be other potential uses for blockchain. There are a lot of banks and other financial institutions that are interested in the use of blockchain. However, there are other parties in other sectors that have already started making use of the tech for their purposes as well.
What Are Some Ways that People Are Using Blockchain?
Of course, the single most famous use for blockchain is the facilitation of cryptocurrency transactions. This is critical because one of the central tenets of cryptocurrencies is the lack of a central authority that can oversee such matters to make sure that everything goes alright. On the whole, blockchain has served its purpose in this regard. It is still theoretically possible for someone to overcome blockchain’s resistance to having its recorded transactions being changed, but in practice, that would call for so much computing power that it is essentially impossible. As such, while there have been plenty of cryptocurrency scams, they have been carried out by exploiting vulnerabilities other than blockchain.
Other parties have been using blockchain for records as well. For example, there are businesses that use blockchain to keep records of the various places that their materials have passed through on their journeys from their initial production sites to the facilities where they are supposed to see use. This is important because businesses want to keep a watchful eye on the sources of their raw materials to ensure that they weren’t produced in an unethical way. Something that has become particularly important in an age when corporate social responsibility has become more and more popular.
Likewise, there are businesses in the food sector that are paying close attention to where their supply of food comes from. However, in this case, they aren’t interested in whether the food producers meet their ethical and environmental standards. Instead, they are much more interested in where their food is coming from so that they can find the source of the problem when a foodborne illness pops up, thus enabling them to eliminate the problem with maximum efficacy while minimizing wastage in the process. Assuming that this particular application of blockchain lives up to its promise, it could help the relevant parties protect the safety of our food while minimizing disruptions.
Other examples range from businesses seeking to combat counterfeiting by verifying the origin of products to businesses using blockchain to maintain the electronic health records of patients. These make up no more than a small number of the potential uses for blockchain, which can sometimes seem as numerous as the businesses that exist out there. As such, it is no wonder that there is so much interest in blockchain R&D even when it is unattached to commercial purposes.