Blockchain and cryptocurrency: the beloved buzzwords of the technology world. Due to their radical potential, these emerging technologies have been shrouded in doubt and confusion. Yet, even as awareness and adoption have steadily grown in recent years, many experts venture to call this silent revolution the fastest growing digital technology since the internet.
With their inception in 2008, bitcoin (a type of cryptocurrency) and blockchain (bitcoin’s underlying technology) have largely been pioneered by the financial services industry for simplifying and speeding up payments that have traditionally been expensive and complex. But these distributed ledger technologies go beyond finance. For any transaction where traceability and transparency are required, the two concepts offer compelling solutions. Their potential for health care, supply chain and retail, and government to name a few, make the technologies both exciting and timely.
Think about the way in which patient data is stored and transferred between providers. While the use of electronic health records is prevalent, there exists little protocol on data sharing, and often there are challenges with security and interoperability. Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize this process and reduce costs, by removing transactional intermediaries, implementing smart contracts, and creating a distributed framework for patient’s digital identities. For example, Cambridge Consultants, a development firm, has designed an open market trading platform for drug price negotiation that's based on a public blockchain.
Within the supply chain, there are long term opportunities to greatly improve consumer trust and transparency. As shoppers seek goods that are more socially responsible, blockchain would offer consumers accessible and infallible insight into the entire history of a product—from where it was made and stored, to how it was delivered, to who may have owned it previously. Already, companies like Walmart are exploring the application of blockchain to improve food quality and safety.
Cryptocurrency is also finding its role in retail. Major companies like Overstock, Expedia and Shopify accept payments in bitcoin, and the advantages of these transactions are numerable. For example, because of bitcoin’s “peer-to-peer” nature, financial intermediaries cannot delay or interrupt transactions and typically associated fees are low to zero.
Even governments are embracing blockchain and bitcoin, though not without controversy. In recent years, Venezuela has been in an economic crisis due to a fall in oil prices. Their solution: launching an oil-backed cryptocurrency called “petro.” While the project supposedly raised $735 million on its first day, there are still a lot of questions into the validity of those statements and the action’s legality—but regardless, this event marks the first time a country has moved to issue its own cryptocurrency.
As industry experts continue to uncover the long-term impacts on business and the economy, it is crucial that business leaders educate themselves on what blockchain and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could mean for their business.
Over the next several months, NetSuite will present a four-part webinar series to help business leaders understand and profit from the global phenomenon. The series will discuss the concepts behind blockchain and cryptocurrency, potential risks and opportunities of the technologies and how Oracle NetSuite Blockchain solutions can help. Throughout the series, you’ll hear from finance industry experts, consultants and leaders in the blockchain space.
Part one of this webinar series, "Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: What Every Executive Needs to Know," is on Wednesday, March 14th. The presentation will feature Andy Brown, former CTO of UBS and CEO of Sand Hill East, and will discuss the basics of blockchain and cryptocurrency, its impacts on business transactions, and how your company can incorporate the technologies into its long-term strategy for growth.