Many different use-cases for blockchain have been tried and tested over the last years by startups, corporations and governments alike. Some of them have found real world applications but most have not made it out of a proof-of-concept phase. Building on interactions with major blockchain actors at national level, the B-hub consortium has identified a number of particularly relevant use cases throughout the different ecosystems.
After our last article offering a per-country overview of blockchain adoption, we will delve into specific use cases in a new series of articles. While varying greatly in terms of sectors and usage; all have in common that they are currently applicable, somewhat mature – underlying technology exists and is available on the market – and implemented.
This first article deals with notarization, timestamping and tamper-proof records. In summary, blockchain applications exist to accurately and reliably recording events and transactions in a tamper-proof and verifiable way. They rely on the digitalisation of processes to release authorization documents or certificates while guaranteeing their authenticity, validity, integrity in real time and in a unique and irrevocable manner.
Description and problem statement
Certificates or authorization documents are usually released in paper format. The release process may be affected by fraudulent components. For instance, the issuer may not authorised by law; or a third party may manipulate the document.
In some cases, certification is released by different institutions and platforms. Many checking steps are necessary along the long and complex process involving multiple players.
This problem applies to any organisation where business transactions, IP rights, certificates validity and authenticity issues have a strong impact on operations. Any organisation where administrative processes are to some extent dematerialised would also encounter this issue.
Why is blockchain particularly relevant to address this problem?
Blockchain can be used to avoid frauds all along the guarantee release process. A blockchain-based solution can guarantee the document integrity and the legitimacy of the issuer, as well as certificates validity and authenticity and immutability.
It is also useful to reduce the time of the whole process and to remove any manual error. Digitalisation and more efficiency of the process are also ensured, avoiding bureaucracy.
Interested parties may check the validity of the certificates and documents at any time, without needing to ask the issuing entity for confirmation. Blockchain enables, to streamline the administrative procedure and shorten the timing. It also allows to record and store information in a secure, verifiable and permanent manner.
Mathematically and cryptographically tamper-proof records provide the certainty needed to prove facts in and out of court. It also allows for the necessary transparency, privacy and security.
How does it work?
Hashes, calculated (near-unique) values derived from original data are stored on a blockchain. Because of the uniqueness of this resulting hash and the near-impossible difficulty to re-generate it without the original data, this serves as proof of knowledge of a fact at a certain point in time. Through cryptographic signatures, it can be proven who has submitted this record or who has authorised the transaction.
Smart contracts are able to automatically check the fulfilment of requirements of applicants or the obtained certifications. Verified certificates are immediately issued.
What are some examples of implementation?
Implementation examples exist in the aviation and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as in public administrations and education:
- Aerospace firm Honeywell uses blockchain for aircraft spare parts
- Retail giant Walmart Joins Pharmaceutical-Tracking Blockchain Consortium MediLedger
- The Municipality of Bari uses blockchain to digitalise insurance policy mechanisms(in Italian)
- Business school Ecole des Ponts issues diplomas certified on blockchain
What are some examples of technology providers?
Want to see more blockchain use cases articles? Stay tuned for the next articles of our series!