When many of us hear the word “blockchain” we automatically associate it with bitcoin.  But today, blockchain technology is so much more than the platform behind the bitcoin cryptocurrency – as it is now becoming a serious asset in identity management.

As such, credit unions, governments, healthcare, and private industry are testing blockchain to be used daily to protect consumer identities, contracts, employee messaging, and much more.  In fact, ComputerWorld writes, that blockchain “…holds the potential to solve online privacy issues that plague everything from consumer sales and bank…regulations…”

What is Blockchain Technology

Let’s do a quick recap of what blockchain technology actually is and why pundits find it is so secure.  Some experts would even say the technology is nearly impregnable. The blockchain technology is an underlying technology with various implementations and applications – some being private and some public.

  • In a nutshell, the technology is basically a chain of blocks, but not in the traditional sense of those words. When we say the words “block” and “chain” in this context, we are actually talking about digital information, writes Investopedia.  The point being, if an item can be counterfeited, whether it is currency or identity, then blockchain technology can be used to encrypt, authenticate and transact with it.

According to CNBC, in 2009, the first major application of blockchain technology was bitcoin and it quickly became very popular as a secure means to conduct monetary transactions.  Why? The blockchain technology is “decentralized,” meaning it is not controlled by one central authority.   In fact, experts write that a “…blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server.  It is a decentralized and distributed public ledger that records transactions across many computers so that a transaction cannot be altered.”

A decade since blockchain technology has emerged, technologists are seeing myriad uses that could eventually revolutionize the way identity management is administered.

In 2019, we will see many organizations using and testing blockchain technology.  Here is how: 

Credit Unions:

According to a recent article in ComputerWorld, several credit unions are now testing blockchain technology to help banking customers conduct transactions such as verifying their identity for a loan without exposing personally identifiable information.  For instance, a cooperative known as CULedger, owned by several credit unions, created a blockchain-based platform entitled My CUID, which will eliminate the need to put in passwords and will be debuted in 2019.

“That’s the potential blockchain holds for decentralized identity management. It’s done by creating a digital wallet that serves as a repository for all kinds of personal and financial data, info that can only be shared after a specific request and only with the permission of the owner,” reports ComputerWorld.

Governments:

Governments are also seeing the potential of blockchain technology.  In September 2018, former California Governor Jerry Brown passed two law bills supporting the development and adoption of the blockchain technology. “Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize many industries in the near future,” according to a recent press release.

One major application of government and municipal application of blockchain technology is in the application of “smart cities” according to Government Computer News.  According to reports, 25- percent of state and local governments will use blockchain/distributed ledger technologies to improve benefits distribution to municipal employees as well as expand the capabilities of identity and contracts management.

Consumer Technology:

There are many ways that blockchain technology can now support devices.  At CES this year, PCMag.com reported on a new phone called Pundi X that can operate in a normal Android mode but can now also go to “Blockchain” mode, “…which uses Pundi X’s distributed ledger to make end-to-end encrypted calls and texts to other XPhones. The devices’ individual blockchains don’t hold the entire ledger; rather, the phones act as nodes on the network and request other information from other trusted nodes.”

Other Blockchain Technology Applications:

Paying Taxes:  AMBCrypto reports that a US company called Overstock, announced that the organization will pay its taxes using Bitcoin. The company stated that it will be paying a part of its business taxes to the state of Ohio in the form of virtual assets using the state’s dedicated cryptocurrency payment website, Ohiocrypto.com.

Reporting Poor Working Conditions: Coca-Cola has teamed up with the US State Department to build a blockchain registry for workers in the worldwide sugar industry.  According to reports, this ledger will also record workers’ contracts, which should help efforts to combat forced labor and poor working conditions.

Sexual Harassment Claims:  According to recent reports, a new platform and application called Vault, to be released in March 2019, will enable employees to document and report sexual harassment claims in the workplace and send it directly to HR. The app uses blockchain technology to protect the evidence without fear of the data getting in the wrong hands.