TECHNOLOGY

3 Use Cases of Blockchain That Have Nothing to Do With Fintech

Going beyond the ICOs

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 14 Jun 2018

3 Use Cases of Blockchain That Have Nothing to Do With Fintech

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If “big data” or “sharing economy” might have been the buzzwords in tech once, it’s all about blockchain now. Blockchain is most closely associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or financial technology (fintech) companies, but it has many applications outside of the space. In Southeast Asia alone, there are many startups leveraging the tech in new fields.

Here are three examples of non-crypto companies who have embedded blockchain into the heart of their business operations:

1. Cutting Transaction Costs

Inbot Ambassador - Mikko Alasaarela, the founder and CEO of referral platform Inbot, says they actually started the company with traditional contracts and currencies in 2017, but they found it impossible to process regular small payments to such a large number of countries due to bank restrictions and the high cost of international transfers and currency exchanges.

The company has since switched to its own token, InToken, that is based on smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. This enables Inbot to automate distribution of rewards to its global community of users spread out in 161 countries worldwide - so unlike fintech platforms, which aim to get users to transact, InTokens encourage people to introduce and refer on Inbot.

Alasaarela says more founders in Southeast Asia should consider blockchain technologies because when no single party or country controls the sharing, it becomes easier for parties to exchange data and value, creating more inclusive global communities.

2. Sharing Home Ownership

Darvin Kurniawan, the co-founder and CEO of Crowdvilla, bills the non-profit organisation as a blockchain-based real estate platform that allows users access to community-shared hotels and holiday homes around the world. Users are able to own a token share on the blockchain in the properties run by Crowdvilla, and the blockchain is able to transparently record how assets are used by members. Unlike fintech platforms, which may keep a record of transactions, Crowdvilla’s blockchain keeps a record of ownership.

According to Kurniawan, blockchain has empowered Crowdvilla to create a true sharing economy. “Blockchain technology helps us honour the true spirit of sharing and dissolves the undemocratic concentration of wealth and property ownership worldwide. This changes our social fabric as we enable the community to indirectly own assets collectively,” he says.

Kurniawan believes that any industry predicated on trust between stakeholders can be disrupted by blockchain technology, pointing to insurance as a category that could use it to cut out the middleman.

3. Bringing Down Electric Bills

Julius Tan, CEO and Co-Founder of Electrify, says that energy markets around the world have traditionally operated within centralised models, with generation and distribution assets either publicly owned or strictly regulated. Some economies in Southeast Asia, however, such as Singapore, have been able to liberalise and deregulate the electricity sector to drive greater efficiency and competition.

“This has provided consumers - commercial and residential alike - with more flexibility and choice in how they purchase and consume energy. In line with these developments, Electrify is developing a smart contract-enabled system built on blockchain to enable more equitable outcomes for everyone,” says Tan.

Because Electrify uses smart contracts on a blockchain, it can eliminate the accounting, legal, and financial settlements, which can make as much as 30 percent of the retail cost of electricity - savings which Tan says they pass on to consumers.

So while blockchain may dominate today’s headlines, it is clear there is substance beyond the noise: Founders bold enough to see applications outside of fintech will reap benefits for themselves and their customers. To know more about blockchain and its various applications, kindly register for the SGInnovate events here.

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