By definition, blockchain is just that – a chain of blocks! While this is undoubtedly an oversimplification, sometimes it is best to stick to the basics.
For some historical context, we should remember that cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain foundation was born as a political project. That is easy to forget when most of the coverage of Bitcoin or Ethereum appears in financial or technology journals. But, in truth, it is the result of decades of effort to create a technology that could disrupt the very concept of government through stateless digital money. The people pursuing that goal aptly called themselves the ‘CypherPunks’ who draw inspiration from the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto by Timothy May.
Technically, blockchain is a secure public digital ledger of transactions spread over a network of computers. It provides privacy of transactions without any interference from governments or banks. The database it creates is chained together, in blocks, in an irreversible chronological order.
Blockchain started as a financial transaction use case, but human ingenuity has found ways to use it for very offbeat and sometimes exciting solutions. Central to this is the attribute that blockchain is “almost” impregnable, decentralised and transparent. I would argue that these will be huge factors for various industries to use blockchain uniquely and with a twist.
CryptoKitties make a killing.
In 2017, CryptoKitties used blockchain to create a digital gaming
experience that allowed huge profits, all secure. The company raised more than USD 1 million in just thirty days, and over the next few months, more than USD 12 million was transacted using this gaming persona. In addition, players were investing in CryptoKitties, making huge profits.
Another exciting example of gaming using blockchain for a gaming platform is Chimaera. It is a custom blockchain gaming interface for developers and gamers. It converts gaming into virtual assets, allowing them to manage, publish, and play their games on a blockchain-based gaming console.
A bit on the wild side
As of October 2021, marijuana has been gaining more and more states to legalise cannabis. With this, cannabis has become a booming business in the US, and one estimate says it could be as high as USD 35 billion in 2020, with the legal market as high as USD 10 billion. A cashless transaction solution would be very welcome with these volumes, and blockchain is stepping in to fill that gap. The added advantage is that these cashless transactions are entirely transparent and easily trackable.
Cryptocurrency has been involved in cannabis-related transactions even before, in the form of PotCoin, DopeCoin, and ParagonCoin, and the potential is still largely unrealised. But blockchain in the supply chain of the cannabis business has an advantage over cryptocurrencies. It creates transparency that allows legislators, consumers, and banks to have complete access to the data of transactions. Over time, this will help the cause of legalisation by providing the one thing that can put the industry in good light for mainstream and lawmakers – trust and transparency.
He who blockchain doth tie together
Even in 2021, same-sex marriage is legal as a wedding and recognised in only 29 countries globally. Less than a quarter of all nations! A unique solution has been used by the irrepressible Björn Borg, using blockchain to perform marriages in regions where it’s not legal. Confusing though it may sound, blockchain is simply a distributed, decentralised ledger that records events and facts (or transactions) transparently, permanently, and without the need for any outside (read government) agency. The sports brand has formed a Blockchain platform, Marriage Unblocked, where same-sex couples can propose and unite in holy matrimony on the blockchain. The records have no third-party interference, and the couple can even get a certificate as proof. Ingenious? Or bizarre? But the trend is very much active. In 2014, the first same-sex couple engraved their nuptials on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Luxury and valuable art
Many applications of blockchain owe their usage to its transparent nature. The most significant users would be dealers in high-value products, like an expensive piece of art? Some platforms verify provenance and reduce fraud risks by certifying the artwork, demonstrating ownership and making storage of records databases publicly visible to control fraud in high-value art pieces.
Recording sexual consent
Among the more interesting applications of Blockchain is LegalFling, an app that uses blockchain technology to verify sexual consent. Close on the heels of the #MeToo movement, the app records user-consented sex, accept specifications of the act, and various other details that need agreement. The user shares all necessary info, and the acceptance gets recorded on the blockchain, and the consent stays secure and tamper-proof.
The lives and times of Thanksgiving turkeys and other items
The most interesting usage of blockchain ledgers is recording the entire supply chain of food products, especially meats. For example, Thanksgiving turkeys can now be a verified product with their entire lifecycle recorded on blockchain applications – the area of origin, processing, packing, supply chain – everything you needed to know about the turkey sitting on your Thanksgiving table!
Similar applications track fish, fresh leafy vegetables, and even salmon supply chains! Diamonds can also be a fully recorded journey, from mining to retail, to follow each step of its production.
But the top honour goes to the Evancoin on the Ethereum blockchain platform, which commodifies the professional time of experts, so no one dares to pick their brains for free! It’s an individual blockchain-based currency, using which people can pay for consulting time of experts by the hour.
Crime is another excellent use case . Honour amongst thieves will finally do beyond dictum meum pactum and could be on a blockchain. Then there are wills/inheritance (Zweispace), charity (BitGive Foundation), voting (Follow My Vote, Agora), gun tracking, gambling (Wagerr) and more.
The versatility of blockchain has finally allowed creative minds to use technology for innovative, enjoyable, and sometimes outright bizarre uses.