We have covered cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) rather extensively in the past. For the uninitiated, the blockchain technology is the underlying engine that powers the market structure for cryptocurrencies. However, cryptocurrencies are not the only use case for blockchain. With the rise of many cryptocurrencies especially in late 2016/2017, blockchain has come into prominence and is being explored feverishly not just by the financial sector, but also by other industries.
It has almost become a bubble since simply slapping #blockchain or #ICO on a venture will receive serious attention, and in many cases also raise serious funding. How then should we judge if a blockchain project is worth our time (and money)?
In an article by leading blockchain researcher Gideon Greenspan, he lays down the conditions that have to be fulfilled for a good blockchain use case. These conditions are:
- The need for shared databases
- The need for multiple users to write to such databases
- These writers do not ‘trust’ each other (no modification to own assets by others)
- Need for disintermediation (No trusted third party intermediary preferred)
- Interaction between transactions (one transaction depends on another transaction to occur)
If blockchain projects do not fulfil the five conditions above, potential investors may want to reconsider their investment. Next, we look at some interesting blockchain applications in Singapore and leave you to judge for yourself if they are worth your time, or if you should be binge watching Game of Thrones instead.
We have to give the financial industry its own section as there many financial services that can and will be disrupted in the times to come. The banks have been our trusted intermediary for a long time, and the focus is for banks to cut transaction and verification costs via various applications.
The elephant in the room is trade finance, and various start-ups have been tackling the issue early on. One such company, Singapore’s Skuchain operates a permissioned blockchain network, allowing real-time tracking of inventory and decentralised contract execution, but control resides with a set of pre-designated entities. The big boys have responded, with IBM building a blockchain-based platform for seven large banks, including HSBC and Deutsche Bank.
Bluzelle, which moved from Canada to Singapore to raise US$1.5 million in its series A, builds financial applications on blockchain tech. They have developed a blockchain identity management system to smoothen KYC processes. They have also done a project that leverages on blockchain for better insurance back-end claim management.
Another Singapore based start-up, Everex uses blockchain to support microfinancing and remittance services. To fund their micro-financing (microcredit) venture, they have launched their Initial Coin Offering (ICO), to raise ETH 70,000 (around USD 26 million as of 30 August 2017).
Besides the financial industry, one natural industry for blockchain is logistics. Yojee utilises AI and blockchain to build an ‘Uber-type’ software for delivery service companies. Users may track their dispatchers and the system helps with routing and dispatching. Their platform records transactions and deliveries with blockchain, allowing for smart contracts, digital bills of lading, foreign exchange, payments and immutable records.
Averspace hopes to disrupt the real estate industry via its blockchain enabled digital rental contracts. They aim to reduce the pain a homeowner and tenant go through when executing a rental agreement by reducing the need for a real estate agent.
Singapore Power Group, the corporation resulting from the privatisation of the Singapore government’s electricity and gas businesses, has joined a consortium of utility companies across the world to co-develop blockchain solutions that will reduce costs and improve the adoption of renewable energy sources. The two main use cases in this sector are to facilitate the integration of upstream and downstream parties, and the payment settlement for utility bills.
Attores, a digital certification startup is working with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to issue diploma certificates via blockchain to its students. Employers and other academic institutions can potentially reduce their efforts to verify Ngee Ann graduates’ certificates. It also has the added benefit of being easily published to digital recruitment platforms like LinkedIn.
Given a choice, which blockchain project will you back? Let us know in the comments!