Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology have been at the forefront of media since their astronomical rise in value and volatility this past year. While many investors have been successful buying and selling the cryptocurrencies, the assets don't yet inspire enough confidence to be long term, trusted stores of value. Cryptocurrencies, while powerful and interesting in their own right, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what blockchain technology can do.

Consisting of a system of decentralized ledgers and smart contracts, blockchain platforms could have have applications in nearly any industry where value is traded. Companies from around the world, both small and large, have started to experiment with the technology as a means of streamlining internal and external tasks and experiences. As the tech continues to develop with more interest being poured in every day, here are 5 sectors the blockchain is rapidly changing.

1. Data verification.

While the process for verifying sensitive information may seem tedious, large institutions currently do not have quick and secure methods of making identifications. Having to rely only on information provided by users to check with sparse databases, the industry is desperately in need of a change.

That is where a company like Verifier comes in, a new startup that uses blockchain to create an incentive structure for real world "verifiers" to back check identification information.

Users can register for the platform and earn Verifier tokens by helping the platform identify people they may know. By using blockchain technology, Verifier creates an ecosystem of "verifiers" whose verifications are securely stored and distributed to institutions via the blockchain.

2. Voting.

Coverage of the 2016 election seems to drag on forever, with allegations of manipulation and voter fraud leading the headlines. In addition to their vulnerability, current methods of voting, such as paper ballots, are slow and costly while not ideal for regions lacking polling stations.

One company, Agora, recently helped process the first blockchain-backed presidential election in Sierra Leone. With a mission to enable fully-transparent elections around the world, Agora helps reduce voting costs and provide greater accessibility to a larger group of people.

Digital voting systems aim to help eliminate fraud and bring transparency to elections. For developing countries with frequent corruption or fraud, this could be an opportunity to democratize the voting process using blockchain technology.

3. Audio.

The music industry remains one of the most hostile industries to those trying to enter. While many creators have trouble marketing their content, music creators have an especially tough time accessing markets that would give them the opportunity to impress upon more listeners and earn money off of their content.

Innovative blockchain companies have made it their mission to bring power back to the creators and help incentivize all parties to explore mutually beneficial solutions.

For example, the decentralized audio content platform DAC could help small media companies and creators better and more efficiently distribute and profit from their content. 

4. Crypto Transactions.

The cryptocurrency industry has grown out of investor interest in the value of the assets. While there are many solutions for traders in the $700+ billion industry, there isn't currently a framework for applications to easily accept these tokens and tap into the market.

A new company called OPEN Platform is developing a system that allows for applications to easily accept cryptocurrency payments. Currently, the blockchain payment infrastructure for developers to accept cryptocurrency does not exist, and for a developer to build an in-house solution would require considerable time, expense, and blockchain programming knowledge.

OPEN seeks to enable the 500 billion dollars worth of liquid cryptocurrency to be spent, and spur the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency.

5. Education.

As professional investors have hyped up crypto, many amateur investors have decided to enter the market in an attempt to compete for the millions at stake. While the market is open to everyone, not many resources exist for learning not only how the assets are traded but also how the technology works.

Utilizing the quick and secure data transfers and immense data storage offered by the technology, startup HybridBlock allows users to access a large database of tutorials and material regarding all aspects of the new tech. Additionally, the platform also allows for users to trade crypto in the same interface, further streamlining the process for investors without much experience.

As blockchain technology continues to develop, more and more companies are exploring its use cases beyond cryptocurrency. While blockchain has many applications, not all of them have the potential to be applied in a timely manner. The aforementioned 5 sectors are ripe for blockchain innovation, making them must watches for investors, analysts, and consumers alike.