Stop me if you've heard this before, but blockchain has been touted as the be-all and end-all solution to every business problem you could possibly have. Whether you are trying to raise investment capital, gain new customers, track your existing customers, clarify logistics, or just have a little fun, there is a seemingly endless array of applications.
Take the energy industry: when you have millions of people utilizing power grids, on often antiquated systems, what should be a simple tracking system has become needlessly complex. Solar power being generated by one household can often be applied to another, or not credited at all. Incorrect consumption rates are noted. All of these become headaches for customer service and customers.
In one of the latest implementations of blockchain, companies are working with energy utilities to solve the problem of getting you the power you've paid for. Dr. Jemma Green, co-founder of Power Ledger, thinks it is the right time to be thinking about disruption. "We're the first in the space, and we've had no shortage of demand from utilities."
Green is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Power Ledger's software uses pre-existing infrastructure, like smart meters, to track the energy generated and consumed by each household. Pilot projects with Tech Mahindra in India, White Gum Valley Management in Australia, and Kansai Electric Power in Japan show that there is definite interest in disrupting the energy industry.
And investors are interested too -- Power Ledger raised the largest ICO in Australian history, at $34 million through a combination of three different cryptocurrencies -- Ethereum, Bitcoin and Litecoin -- from over 15,000 supporters.
It's estimated that by using the open ledger system afforded by the blockchain, over 60 percent of the bookkeeping and transaction-related issues currently suffered by the energy utilities will disappear overnight.
So how can you tell if blockchain is a good application for your business?
You want to decentralize your marketplace.
This is the top reason that most people choose a blockchain offering -- to create a peer-to-peer marketplace.
In a traditional power company, they set the price and you can only purchase from them. Via Power Ledger, every person who generates power can be a supplier, and you can purchase from them and pay them directly. This all happens seamlessly.
You're dealing in smart contracts, or digitally delivered assets.
If your business sells physical products that need to be transferred to a customer, this may not be the best solution for you. However, if your assets are digital, like software, it is perfect -- and here's why:
Kodak recently announced they will be utilizing blockchain to track digital media assets -- like photos and videos. Anyone registering their service will have a unique ID for all media. If those images are found elsewhere without proper licensure, royalties will need to be paid to the owners, as they'll have all records traced from the original source.
Timing isn't crucial.
Right now, blockchain transactions aren't immediate. There is a software limitation that causes at best a few millisecond delay, at worst multiple minutes. If you have an application that requires instantaneous results, then this is not the best option for you.
In the meantime, I expect more companies will jump on the blockchain bandwagon as they find relevant uses for the technology.