Of all the problems facing the modern economy, information insecurity reigns supreme. The Internet has given companies of all stripes the potential to do business faster and on a larger scale than ever before. But it has also created unprecedented opportunities for fraud and data theft. Even the most careful companies face an enormous risk doing business online.

Blockchain technology has the potential to reduce these risks dramatically. This recordkeeping method involves tying individual pieces of data to each other. If any one piece is altered, the entire chain changes. This makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access or modify data, reducing the risk of theft or fraud dramatically. By shoring up the security and reliability of information, blockchain technology will revolutionize the entire economy, but should have particularly potent effects on:

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing plays a critical role in raising public awareness of valuable but unknown products. In this model, a merchant works with publishers to market their products through search engine ads, emails, online content, and other publicity methods. The merchant then compensates publishers for new customers they bring in.

Unfortunately, due to information insecurity, publishers and merchants both have trouble taking advantage of affiliate marketing. Publishers have to worry about developers failing to pay commissions on new customers they bring in, while merchants fear that publishers will make fraudulent claims about their services or past successes. Both parties also have to deal with unclear contracts, which raise the risk of a dispute even if everyone involved is acting in good faith.

One group leveraging the blockchain to tackle this issue is RefToken. They're using their technology to connect publishers and merchants swiftly and securely. This platform stores all data on customer conversions and revenue in the blockchain, creating an immutable record that both parties can look at. This allows for automatic commission payments, ensuring that publishers receive exactly the compensation they deserve. It also gives developers the opportunity to look at publishers' backgrounds and make sure they can provide reliable marketing services. By developing self-enforcing smart contracts that clearly state what each party's obligation is to the other, RefToken minimizes the potential for disputes between publishers and developers.

2. Healthcare

Medical providers and their patients both have to worry about information integrity. Providers need to ration scarce medical resources, making it essential for them to confirm that the financial information patients provide to pay for their care is valid. The time it takes to confirm this information slows down the care delivery process, making it harder for providers to treat patients in time. Likewise, patients hand over highly sensitive financial and health data to their medical providers; they thus need to be sure that those providers can keep it safe.

One company thinks they have the solution is Well, which uses the blockchain to bolster health data security while speeding up care delivery. As a platform that connects therapists and other health providers to patients, WELL creates an unchangeable record of patients' health, financial, and other essential information. Because no part of the blockchain can be altered without every piece of information changing, this minimizes the opportunity for inaccuracies and fraud in medical data. It also uses advanced encryption to prevent unauthorized users from accessing and stealing sensitive data.

3. Real Estate Investing

Considering the high upfront cost of real estate, investors must have considerable assets in order to participate in this market. But they also have to have highly specialized knowledge of the particular properties and markets where they are investing. Unfortunately, many investors lack the specialized knowledge to determine whether particular properties are profitable. This forces them to invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts and other specialized vehicles for evaluating and making real estate investments. But because these vehicles provide little transparency on how investors' funds are used, investors run the risk that their money will be mismanaged. They also have to pay high administrative fees.

A blockchain startup called Realisto keeps these risks and costs to a minimum through their technology. The platform relies on a team of expert local investors to put together a pool of real estate projects. Investors can invest in this pool by buying tokens, which are tied to the value of the real estate in the pool. Realisto uses a blockchain to keep track of the value of this pool, minimizing any chance that critical investment information might be falsified or inaccurate. It also uses smart contracts, or blockchain-based contracts that automatically pay dividends to investors whenever the value of their tokens increases. Not only does this let investors be more confident about the value of their investments, but because no one needs to read and interpret the contracts, they help keep administrative fees to a minimum.