Why do we need blockchain technology?

  • Blockchain technology offers enhanced security and transparency for transactions and data management.
  • It enables decentralisation, reducing reliance on central authorities and intermediaries.
  • Blockchain’s versatility allows for applications across various industries, from finance to supply chain management.

Blockchain technology is a decentralised system that records transactions across a network of computers. Each transaction is stored in a “block” linked to previous transactions, ensuring transparency and security. It offers enhanced security by encrypting and distributing data, reducing fraud risk, and increasing transparency. Blockchain enables faster transactions by eliminating intermediaries.

Enhanced security and transparency

Securing transactions and data: One of the most significant advantages of blockchain technology is its ability to secure transactions and data. Traditional systems often rely on centralised databases, which are vulnerable to hacking, fraud, and data breaches. Blockchain, however, uses cryptographic techniques to ensure that data is securely recorded in a decentralised ledger. Each transaction is verified by a network of nodes, making it extremely difficult for unauthorised alterations to occur.

In blockchain, each block of data is linked to the previous one, creating a chain that is virtually tamper-proof. This immutability is a crucial feature that enhances the integrity of the data stored on the blockchain. For example, in financial transactions, this ensures that once a transaction is recorded, it cannot be altered or deleted, providing a reliable and secure record of all activities.

Transparency and trust: Transparency is another cornerstone of blockchain technology. All transactions recorded on a blockchain are visible to all participants in the network, fostering an environment of trust. This is particularly important in industries where transparency is critical, such as finance, supply chain management, and governance.

In the financial sector, for instance, blockchain can be used to create transparent and auditable records of transactions, reducing the risk of fraud and corruption. Similarly, in supply chain management, blockchain can provide real-time visibility into the movement of goods, ensuring that all parties have access to accurate and up-to-date information. This level of transparency can help build trust among stakeholders, improving collaboration and efficiency.

Also read: How do AI and blockchain work together?

Decentralisation: Reducing reliance on central authorities

The power of decentralisation: Decentralisation is a fundamental principle of blockchain technology, and it offers several key benefits over traditional centralised systems. In a decentralised network, no single entity has control over the entire system. Instead, control is distributed among a network of nodes, each of which participates in verifying and recording transactions.

This decentralised structure reduces the risk of a single point of failure, making the system more resilient to attacks and disruptions. It also eliminates the need for intermediaries, such as banks or other financial institutions, to facilitate transactions. This can lead to significant cost savings and increased efficiency, as transactions can be processed directly between parties without the need for a central authority to mediate.

Empowering individuals and communities: Blockchain’s decentralised nature also empowers individuals and communities by giving them greater control over their own data and transactions. For example, in the context of digital identity, blockchain can enable individuals to manage their own identity information securely and privately, without relying on centralised identity providers. This can help protect against identity theft and improve privacy.

In finance, decentralised finance (DeFi) platforms are using blockchain to provide financial services, such as lending, borrowing, and trading, without the need for traditional financial institutions. This can increase access to financial services for underserved populations, promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

Versatility across industries: Finance and banking: Blockchain technology has had a profound impact on the finance and banking sectors. Beyond cryptocurrencies, blockchain is being used to streamline and secure various financial processes. For instance, blockchain can facilitate cross-border payments, reducing the time and cost associated with traditional banking methods. By using blockchain, transactions can be settled in a matter of minutes, compared to the days it can take through conventional banking systems.

Moreover, blockchain can improve the efficiency of securities trading by enabling faster and more transparent settlement of trades. Smart contracts—self-executing contracts with the terms directly written into code—can automate various aspects of financial transactions, reducing the need for intermediaries and minimising the risk of human error.

Supply chain management: In supply chain management, blockchain offers a powerful tool for improving transparency and traceability. By recording every transaction and movement of goods on a blockchain, companies can create an immutable record of the entire supply chain. This can help prevent fraud, counterfeiting, and other forms of misconduct.

For example, in the food industry, blockchain can be used to trace the origin of products, ensuring that they meet safety and quality standards. If a foodborne illness outbreak occurs, blockchain can help quickly identify the source of the contamination, enabling faster and more effective responses.

A doctor holds a tablet with the words’healthcare’on it.

Healthcare: The healthcare industry can also benefit significantly from blockchain technology. One of the primary challenges in healthcare is the secure and efficient sharing of patient data. Blockchain can provide a secure platform for storing and sharing medical records, ensuring that patient data is accurate, up-to-date, and accessible to authorised healthcare providers.

Blockchain can also be used to track the supply chain of pharmaceuticals, ensuring that medications are authentic and have not been tampered with. This can help combat the problem of counterfeit drugs, which pose a significant risk to patient safety.

Real estate: In the real estate sector, blockchain can streamline the process of buying and selling property. By using blockchain to record property transactions, parties can create a transparent and tamper-proof record of ownership. This can reduce the risk of fraud and simplify the process of transferring property titles.

Smart contracts can also be used in real estate transactions to automate various aspects of the process, such as escrow services and the transfer of funds. This can make real estate transactions faster, more secure, and more efficient.

Governance and voting: Blockchain technology holds the potential to revolutionise governance and voting systems by providing a secure and transparent platform for recording votes. Traditional voting systems are often vulnerable to fraud, manipulation, and human error. Blockchain can address these issues by creating an immutable record of each vote, ensuring that the results are accurate and tamper-proof.

In addition to improving the security and integrity of voting systems, blockchain can also increase voter participation by enabling secure and convenient online voting. This can make it easier for people to participate in elections, enhancing democratic processes and promoting civic engagement.

Environmental considerations

Addressing energy consumption: One of the criticisms of blockchain technology, particularly in the context of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is its high energy consumption. The Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism, used by Bitcoin and several other blockchains, requires significant computational power, leading to substantial energy usage.

To address this issue, the blockchain community is exploring more energy-efficient alternatives, such as Proof of Stake (PoS). PoS reduces the energy required for mining by selecting validators based on the number of tokens they hold and are willing to “stake” as collateral. This can significantly decrease the environmental impact of blockchain operations.

Sustainable blockchain initiatives: Several initiatives are underway to develop sustainable blockchain solutions. For example, Ethereum, the second-largest blockchain platform, is transitioning from PoW to PoS with its Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. This move is expected to reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption by over 99%, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

In addition to improving consensus mechanisms, blockchain projects are also exploring the use of renewable energy sources to power their operations. By leveraging solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, blockchain networks can minimise their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Also read: New crypto ecosystem to showcase promising blockchain projects

The future of blockchain technology

Continued innovation and development: As blockchain technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see ongoing innovation and development in the field. Researchers and developers are constantly working on improving the scalability, security, and efficiency of blockchain systems. This includes exploring new consensus mechanisms, developing layer-2 solutions to enhance scalability, and creating interoperability protocols to enable seamless communication between different blockchains.

Expanding applications: The applications of blockchain technology are likely to expand as more industries recognise its potential. Beyond the sectors mentioned earlier, blockchain could be applied to areas such as education, where it can provide secure and verifiable records of academic credentials, or the entertainment industry, where it can be used to protect intellectual property and manage digital rights.

Overcoming challenges: Despite its many advantages, blockchain technology faces several challenges that must be addressed for it to achieve widespread adoption. These include regulatory and legal issues, scalability concerns, and the need for greater public awareness and understanding of the technology. By working collaboratively, industry stakeholders, policymakers, and educators can address these challenges and unlock the full potential of blockchain.

Promoting inclusivity and access: Blockchain technology has the potential to promote greater inclusivity and access to services for people around the world. By reducing reliance on centralised intermediaries, blockchain can lower barriers to entry and provide more equitable access to financial, healthcare, and other essential services. This can help bridge the gap between underserved populations and the resources they need to thrive.


Lydia Luo

Lydia Luo, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Send tips to j.y.luo@btw.media.

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