Unless you have been in hibernation or stranded on some tropical island for the last few years, the chances are that you have probably heard of a little something called the blockchain.
Already, blockchain technology is being implemented by some of the world’s largest and most successful companies. Yet, the vast majority recognises it merely as bitcoin’s synonym.
To dismiss it without digging deeper and going beyond such headlines would be a great disservice to what could be a vital element of the next industrial revolution. Blockchain is a groundbreaking technology that can disrupt many traditional sectors such as banking and commerce but could also have the potential of integrating millions of people from the emerging markets.
It is clear that blockchain technology suits internal operations within companies, and it also has extensive uses in a B2B environment, but what about the B2C sector? Finding a way to implement it in a way which will improve customers experience, simplify processes and procedures, and save the company money, is the winning combination that will help blockchain be correctly understood.
One of the most significant uses of blockchain in the B2C word includes the area of claims management – medical claims, auto insurance claims, life insurance claims – as all of these can be simplified through the use of the blockchain.
Blockchain also taps into one of the society’s major issues – the lack of trust and knowledge of what we are consuming
The claims processing process can be notoriously lengthy, complicated and one that requires verification from a range of intermediaries before a payment can be paid out to the claimant. It can also be an expensive procedure, relying on so many third parties and needing to engage them. By using a smart contract, a claim form can be sent to all participants in the chain at the same time, and the smart contract would be able to automatically and securely complete all of the steps, from automating coverage verification to confirming the payment.
The same idea can also be applied to mortgage and loan processing. It’s a complex process with multiple stakeholders involved, inherent inefficiencies, frequent human errors and delays that cause frustration. The whole process could be made a lot more simple, as well as cheaper, if the concepts of smart contracts were introduced. For instance, smart contracts would automatically be able to verify land ownership and communicate with stakeholders such as legal and tax departments.
Another B2C concept that can be improved through the use of blockchain is parking solutions. If you combine smart contracts with sensors that can read car number plates and detect movement, then it becomes possible to automatically deduct parking fees using either digital parking wallets or a credit or debit card that is linked to the identity of the driver. This would make some significant improvements to the existing system. And it would mean 100 per cent compliance with parking fees and fines, more accuracy with payments, no need for manual patrolling, automatic computation of occupancy ratios, and more. The implications are huge.
Putting costs and time on a side, blockchain also taps into one of the society’s major issues – the lack of trust and knowledge of what are we consuming, how it is produced and where does it come from.
The numerous retail supply chain scandals have made us not only suspicious but also more aware of product’s lifecycle. Being able to track every stage of a product’s journey in one place, and in real time, will not only save companies a fortune, but it will increase customer satisfaction, trust in the client, and in the product itself.
Another way companies can become more profitable is through utilising smart contracts in the purchasing cycle. When a client places an order – say through a chatbot or website – the various steps of the processing and dispatch can be carried out automatically via smart contract. Meaning there is no need to have a 24/7 customer service team on standby. Conversely, a customer is automatically more satisfied thanks to increased accuracy and efficiency of the entire journey.
The truth is that we haven’t yet fully realised the potential that blockchain technology has. Every day, new companies and trailblazing individuals are discovering new and exciting ways that we can utilise this exciting technology to improve the way we do things. The more we explore, the more ways we will find to integrate blockchain technology into our lives, help us streamline them, saving us time, effort, and money.
One thing is for sure – blockchain technology, while technically in its infancy, has so much to offer to the world of business, as well as members of the public. To fully understand its implications, however, we must start looking beyond cryptocurrency and ask ourselves how it is going to impact our lives.
Megan Frydel is brand manager at BiteMyCoin.
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