Blockchain, the underlying infrastructure behind cryptocurrencies, is likely among the most transformative technological innovations of our age, with promising use cases for many industries. In a nutshell, blockchain is an open and censorship-resistant database model, secured by encryption and decentralization. Blockchain records information in blocks on a shared ledger, storing a synchronized copy of it on all the systems participating in the network, hence assuring its immutability. As companies start recognizing the benefits of this technology, we’ve seen exciting new blockchain developments this past year. Below we’ll take a look at five of the biggest blockchain trends of 2021 and what they might mean for the next year.
Blockchain in supply chain
Blockchain can be a game-changing technology for multiple sectors, especially for the supply chain industry.
The distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine has created more stringent logistic requirements, due to the vaccine’s limited supply and need to be kept refrigerated. As a result, two UK-based hospitals have started experimenting with blockchain technology — which they were previously using to track chemotherapy drugs — to monitor and track the supply chain of vaccines. Vaccine shipments are equipped with internal temperature sensors, and a rise above the minimum threshold temperature will automatically create an entry in the blockchain, removing the affected dose from the supply chain.
FedEx has integrated the blockchain into its chain of custody to improve traceability and provide a trustworthy record, helping to address customer disputes.
DeBeers is using the blockchain’s tracking technology to monitor the source and progress of every single natural diamond they mine.
Smart contracts are fostering blockchain adoption
2021 has seen an increase in blockchain adoption, partly thanks to the development of smart contracts. Smart contracts are essentially agreements between two or more parties, recorded as computer code on the blockchain — making them immutable and tamper-proof for all parties. Smart contracts are automatically executed by the blockchain when the set predetermined conditions are met, making trustless agreements possible without any intermediaries.
Smart contract algorithms make blockchain-based services accessible for companies that don’t have the means to invest in years of research and development for their blockchain network. DeFi platforms like Ethereum, Solana and Avalanche enable companies to create smart contracts directly on their blockchain and benefit from their immutability. Statistics by Valuates Reports predict the global smart contracts market will grow from US$106.7 million in 2019 to US$345.4 million by 2026 — with increasing adoption in banking, supply chain, insurance, and real estate being some of the major driving factors of the industry.
You can use smart contracts for all sorts of situations that range from financial derivatives to insurance premiums, breach contracts, property law, credit enforcement, financial services, legal processes, and crowdfunding agreements.
The concept of a virtual metaverse has caught the attention of some of the biggest companies worldwide, considering Facebook’s US$10 billion initiative to rename the company Meta and start developing a metaverse strategy.
Pros of the metaverse:
Increased engagement — virtual reality is supposed to increase the time users spend online and consequently spur content consumption
The new content market — the metaverse offers huge opportunities for creating and selling virtual content, far greater than those of Instagram or Tik Tok
A new branch of the economy — according to Zuckerberg, Metaverse must have its own comprehensive economic system
A new level of communication — metaverse will allow people thousands of kilometers away from each other to communicate as if they were sitting in the same room