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bitcoin pizza day

Bitcoin Pizza Day

Today is the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin Pizza Day celebrated by the entire crypto world. Exactly ten years ago today, Laszlo Hanyecz, a Florida programmer who had also contributed to the source code of Bitcoin in the past, made the first known purchase of physical goods with bitcoin.

In 2010 bitcoin was already on the market for around a year but not a single good was yet paid for with bitcoins until Laszlo decided to push it with some of his coins. He posted on the forum that he will pay 10,000BTC to anybody who will get 2 pizzas to his house. Another user took the challenge and ordered 2 big Papa John’s pizzas delivered to Laszlo’s place after getting his bitcoins worth $41 at the time.

As the bitcoin price grew ever since, the value of those famous two pizzas today is more than $90 mln US dollars.

Hanyecz, also known as the Bitcoin Pizza Guy never regretted spending his bitcoins for his meal. At that moment they had no value, and nothing would change if someone didn’t prove that a real purchase can be made with bitcoin. This was a breakthrough for the whole industry paving a way for bitcoin recognition and adoption. 

Our team at Nooor Blockchain Armenia is fond of traditions and we were planning to throw a huge Pizza Party with our Nooor community. But due to the pandemic the plans have changed. Anyways, we decided to organize a pizza giveaway for the network and now we already have those two lucky guys who are going to enjoy their pizzas today!

Congratulations!

Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day, folks! 

Blockchain and covid

Code Red: is there a place for blockchain to save the situation with COVID-19

Working in the tech industry tends to become more challenging after the COVID-19 outbreak… feeling the weight of responsibility on how we can direct the technological capacity to “stitch” the world together.

Our team works on different projects and initiatives related to blockchain mostly inspired by the idea to make this world a better place to live in. And here is the question: how fast is changing the place that we want to improve and where we can put our effort to save what we have today and to reshape the outcomes we plan for the future.

One thing is certain, the technological revolution is “obliged” to happen now: we are witnessing a restructuring of the global economic order that could lead to an entirely new civilization where technological advancement is the new normal.

In my previous article on the blockchain role in the healthcare industry, we have explored a number of interesting projects that plan to disrupt the space and provide the user with more secure, transparent and decentralized solutions. We didn’t expect plan changes, so in this article, I would like to reflect on some ideas on the role of blockchain during and after the COVID-19 outbreak when we are in the cusp of digital transformation and socio-economic crisis.

So let’s figure out what this pandemic brings to the table for blockchain?

Disruption of supply chains in the healthcare industry

Counterfeit facemasks and medical devices, substandard hand sanitizers, and unauthorized antiviral medication… you definitely can continue the list.

Bringing some numbers here: under the Operation Pangea XIII (3 – 10 March 2020) potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals worth more than USD 14 million, as well as 37,000 unauthorized and counterfeit medical devices were seized by the authorities of involved countries. As pharmaceutical and medical device supply chains are intricate enough including a number of activities that happen at the same place, the coronavirus outbreak paves the platform for the criminals to flourish their businesses and initiatives.  A pure opportunity to welcome counterfeit and defective products in the markets, when everyone is focused on saving lives. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of supply chains within the healthcare industry, once again exposing the vulnerabilities of many organizations.  

Urte Jakimaviciute, MSc, Senior Director of Market Research at GlobalData states: “Lack of supply chain efficiency, transparency and authenticity has been an ongoing issue and the root of many challenges faced by the healthcare companies. While most organizations have supply chain risk management strategies in place, the current outbreak is not a typical event. The COVID-19 crisis is a huge stress test for the industry once again reiterating the need for change.” 

It is obvious that transparency is a necessity for each point of the supply chain because, at this crucial moment when each resource counts, we do not want to face counterfeit or faulty products to enter our markets. While the companies rethink their risk management policies and plan to reshape their supply chains, we see the rise of blockchain technology that is designed to improve the traceability, to ensure the authenticity of the products and to enhance the efficiency of supply chain processes. Blockchain applications have a lot to perform here. Although we witness a number of challenges with real implications of the technology in this industry, there are many promising solutions that grant us with a ray of hope. 

Odds and ends of data privacy and the game our governments play

Yes! Our society has never been this equipped with the novelties of surveillance and data sourcing. Outrage for a failing healthcare system at global proportions, misinformation, biased data interpretations have created the perfect context for governments to implement mass surveillance programs, hand in hand with tech companies. The “perfect narrative” of COVID-19  justifies all the means and strategies undertaken by the governments to prevent the society from the reverse impact of the pandemic.

Governments respond to the pandemic in different ways, but one thing is certain: urgent adoption of mass surveillance programs to track the sensitive personally identifiable information (medical records, identity, location) is one of the essential issues that we need to cope with. 

When talking about mass surveillance, we can imagine the techniques in the sci-fi movies, but now it is a pure reality: making use of AI, facial recognition, tracking devices, a database of tracked data, identity authentication. This became the modus operandi for most of the countries that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. You imagine China, but the other democratic countries are not an exception by implementing surveillance techniques overnight, mostly relying on GPS data, cell phone tracking and tracing, etc.

These so-called contact-tracing apps help public health officials get ahead of the spread of COVID-19, which may in turn allow an easing of social distancing requirements.

One of the important questions to discuss is whether privacy will survive the coronavirus. More than ever before our personal data is under attack and the security programs do not fully prevent data breaches and ensure us from the usage of our personal data for other purposes.

In the times of transformation of the geopolitical and regulatory landscape, we look again into the eyes of the technology that can solve the issue of data confidentiality, data integrity, authentication, validation, and much more.

There are a number of interesting solutions in this regard which provide the expected outcomes through cryptographic protocols. The application of smart contracts and storage of the collected information on the blockchain can become the remedy for the privacy issue. Below you can see some projects developed by the giants like IBM, WHO, MIT, so the hope gets bigger that the attention of the core players is in the right direction.

MIT’s PrivateKit – the app will enable users to match the personal diary of location data on their smartphones with anonymized, redacted, and blurred location history of infected patients. The digital contact tracing uses overlapped GPS and Bluetooth trails that allow an individual to check if they have crossed paths with someone who was later diagnosed positive for the virus. 

SafeTrace – Tor Bair’s Enigma, a data encryption firm, has developed a platform to facilitate privacy-preserving contact tracing for COVID-19. SafeTrace lets users share sensitive location and health data with other users and officials, without compromising the privacy of that data. This service enables users to safely and privately share location data and their infection status. The objective of this tool is to help track social infection vectors.

MiPasa is utilizing data analytics and privacy tools that were previously only available to elite financial institutions and adapted them for a public health context

Becoming that cashless society

People tend to change their behavior slowly – but the pandemic can serve as a catalyst to adjust to the new reality. Let’s get some ideas on how crypto can serve for good in the “era of COVID-19”. 

Donations

When the world is locked down and most of the countries need support, sending donations and payments becomes critical. Here is where blockchain shines above all else and we become the spectators of some very nice use cases. 

In a bid to accentuate the relief process for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian and Dutch Red Cross society is increasing its modes of accepting payment, with the latest development introducing support for the premier cryptocurrency – Bitcoin. Hopefully, very soon this will become a norm. 

The pandemic created a base for many projects to upvoice their initiatives and be noticed by the community. For example, I came across the Helperbit platform, which offers to raise money for charitable causes. COVID-19 was not an exception. 

Another very important aspect comes to be donation tracking. Alipay, the payment processing platform managed by Alibaba, introduced a solution that runs on blockchain in order to allow donors and charitable organizations to better cooperate in a more transparent manner. 

Crypto as a payment mean

The traditional payments ecosystem exposes countless people to the risk of a COVID-19 infection (paper money, ATMs, credit cards, POS terminals, you name the next one). With this in mind, are we ready to finally adopt the digital wallets? It seems to me, the answer is obvious. Moreover, as the traditional financial system weakens, the role of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, crypto assets, stablecoins, and the emerging DeFi platforms rises day after day, with the mission to provide consumers with credible alternatives to existing financial services. 

On the other hand with the burdens attached to traditional cashless payments, such as high transaction fees, slow settlement times, and increased cybersecurity risks, there will be an increased demand for alternative solutions. And through the power of decentralized blockchain systems, crypto payments may be the answer. 

We need to do what it takes to grasp the opportunity of wide adoption of blockchain technology and crypto. The reality is we are on the outfall of digitalization and lots of challenges are coming on our way. The COVID-19 brought to the stage the issues that were evident but many refused to see. There is no option for putting band-aids on the problems that our society fights against every day, we better utilize the technology to find the real solutions. 

Resources:

https://blog.goodaudience.com/leftovers-of-privacy-in-the-era-of-covid-19-encryption-and-cryptography-1f77c753e50c

https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-contact-tracing-apps-cryptography/

https://www.ledgerinsights.com/ibm-oracle-launch-blockchain-to-integrate-covid-19-data-from-world-health-organization-cdc/

https://hackernoon.com/crypto-weekly-3-how-the-world-will-change-after-a-pandemic-and-blockchains-role-in-it-at543274

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/covid-19-economic-crisis-recession-economists

https://www.ledgerinsights.com/uae-uses-blockchain-digital-identity-to-battle-covid-19/

https://thefinancialbrand.com/93845/coronavirus-crisis-covid19-sarscov2-cash-checks-crypto-solution-card-digital-payment/

blockchain in healthcare

Blockchain in Healthcare

The technological disruption changes our lives drastically and we don’t even manage to notice how we face the necessity of tech solutions in each and every aspect of our life. We seek better customer care, we look for the most qualified doctors, the fastest medical support, and of course, we all need that at the very moment, immediately. The healthcare system has gone through a long journey to become what it is now and through the time we have advanced in almost everything, disruptive innovations for operations, the development of biomedics, genomics, which transfer the reality that we have today, the transformation of the pharma industry and much more, so why do we need that? To put it in one word: to save more lives, to defeat the horror diseases, to create better conditions for people all over the globe and yes, technology has its say here.

It is difficult to find a concise definition of Digital Health. Its scope is very wide. There are a number of definitions that may describe the e-health concept outlining the whole complexity. Simply saying, Digital Health refers to the information and processes, and technologies and systems that enable a person to make informed choices about their own health, take action to improve it, and monitor their progress to realize what works for them and what doesn’t. By contributing their own biological and behavioral data to the health system, people can give permission to carefully selected organizations and people in the system to anticipate and respond to their health and care needs, help good things happen, and, where possible, prevent bad things from happening.

Digital healthcare trends are largely driven by the need for better patient care, faster and more accurate analysis, and on-demand access to medical data. The pace of innovation in digital healthcare began gaining momentum with artificial intelligence (AI), and it is set to further accelerate as the industry turns to blockchain technology.

Global blockchain technology complements healthcare artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) — based marketplace offerings and is expected to cross $500 million by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CARG) of 61.4 percent, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report.

What is wrong about the digital health system? Do we need some “blockchain magic powder”? Let us dive into the industry challenges to find out where the blockchain applications can be of use.

Patient data management

Currently, the HIE (health electronic exchange) serves as the intermediary that facilitates the peer-to-peer exchange of electronic health records (EHR) among member participants. The system also acts as a ledger that tracks what data was exchanged. However, the model has little incentive to offer except the fact that it’s a state-designated body. With blockchain, members or healthcare industry participants have the opportunity to benefit from a distributed ledger to securely access and exchange electronic healthcare information without having to deal with a rather complex system of brokered trust. Another major problem is concerned with the master-patient index (MPI). It involves linking the health records and transactions of patients with their varied “identities” as they interact with various healthcare providers and other entities. The challenge is only becoming more complex and expensive with every passing day. This is also why patient data integrity remains a key concern, as it may become subject to risks such as data selling, data leakage, and fraudulent mismanagement.

To alleviate these limitations and risks, a blockchain-based approach could leverage cryptography to validate patient identity and strengthen data probity, too. Blockchain records can be shared among licensed participants who can add to — but not delete or alter — the transaction logs. The blockchain ensures all the transactions are encrypted and must be verified by the network. It also allows for introducing standardization in building an MPI-like list. For example, instead of allowing multiple ways to input data, the blockchain makes it certain that every participant enters/adds data in a specified way. Blockchain would thus provide much stronger data security and integrity of records and a highly standardized method to maintain data.

Use cases to check

BurstIQ — The company uses blockchain to improve the way medical data is shared and used

Factom — Factom employs blockchain technology to securely store digital health records

MedicalChain — Medicalchain’s blockchain-based platform maintains a record of the origin and protects the patient identity

Cost efficiency

Unlike the existing central system that fails to see significant volumes of transactions, thereby staying expensive, the use of blockchain would enable an evident reduction in overhead costs, giving participating groups greater incentive for a sustainable business case. Moreover, with near-real-time processing of requests, a platform underpinned by blockchain would facilitate much faster, more secure, and more efficient transitions/exchanges of health records between related parties.

The application of smart contracts in digital health projects will create a new level for the no-intermediary system. The healthcare system today is fraught with excess overhead costs, bureaucracy, and third-party intermediaries — all of which add to cost and complexity. The existing centralized system used to facilitate interoperability and transactions among participants also suffers from inconsistent rules and permissions, which makes it difficult for the member health organization to access the right patient data at the right time. Blockchain enables increased trust among participating parties. By making available smart contracts, the technology helps members to solely rely on contracts that are automatically enforced when certain security conditions are met.

Moreover, by empowering member health organizations to buy, sell and transfer value (e.g., medical claims data, cryptocurrency payments, intellectual property, etc.) without an intermediary or third-party companies, blockchain would facilitate much-needed transparency between pharmacies, insurers, health payers, hospitals, physicians health plans and the overall healthcare ecosystem in general.

Use cases to check

SimplyVital Health — SimplyVital uses blockchain to create an open-source database so healthcare providers can access patient information and coordinate care

Robomed — combines AI and blockchain to offer patients a single point of care. The company deploys chatbots, wearable diagnostic tools, and telemedicine sessions to gather patient information and share it with the patient’s medical team

Patientory — Patientory’s end-to-end encryption ensures that patient data is shared safely and efficiently. Patientory helps the healthcare industry to move more quickly by housing all patient information under one roof.

Pharmacy — stopping drug counterfeit

Blockchains can provide a reliable method for tracking pharmaceuticals through the entire manufacturing and distribution process, thus cutting down on the widespread problem of drug counterfeiting. In conjunction with IoT devices used to measure factors such as temperature, blockchain technology could also be used to verify proper storage and shipping conditions or to authenticate drug quality. However, since each participant of the supply chain i.e. the manufacturer, the logistics company, the stores, and the pharmacies, etc, maintain their own separate ledger, a problem within any particular segment of the supply chain is difficult to track. Blockchain technology provides the pharmaceutical supply chain a better way to add compliance and governance within the supply chain.

Due to its inherent transparency, immutability, and distributed nature, Blockchain technology provides a mechanism that allows any participant in the supply chain to ensure that the supply chain logistics and transportation guidelines (including handling and storage conditions of the drugs), were adhered to.

Additionally, smart contracts can be programmed that automatically execute when compliance conditions are not met, thereby alerting the relevant parties in the supply chain.

Use cases to check

FarmaTrust — FarmaTrust provides future-proof blockchain and AI-based provenance systems for the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector

Chronicled — The networks help pharma companies make sure their medicines arrive efficiently, and they enable law enforcement to review any suspicious activity — like drug trafficking

Blockpharma — By scanning the supply chain and verifying all points of shipment, the company’s app lets patients know if they are taking falsified medicines With the help of a blockchain-based SCM system, Blockpharma weeds out the 15% of all medicines in the world that are fake.

Insurance fraud protection

Blockchain could also be used to combat medical insurance fraud, a problem that is estimated to cost the American healthcare system around $68 billion each year. Immutable records stored on blockchains and shared with an insurance provider can prevent some of the most common types of fraud, including billing for procedures that never took place and charging for unnecessary services.

Clinical Trials recruiting

Since the passage of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act in 1992 (which allowed the FDA to receive funding from pharmaceutical companies), the FDA has collected $7.67 billion in user fees from pharmaceutical manufacturers. This trend of annual funding to the FDA from drug manufacturers is expected to continue to increase.

Patients and physicians have begun to question the current standards for Clinical Trial funding, leading to growing concerns due to the conflict of interest and the high stakes involved.

With this, we can also discuss how blockchain can improve the quality and effectiveness of clinical trials. Medical data on blockchains could be used by trial recruiters to identify patients who could benefit from the drugs being tested. Such a recruitment system could greatly improve clinical trial enrollment, as many patients are never made aware of relevant drug trials and therefore are never given an opportunity to participate in them. While trials are conducted, blockchains can be used to ensure the integrity of the data being collected.

Use cases to check

Exochain — this pharma startup manages secure storage of patient health information on the blockchain. Exochain allows individuals to control how clinical trial researchers may interact with their medical data

The transformation we haven’t noticed. What to expect?

There is no doubt in stating that blockchain represents and promises a revolutionary future of healthcare and medicine. Moreover, we can clearly see the ties that the representatives of future tech have together: the combined applications of blockchain, AI, and IoT will bring the development of digital health to the next level.

With all these positive aspects, there are still some limitations that do not allow the industry to scale. Let us name some of them.

  • Do the projects really comply with existing regulations?

The startups and companies who are trying to excel in their new product development process meet the biggest challenge of compliance in terms of data regulation, standards, and requirements that each and every country and region has. There are a number of projects implemented by EU countries

  • Blockchain is costly, guys!

On the provider end, blockchain solutions are likely to involve a high initial investment, a fact that certainly prevents wider adoption. In addition, distributed systems tend to be significantly slower than centralized ones in terms of transactions per second. A big blockchain network, with numerous nodes, would probably need more time to transmit and synchronize data when compared to centralized systems. This is especially concerning for huge databases that would eventually need to store and track information of millions of patients. The problem would be even worse for large-sized image files, such as computed tomography or MRI scans.

References

https://builtin.com/blockchain/blockchain-healthcare-applications-companies

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/06/18/blockchain-in-healthcare-how-it-could-make-digital-healthcare-safer-and-more-innovative/#6e871a43e5a1

https://www.binance.vision/blockchain/blockchain-use-cases-healthcare

Blockchain in fashion industry

Blockchain in Fashion: the insights you never had

Spotted: your clothes coming right from Bangladesh, no authenticity for the brands you choose, exploitation of human power… what does blockchain have to do with this??

Blockchain is right there to make the nightmare disappear!

In most cases, when we talk about blockchain, Bitcoin is the first thing to come to one’s mind, but let us be clear, blockchain is revolutionizing almost all the industries one by one. Having a passion for the fashion industry and having an understanding of how the blockchain technology works, I decided to dig deeper and find out the benefits of the technology for the industry players. Long story short, let us uncover the main challenges and problems that the fashion industry faces today.

  • Supply Chain Transparency

According to Fabio Cesari, the head of research and development at YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP, a company that is consistently at the forefront of technological advancements in retail, supply chain management represents “one of the [fashion industry’s] biggest challenges”.

Even very diligent brands experience difficulties in terms of oversight and transparency due to the trans-national nature and inherent complexities of modern-day sourcing and manufacturing.

Transparency in fashion is close to non-existent, and the only tool customers have to look up a source of where the garment was produced is a simple “made in” label, which can also be deceiving. The majority of garment production can be done elsewhere and then the items will be shipped 80% complete to their local city to finish it there, which would allow the producers to put “Made In ___” cool-sounding city to appeal to their customers. Blockchain technology could allow brands and their customers to review every step of production and be assured that the information is accurate since it’s protected by this secure, decentralized data storage solution.

One of the most discussed use cases is the collaboration of London designer Martine Jarlgaard and the blockchain company Provenance, who took the initiative to produce the unprecedented “smart labels” in 2017. The consumer can scan the clothing item to see every step in the production process ranging from raw material to final product. This kind of transparency will likely be a selling point for consumers who increasingly want to know how and where their clothes are made.

  • Product Authentication

It is clear that product authentication is a natural extension of transparency. Once a brand incorporates supply chain tracking with blockchain, it will be able to offer their customers insight into the complete journey of a product, and fakes will cease to exist, as those companies won’t be able to hack into the secure blockchain network or to mimic the complex and detailed production journey of a real item.

There are still very few blockchain experiments that focus on the issue of fashion counterfeits. Fashion brand Babyghost played around with BitSE and VeChain. BitSE is a blockchain company and VeChain is a product management solution which is integrated with blockchain technology. Each product from the Spring/Summer 2017 collection was embedded with VeChain Chips, having unique identity codes that were stored on Blockchain. This allowed potential customers to learn about the story behind the garment and gauge the proof of product authenticity via a special phone app.

Digmus is a Russian-based startup that claims they developed an authentication technology applicable to any industry.

  • Inventory Control  

We have already entered the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The understanding we have about the fashion industry is gone forever because the technology is here to make the necessary improvements. Customer feedback going straight to the manufacturer, smart warehouses, transparent and trustful delivery systems, etc. This all can be a reality very soon. What we need is to give the technology a try. With the mixture of AI, machine learning, and IoT, blockchain can become a very important ingredient that will boost the transformation of the industry.

In centralized systems, that most inventory management technologies use, there’s only limited visibility and insight into where all products are at any given moment. With a distributed system, each transaction is monitored and distributed, which prevents data from leaking, being tampered with, or removed without this transaction being tracked across the whole system. This also allows agile and secure data collection, immediate data extraction for product insights, and seamless and transparent communication between the retailer, supplier, and manufacturer.

  • Creative Intellectual Property

When digging through this topic, I ran into a termin evidence of creatorship, which, in my opinion, is one of the most important things that blockchain can ensure for the fashion industry. Here is a very impressive company- Bernstein, that aims to secure IP in fashion and design,

  • Ethics behind fashion

There are so many social activist groups going against big fashion brands for harming animals, the environment, or for unethical practices. A lot of consumers are also chary of buying anything that is made of animal skin. So, how about a concept where users know where exactly their purchased product is coming from?

On the other hand, today we see how many talented people dwell in remote places making intricate fabrics of great value. Most of the times, large fashion brands hire these poor people at a very low wage. This is practically exploiting people. What if blockchain can empower people in fashion? How about clothing production moves back to the local, distributed hubs? Does blockchain have anything to do with ethics? Definitely, yes!

At the end of the tunnel, there’s always light. Likewise, the end result of blockchain is to integrate and include people in the economy who have been neglected till now. Since blockchain enables P2P trade inherently, there is no need for middlemen in the middle. People can directly buy from people rather than brands. This would certainly take production back to the local, distributed hubs.

What about the luxury brands?

Luxury goods are becoming more, well, luxurious. Brands have been haunted by counterfeiting parasites for far too long and this will eventually all come to an end as more and more luxury brands embrace blockchain technology.

Luxury brand conglomerate LVMH, owner of the Louis Vuitton Malletier, popularly known as Louis Vuitton, is on the verge of completing modalities that will see it apply blockchain in confirming the genuineness of luxury goods. Between May or June, all eyes will be on the AURA, the cryptographic provenance platform which is expected to host the Louis Vuitton and another LVMH brand, Parfums Christian Dior. Should this work, LVMH plans to extend it to its other 60-plus luxury brands, before finally extending it to brands managed by its competitors.

This was, however, not an easy task for LVMH, who had to set up a team to work closely with ethereum design studio ConsenSys and Microsoft Azure. The AURA was built as a permissioned version of the ethereum blockchain known as the Quorum.

According to French startup Arianee, which boasts former employees and advisors from luxury brands such as Tiffany’s, Omega, Balenciaga, and the Richemont group, the same technology can be used to help these firms create unique identities for bespoke handbags and expensive watches. What Arianee did to test that theory was create a new blockchain – a copy of ethereum which combines both permissioned and permissionless elements through its use of a consensus mechanism called  “proof-of-authority.” It’s permissionless in the sense that users who want to sell products to one another can interact with the blockchain, but the verifying of the ledger and issuance of new tokens is controlled by the participating businesses.

Important to mention, there are also interesting attempts to tokenize the industry, here is Fashion Coin for your consideration and another one by our beloved Fashion TV- FTV coin deluxe

Also would suggest reading this article to get more about the use cases: Fashion Blockchain Startups

Xoxo,

Your Blockchain Insider

Blockchain in Real Estate

Blockchain in Real Estate

Each and every person has faced the real estate “issue” throughout their life. It depends on the case, but maybe you wanted to purchase, sell, or make money off of your property, and what you definitely acknowledged was the big volume of paperwork, bureaucracy, payments, service fees, loads of service fees, intermediaries; and you stand there with a question in your head: “could this have been easier without any of these?” until you decide “to get rid of them”.

So if we ask ourselves “what are the main challenges concerning the real estate industry”, we will have the following points:

  • Possibility of fraud: agreements drawn up on paper can be manipulated and changed easily,
  • Heavy paperwork: paperwork often distracts from the main goal and takes unnecessary time,
  • A large number of intermediaries: paying fees to multiple parties can result in a build-up of unnecessary costs,
  • High entrance barriers: real estate property trading typically demands significant amounts of cash,  
  • The difficulty of getting real property information.

We have heard about blockchain and future technologies revolutionizing the traditional industries. So what is the case about real estate? Why do we need blockchain in this industry?

The magic feature in blockchain-based processes- executing transactions without an intermediary or a clearinghouse, very much compliments a market like real estate. The distributed ledger holds the history of a transaction, a property, an asset, or a title. The transaction is processed on the ledger, providing the opportunity to transfer funds in new ways.

Blockchain in real estate, therefore, can eliminate the need for intermediaries, like lawyers and agents, by providing means for property verification and payment to buyers. Paying for a property using cryptocurrencies can also help buyers bypass bank fees. It cuts the fees associated with escrow, by using smart contracts that can be customized according to the needs of the parties involved. The technology makes the whole process easier and provides more accurate deed transfers. It can improve transparency issues in investing as well as speed up MLS (multiple listing services) listings.

We may have the feeling that investing in real estate has typically been in the realm of the rich. Cryptocurrency and the public ledger come to change that, making investment available to the masses by purchasing “fractional ownership”. The technology allows groups of people, who don’t necessarily know one another, to pool their resources on the public ledger, and purchase a valuable property. Individual investors can then sell off their portions as needed, with all of the movement tracked publicly. Blockchain allows for one of the most sought-after, yet previously unachievable, qualities of real estate investing: liquidity.

There are a number of use cases around the globe, which are bringing innovation to the industry. See some outstanding projects below.

  • The Swedish Land Registry, tech firm ChromaWay, Kairos Future and the Telia Company have investigated the possibilities of using blockchain technology for real estate transactions.
  • Through a partnership with real estate tech startup Velox.re, Chicago’s Cook County is testing the use of the Bitcoin blockchain for transferring and tracking property titles and other public records. The Cook County Recorder’s Office is the second-largest office of its kind in the United States, and it will be the first in the US to experiment with blockchain technology.
  • Bitland provides services that allow individuals and groups to survey land and record title deeds on the Bitland blockchain – providing a permanent and auditable record – as well as acting as a liaison with the government to help resolve disputes. The pilot project is launched in Ghana.
  • The Georgian government,  in partnership with BitFury, starting April 2017, have been using blockchain to register land titles and have been verifying them using the public bitcoin blockchain. This marked the first time a national government used the bitcoin blockchain to validate and secure government actions. As for now, there are more than 300,000 land titles on Georgia’s Blockchain.
  • ConsenSys and the Dubai government are developing blockchain strategies for public services and smart city connectivity.
  • Ubitquity, Velox.RE and Propy are developing the blockchain for title deed transparency and cross-border transactions of high end residential real estate.
  • Deloitte Netherlands, the City of Rotterdam, and Cambridge Innovation Centre are developing a blockchain application for recording lease agreements.
  • IMBREX (former RexMLS) is a US-based multi-listing service that has developed a peer-to-peer proposition, whereby information providers and validators can be paid in cryptocurrency.

There are impressive startups that are trying to address the challenges of the real estate industry, moving forward with a strong belief that in the future, the application of blockchain in the industry will particularly lead to

  • less error, less duplication, less human inefficiency- eventually leading to much lower costs,
  • greater transparency (through consensus and distribution) of prices and contracts,
  • potentially reduced transaction times, and
  • greater market liquidity and turnover.

In this regard, I really liked the idea of seeing real estate as a service and not as a product. I do believe that with the applications of blockchain and future technologies, we can bring the industry to a new level, having in mind the opportunities that an asset can offer.

Other use cases: https://youteam.co.uk/blog/14-blockchain-startups-in-real-estate-to-watch/

Now you may ask: “What’s next?”…and I am telling you, I am going to watch “The Big Short”, and try to understand what could have been done differently at that time. How about you?

Also, for all new blockchain enthusiasts, we have a lot of articles about blockchain applications in various industries ranging from fashion to healthcare and from HORECA to art. Find them here.