More than Money: Get the Gist on bitcoins, blockchains, & smart contracts

What is Changing?

Financial institutions are investing in the blockchain to make their job easier and more secure. R3 CEVFootnote 2 is a company specifically set up to help banks trial blockchain technology. They lead a consortium of 42 banks who want to see how blockchain technology could change their industry, the potential of which R3 compares to how the internet changed the music and media industries.

The Z/Yen GroupFootnote 3 researched blockchain technology and its potential effects for the insurance industry. They expressed a number of concerns especially over government regulations as well as mining decentralization and scalability. However, they think the positives outweigh the negatives saying that blockchain technology would improve both integrity and security which are essential for financial services. (a German Blockchain venture) is attempting to be the first real world Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).’s service connects the internet of things to the sharing economy via the blockchain and smart contracts. Once a user pays to rent a bicycle or house or any other property, the physical lock on the property is automatically unlocked and ready for use without any middleman such as Uber or Airbnb. Front door deadbolts, padlocks, and car doors are all capable of being connected to the internet and controlled by smart contracts.

However, the blockchain could be useful for so much more than just financial transactions. Ubitquity (an Enterprise-Ready Blockchain-Secured Platform for Real Estate Recordkeeping) has developed a blockchain platform specifically for the real estate industry. The company says the new platform will improve the title transfer process by making it faster, more accurate, and more transparent for fraud prevention. And they say it will improve the due diligence process for the industry.

Governments are also exploring the benefits of blockchain and smart contracts. Honduras has long had to contend with fraud from bureaucrats exploiting hacks in the system to acquire beachfront property, but the Central American nation is considering a real estate blockchain similar to Ubitquity. The UK government is looking at blockchain to improve the transparency and accuracy of its record keeping. The Isle of Man is conducting a trial of a technical experiment, the first government agency anywhere to attempt such work. China has partnered with Factom to apply blockchain and smart contracts to their smart cities initiative.

Going a step further, the self-proclaimed micronation of Liberland in the Balkans is in talks with Pax, a blockchain based “virtual nation” of volunteer citizens upholding its laws. Pax is a peer-to-peer legal system that some believe will change the way society thinks about government and potentially decentralize and distribute many government services around the globe.

Multiple organizations are working to use blockchain tech to make voting more secure, and anonymous. In 2014 a major political party in Denmark, the Liberal Alliance, used blockchain tech for its own internal party voting. Since the blockchain relies on consensus anyway, it is inherently a voting platform and could one day be modified by government entities for such purpose.