Blockchain – The digital ledger used in Bitcoin also used for medicine, theme parks and ticketing?
*Exclusive interview from Peter Shiau, CEO and CoFounder of Blockstack.io
Peter Shiau, CEO and CoFounder of Blockstack.io, a company providing blockchain as a service predicted recently over the phone. Blockstack.io was recently acquired by Digital Asset Holdings, a company run by Blythe Masters, who caused quite a stir when she joined Digital Asset in March 2015. Ms. Masters is the youngest woman ever to achieve Managing Director at JP Morgan, and she is often credited with creating the modern credit default swap. Although details of the acquisition and plans for Blockstack.io are private, I was able to obtain exclusive insight into the blockchain from the CEO whose team built Blockstack.io into a platform to be used to enable enterprises like financial institutions to build financial applications on a private blockchain.
Background.The blockchain is a framework to create a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain-based system collectively keep the ledger up to date, and it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement.
In its most widely known application as the digital ledger behind Bitcoin, the blockchain prevents double-spending and keeps track of transactions continuously. It is what makes possible a currency without a central bank. The blockchain lets people who have no particular confidence in each other collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority. As the Economist stated “Simply put, it is a machine for creating trust.”
So where does the Mr. Shiau see the applications of the blockchain in the future?
MedTech.Mr. Shiau sees blockchain’s usefulness in the MedTech (medical technology) field primarily in the area of medical records. This Fall a blockchain hackathon was won by a MedTech company in Ireland this fall that used the blockchain for specifically this purpose.
Theme Parks.Mr. Shiau appeared intrigued by applications of the blockchain at amusement parks around the world. He was inspired by Disney’s MagicBand, which uses radio transmitters so that theme park staff know the name of park-goers within 40 feet. If the blockchain was integrated, not only could confidential information such as identity be captured from further away, but the transfer of money, tokens and other items could be offered more seamlessly between child, parent and others.
FashionTech.Does the theme park application also fall into the realm of FashionTech (Fashion Technology)?” The wristband would serve as a wearable using blockchain technology. “Yes, like that, similar to its current state but using the blockchain.” according to Mr. Shiau.
Event Organization.“I could also see the applications for electronic ticketing. Buying and selling tickets securely so that you know your tickets are good for that event. It would would reduce the need for scalping, and potentially give event promoters and venue owners more visibility into the movement of the tickets themselves.”
The blockchain can ensure for the secure transfer of tickets between individuals. This would make ticketing peer-to-peer versus secondary market. It would diminish squatters who buy as many tickets as possible when they’re first released with the sole intention of selling them at a higher price. On top of that, StubHub and other secondary markets charge as much as 20% in commissions for matching a buyer with a seller. If sold on the open market, most extra profits would go to venues and artists.
It is apparent that blockchain could revolutionize industries outside finance. Mr. Shiau and I discussed the speed of adoption- could it be an obstacle? On one hand, the blockchain is taking years for the finance world to integrate and accept. On the other hand, that industry is also the most regulated. Once the blockchain fits into the realm of regulation it could be smoother sailing for other areas. Also, blockchain is still disassociating from the negative stigma around Bitcoin, its first popularly known application.