Blockchain technology is a little understood technology that most associate with cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrency might be gaining favor, there are other uses for the blockchain technology than a new method for purchasing products. The confusion surrounding blockchain is slowing its acceptance into modern business transactions.
But first, what is blockchain? A simple definition of blockchain technology is that it is a ledger system that records any and all transactions and that it cannot be altered. Blockchain eliminates many costly business practices. Instead of multiple points of authenticity or disagreeing invoices, blockchain allows companies to simplify record-keeping for all parties involved in a transaction. The transaction doesn’t have to be a cryptocurrency either. It can record maintenance logs, analyst documents, or the weight of a package. Blockchain is a simple way to track complex interactions.
Blockchain is a series of distributed ledgers that interact with nodes. In layman’s terms, distributed ledgers means that each node keeps an independent record of transactions, but transactions can only occur if the nodes have the same information. Nodes are individual computers or phones with their own IP address. This creates a decentralized network where there is no one node that is in charge.
Here are some advantages blockchain technologies have.
Blockchain is resistant to tampering. No one, including system administrators, can go back and alter previous data in the chain. This makes it easier to prevent fraudulent activities because there will always be evidence of exactly what occurred. Any altered data will prevent transactions from continuing.
The diamond industry is a good example of the added transparency of blockchain. End consumers often want to know the diamond they are purchasing is sustainable and ethically sourced. Without blockchain, this would require trust from multiple parties—buyer to a salesperson, salesperson to warehouse, and warehouse to a mining company. This model allows for multiple people to lie about where the diamonds came from and could provide doctored receipts. Verification of any of the data would be a monstrous task, but not with blockchain. Blockchain could verify this information instantly, providing security to purchasers at all levels and eliminating potential fraud.
Transparency is becoming a more valuable commodity to e-commerce companies as consumers start to pay attention to why prices are low and how companies treat their employees. Companies can verify their ethical behavior through blockchain.
E-commerce relies heavily on shipping to get products from warehouses to customers. Shipping items often involves a lot of paperwork to get the hottest new item to the doorstep of the purchaser. Blockchain can simplify this process.
Cargo and packages often have to wait for authorizations of receipt, damage reports, or verifications of authenticity. These processes can slow down shipping speeds and cost exorbitant amounts of money. Blockchain speeds up this process by making it easy to verify goods. Blockchain allows buyers to watch exactly what happens to their purchase as it trades hands from warehouses to shipping companies, to delivery drivers, and finally, their doorstep.
Blockchain is becoming a trusted source for increasing security of websites and transactions. Besides cryptocurrencies, blockchain is now being used for verifying transfers at traditional banks, verifying identities with biometrics, and keeping patient information safe in healthcare systems. Governments are using blockchain to keep records and sensitive data safe from nefarious groups.
Cybersecurity experts are finding ways to implement blockchain technology in vulnerable areas to increase security. E-commerce transactions are increasing dramatically, especially during the coronavirus epidemic, and keeping transactions safe benefits e-commerce companies and their customers.
The most obvious use for blockchain is payments. Cryptocurrencies are the most recognizable forms of blockchain technologies. Bitcoin, the most recognizable cryptocurrency, is accepted at major chains such as Subway and online retailers, including Overstock and Shopify. As the currencies become prevalent, more companies will begin accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Traditional banks are starting to accept the use of cryptocurrencies, and JP Morgan Chase is even developing its own. Facebook has even started to develop its own currency to use on Facebook’s Marketplace and for payments between users.
As our world becomes more reliant on the Internet, we need to increase the security of the transactions on the Internet. Blockchain technologies are providing e-commerce companies the ability to increase transparency, maintain security, and improve efficiencies. As with any technology, blockchain is rooted in coding languages. Learn the basics of coding languages at a coding bootcamp to bring blockchain technology to your e-commerce company.
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