Blockchain is the Future of X (Insert Anything from Visa Applications to Real Estate)

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If you can’t think of a good headline for your blockchain article, there’s always this trusty formula: “Blockchain is the future of ______.” And you can fill in the blank with whatever the article’s about, whether it’s seafood supply chains or cannabis, as chances are your article is extolling blockchain technology and how it will transform some particular field.

But where is blockchain — basically an open, distributed ledger that has been likened to Google Docs — actually being implemented? Despite what it may seem like, blockchain isn’t all hype. Here is a roundup of real-life cases where blockchain is being implemented or under serious consideration, starting with the U.S. federal government.

General Services Administration

In July, the GSA hosted the first U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum to discuss the technology’s possible use cases and challenges. The idea was for federal employees across agencies who share an interest in blockchain to come together and brainstorm. Then earlier in early August, the agency set up an information portal on its website, listing areas where blockchain may be applied.

Procurement and supply chain management were of course on the list, which also included patents, federal assistance, and yes, visas, passports, social security numbers and birth certificates.

Real Estate in Ukraine

Ukraine’s housing market took a serious hit during the 2014–2015 political crisis. Although the economy has started to recover, housing prices are still 70% lower than their peak in 2008. Foreign investors have begun to show interest, and the Ukrainian government wants to make the process as smooth as possible.

Enter blockchain. Ukraine has partnered with blockchain-based real-estate marketplace Propy so that foreign investors can make property purchases entirely online, the Huffington Post reports. Decreased fraud risks aside, the blockchain infrastructure is also expected to make the registration process much faster.

The Shipping Sector

On Wednesday, Singapore-based port operator PSA International signed an agreement with IBM and Pacific International Lines to explore the application of blockchain in their regional supply chain networks. Back in March, IBM had signed a blockchain deal with Danish transport company Maersk to better manage shipping transactions.

According to IBM’s estimates, the shipping industry stands to save $38 billion a year by going digital. As they move across international borders, shipping companies currently undergo dozens of checks as they get a single shipment to market, so a single piece of misplaced paperwork can mean delays or wasted shipments.

RAC’s New Album

After going down a “YouTube rabbit hole,” as the Grammy-winning Portuguese DJ told Motherboard, he decided to make his newest album available for purchase on the ethereum blockchain. While other musicians have experimented with sales via blockchain before, this is the first time that an entire album can be purchased this way.

Chances are good that more artists will be doing the same. While a mass exodus from, say, Apple iTunes isn’t going to happen anytime soon, enthusiastic and technologically-savvy fans can support their favorite artists directly by using these cryptocurrencies, instead of having a portion of the royalties going to the middleman.

Illinois Medical Licenses

To conclude this round-up closer to Spend Matters’ home, the state of Illinois is planning to use blockchain to support a medical license registry and credential-sharing program, among other initiatives.

It started last November, when the state announced the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, a consortium of Illinois state and county agencies tasked with attracting blockchain businesses to the state and determining whether the technology can “transform the delivery of public and private services.” As CoinDesk reports, the consortium has recently partnered with blockchain start-up Hashed Health to apply the technology to the field of medical administration.

One may wonder how this same state needed two years to pass a budget, but the modern world is full of mysteries.

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