This article explores the technologies that will likely change the world with a focus on blockchain technology. The concept of blockchain will be summarized and its application in various sectors examined in detail. Also, the challenges facing this technology will be addressed to gauge its potential in changing the world given the prevailing circumstances. A discussion section will present crucial reasons the technology has the potential to cause the revolution. This technology was initially designed to solve payment challenges, and cryptocurrency emerged as a result. The paper argues that although Blockchain technology was built around currencies, its implications in all aspects of human life are significantly felt. Blockchain can change the world by eliminating the limitations of centralized systems that are characterized by manual controls.
Some people may argue that blockchain alone cannot significantly change the way people and institutions interact to replace centralized systems with decentralized ones due to imminent limitations of resources and resistance to change. However, this study predicts blockchain can change the world mainly from its strengths of decentralization that makes it effective, secure, transparent, and incorruptible in the era that technology is continuously embraced across the globe. According to Pilkington (2016), blockchain technology introduced a new era that was not limited to global financial transactions, social, economic, or political boundaries due to its unique principles. Primarily, this technology is built on the peer-to-peer network concept of cryptography, immutability, and consensus.
Cryptography focuses on crucial information protection as data is stored in a database or shared among various parties in a communication process. As such, the risks of data privacy breaches are eliminated as well as double-spend challenges by using special keys to agents. Decentralization is enabled by using these digital tokens that do not require a centralized system to validate or authorize. Public and private tokens must correspond without any manual interference for a transaction to be complete. It becomes challenging for the system to be manipulated or exploited by anyone. Therefore, the institutions embracing this technology are more efficient, secure, and can detect fraud easily.
Blockchain Application and Significance
This section will explore the social, economic, and political applications of blockchain technology to illustrate how it can change the status quo. Ideally, the implications of its application demonstrate what the technology has achieved and what it can achieve in the future.
Role Of Blockchain Government and Social Services
Blockchain can lead a revolution in how the citizens access social services from their governments which include business registration, land registration, education, and healthcare. Tapscott and Tapscott (2016) illustrated how this revolution could be achieved regarding Estonia. Automation of government services with a decentralized approach has led the Estonia government to be a digital government serving its citizens effectively and securely. The mass adoption of internet technologies by both governments and citizens creates a conducive environment for technologies such as blockchain to be implemented with ease. For instance, the government has an e-land registry that enables landowners to acquire legal land rights by registration without fraud. Land transfers are taking a shorter period to effect, which explains the booming real estate business in the country. Investors have the confidence they require to commit funds for investments because there are transparency and efficiency in such transactions. Equally, entrepreneurs can register businesses, get permits and pay taxes using this secure technology.
Estonians can also monitor their children’s progress in school by using e-school technology built on decentralization principles. Teachers, learners, and parents can collaborate using this technology, thereby improving education standards in the country. Similarly, government education officials can track the progress of education programs and improve service delivery to citizens. Blockchain can thus, revolutionize government operations for the social benefits of its citizens, as in the case of Estonia. Particularly, the use of keyless digital tokens and digital identity cards that are compatible with blockchain has allowed the citizens of this country to conduct business conveniently and travel within the region without challenges.
Like Estonians who can access vital government services and information online, many other citizens can demand the same from their governments (Geneiatakis et al., 2020). Social evils such as corruption are widely curbed by using decentralized e-government processes. This study finds this trend applicable in several other countries in the future because people expect better and transparent services from governments. There is also growing infrastructure support in terms of hardware, software, and human capacity to implement such programs in the majority of countries. This technology is likely to be applied even by less developed countries, especially if the developed ones can adopt it and set excellent benchmarks.
Role Of Blockchain In Healthcare
Typically, when a patient visits a healthcare facility, they are served by different professionals at some point. Sometimes, they are referred from one professional to another or even a facility. Due to centralization challenges, data may be unavailable when required or may be altered. As such, patients may waste significant amounts of time tracing records from one facility to the other or from their personal records that may span several years. Specialists have a difficult time accessing patients’ health history because the data is not readily available. Such challenges lead to inefficiencies, poor services, and errors in diagnosis and treatment. However, decentralized blockchain technology when used in hospitals can solve these challenges easily. Patients can authorize access to such information. Similarly, practitioners can accurately diagnose and treat patients using this technology since they can only use the right procedures with no room for wrong or counterfeit drugs prescription.
From the observations of Geneiatakis et al. (2020) and that of Tapscott and Tapscott (2016), it can be concluded that as people become more aware of their rights, they will likely demand better healthcare services from governments. If the governments do not provide such efficient and transparent services, the thriving section of private healthcare providers will probably take the initiative and provide them to the citizens. More patients will be attracted to those facilities forcing the competitors and governments to respond by adopting the technology. Again, healthcare providers might consider this technology more because it reduces the chances of fraud in their facilities. Ideally, other players such as insurance companies may only cover patients in hospitals that have installed this technology to curb insurance fraud related to healthcare. Due to the benefits of using blockchain technology to patients, healthcare facilities, insurers, and governments, this trend may be embraced more, and the changes will be inevitable.
Role Of Blockchain In Elections and Democracy
As the world is connected more via the internet and other technologies enabling people to collaborate remotely, data integrity is becoming a major concern for many stakeholders. Equally, people want transparency in businesses and government programs. Constitutional rights such as voting and equal treatment are significantly hampered by the current state of affairs in a highly centralized society. For instance, data leakages, data loss, and other security challenges of storing and disseminating information in a centralized system can significantly affect the outcome of an election. Blockchain technology can provide an effective and credible voting system for people to exercise their democratic rights without disputes (Johnson, 2019). Blockchain can eliminate fraud cases in elections, such as instances of illegible people voting or double voting because a chain of voters is formed when one voter acquires a unique token and a third party validates the chain. So far, several firms are working on providing a sustainable open-source voting system that is likely to be the future voting.
Using blockchain in elections will most likely boost voter turnout, inclusion, and credibility while reducing the cost of running elections. Adopting this technology fully means people can vote from different locations conveniently without traveling to polling stations. Voters who have busy schedules can participate in elections because the technology is friendly in terms of accepting voters as long as they do not try to vote twice. More so, almost all society segments can participate in such a democratic exercise because they can access and use it from various locations. Voters from the diaspora can also participate in elections in their home country if blockchain-based voting systems are adopted. Running credible elections is costly under the current centralized system that is widely used. However, decentralized or blockchain-based systems are cheaper since the personnel is reduced, paperwork eliminated, and other logistics cut significantly.
Simultaneously, the results are timely and accurate, making it ideal for countries striving to attain real democracy in elections. Since disputed elections are a major source of conflict globally, this technology has a high chance of being adopted to solve those crises. With major democracies such as the USA leading this path, the world is likely to adopt the technology by observing the successes achieved in elections.
Role Of Blockchain Financial Services and Economy
Blockchain technology has the potential to improve transaction efficiency and transparency, unlike centralized transactions. Decentralization in business means more speed, accuracy, and fewer chances of fraud in business (Treleaven, Brown & Yang, 2017). Consumers are becoming more aware of their needs and rights, which are expected to rise as the world becomes more interconnected. Blockchain provides a solution to globalized financial transactions by eliminating barriers that hinder the free flow of funds. As the world embrace e-commerce and other online transactions, consumers are becoming more concerned about their sensitive financial data obtained by entities they interact with while doing business.
As a result, clients might be comfortable transacting with organizations that offer secure payment systems such as those based on this technology. This trend might cause a major shift in the way finances are transferred from one location to the other. At the same time, the customer could demand systems that are easy to use to ensure there is ease of payment while observing data integrity. Intermediaries that access clients’ information will likely be eliminated in the value chain, creating more trust and fewer costs.
Financial institutions incur significant costs by dealing with ineffective intermediaries who also increase products’ costs for the final consumers. Blockchain technology can reduce these costs because clients authenticate their transactions without involving intermediaries. The removal of opaque transactions and unscrupulous business entities could fuel more consumers to demand cheaper and secure products that can only be achieved by firms using blockchain-based systems. A massive shift into this technology is likely to be witnessed as a response to the consumer needs in the industry.
Cryptocurrency is widely used as a digital currency that is a store of value. In essence, investors seeking stable and reliable alternatives to standard centralized banking and currency systems might turn to blockchain technology to achieve their goals. Investors can save, purchase property, invest in short-term and long-term securities without involving conventional banking systems. For instance, people can use cryptocurrencies to lend and settle financial debts from their convenient places. Major trading, listing, clearing, and exchange firms are adopting core technologies such as blockchain that are aimed at tapping into this potential (Pilkington, 2016). For instance, NASDAQ targets building new cryptocurrency markets by utilizing core trading technology provided by Noble Markets in a partnership that was signed in 2015. Other firms operating in the financial services industry are following this trend to gain from this new frontier.
The supply chain will also be likely to be shaped differently by the application of Blockchain technology. The technology can change the industry by automating, integrating, and securing the transactions to build trust among the players (Saberi, Kouhizadeh, Sarkis & Shen, 2019). In the era of globalized and distributed supply of products, transparency is critical in building sustainable relationships that support businesses relying on such partnerships. Globalization has revolutionized how businesses interact with clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders by providing connectivity. However, with centralized supply chain systems, there are opaque transactions that prevent sustainable relationships from thriving. The current linear supply chain does not provide information about the origin of the products or the consumer needs. Traceability becomes a major challenge in case of counterfeits, quality, or other issues that may necessitate tracing the suppliers easily.
Challenges of Blockchain Technology
The anticipated revolution from the blockchain faces severe challenges that could delay its implementation in the major sectors. They include unpreparedness by the current social-economic environments, strong resistance to change, legal and regulatory challenges, risks of losses from cybercrime incidences, and leading to joblessness. The said challenges are, however, not unique to this technology since similar problems were observed with the introduction of other related technologies. Overcoming these and other related challenges could see the world change faster than the current pace. This paper assumes the challenges will be effectively tackled in the near future to create a thriving environment for blockchain to bring the operational revolution in all the major sectors discussed here.
Blockchain technology is not yet fully embraced partly because it is ahead of time. The majority of people do not understand how it operates, its risks, and its opportunities. Others who know its potential are still skeptical of adopting it since they are majorly concerned about the ever-increasing cybercrimes associated with such technologies. With the rise of scams such as pyramid schemes that have for years defrauded investors, many people may associate cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin with scams (Tapscott & Tapscott, 2016). However, it can be argued that with time, more people are accepting this technology, and businesses are endorsing its usage are increasing significantly. Such trends could be ushering in a new generation of blockchain, but they could only be fully embraced when the crisis occurs. The existing infrastructure in social, economic, and political space in vast parts of the world is simply not ready for the technology now, but the time will likely come in a few decades.
Society Resistance to Change
While the technology may be ahead of time for many parts that are not yet prepared for such a revolution, others simply resist the changes coming with this technology. For instance, some experts argue cryptocurrencies are unattainable in the future, citing long-term liquidity concerns. Such concerns arise from the fact that currencies such as bitcoin are finite in quantity. The regulation of these currencies is made by changing the value instead of supply, making it questionable. These currencies are viewed by many experts as an asset instead of a medium of exchange. Some powerful organizations that do not want the change to be effected could lead these resistance moves because they benefit from the market inefficiencies.
Equally, the resistance is occasioned by instances of frauds where investors have lost a significant amount of assets in schemes operated using this technology. There are fears of job losses that come with automation in the labor market. While such concerns may pose valid illicit concerns, other quotas of the society may be resisting the technology for fear of the unknown without a definite reason. Today, society does not fully resonate with the technology, but as it starts becoming aware and benefit from its application, it might embrace it for good.
Regulation and legislation
Blockchain-based systems are challenging to regulate because of their decentralized and anonymous nature. This nature makes legal experts and regulators remain susceptible to this technology (Yeung, 2019). Consequently, heavy regulations around the technology with little knowledge of it could jeopardize the efforts of those advancing it. Punitive laws and policies governing cryptocurrencies are likely to rise because of the technology ignorance among legislators and regulators. Innovations based on blockchain in various sectors could slow down if the laws introduced do not support it. Some countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, illustrating the challenges of this technology to revolutionize the global stage. However, in some countries like China, mining professionals are supported by the government. If such jurisdictions decided to ban or stop supporting such activities, blockchain would suffer a big blow.
Blockchain technology is not completely protected from fraud and cyberattacks. Cybercriminals target exploiting vulnerabilities in systems to steal data or finances from organizations after a careful evaluation. According to crime opportunity theory, criminals rationally choose which systems to attack so that they can use minimal effort but get maximum value. Code exploitation is one method that is used by cyber attackers targeting blockchain technology (Sayeed, Marco-Gisbert, & Caira, 2020). Some organizations, such as Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), have lost millions of dollars to scammers using this technique. Incidentally, such issues erode investor confidence in investment vehicles that blockchain-based. Other methods used by cyber-attackers include stolen keys, hacking, phishing, routing attacks, and Sybil attacks.
Loss of Jobs
Blockchain technology is eventually a job killer because it disrupts the labor market, although out may create a few other jobs (Tapscott & Tapscott, 2016). Some proponents of this technology adoption across all sectors may argue that automation comes with refining jobs and skills for workers in all sectors. In essence, this is not a unique advantage to blockchain technology. Similar issues were witnessed with the internet and other computing technologies introduction, but the world eventually embraced them. Similarly, new jobs were created, and the change had more pros than cons. For instance, more entrepreneurs could raise investment funds, create new relationships, and provide others jobs.
The Future for Blockchain Technology
Tapscott and Tapscott (2016) argued the blockchain technology has a solution to the world’s severe challenges because it can increase integrity, check power, deliver value, and improve security and human rights preservation. As people continue to access the latest technology, they will likely expect better services are forcing stakeholders to abandon systems that limit delivery of these expectations. It is difficult to predict when the world will fully embrace the blockchain in all the major sectors for a significant change to be felt globally but judging by the rate at which it has grown, the change is fast coming. Integrity among elected leaders continues to be a significant concern that most citizens demand to gain trust with public institutions. Geneiatakis et al. (2020) observed one of the major contributors to changes might come from governments leading the way, especially in delivering services. Higher demands of electorates to get credible democratic outcomes such as elections can spur the changes much faster. Blockchain is arguably capable of providing radical transformation by offering much-needed transparency in public transactions.
A significant number of people worldwide are concerned about the value of their social-economic assets such as investments and votes. For instance, Johnson (2019) argued that voters expect to get value by participating in elections. However, various stakeholders continue to express dissatisfaction with the value they get from governments because incentives are not aligned, and accountability is not guaranteed. In this regard, government operations continue to be more expensive while efficiency does not improve (Treleaven, Brown & Yang, 2017). Primarily, the masses may force the governments to adopt alternative approaches to deliver cheaper products to citizenly. One major solution to this challenge is found in the adoption of blockchain technology. Bureaucracies in government operations and corrupt deals may fuel resentment of such institutions and subsequent adoption of technologies that solve the problem and restore order for people to get value for their votes. Equally, businesses can deliver better returns and value for their clients’ investments by using this technology.
Cryptocurrency such as bitcoin is gaining popularity in the recent past. Its value has grown steadily, instilling confidence in investors. Other cryptocurrencies have also emerged with no severe risks of their use reported further increasing confidence in such transactions. This trend is likely to gain more momentum in the future, thereby causing a major shift of currency because people perceive it as more secure and less volatile (Pilkington, 2016). Some counties are grappling with highly volatile currencies, and their citizens could experience runaway inflation which in turn could discourage their use. Instead, such countries may opt for many stable currencies, and cryptocurrency is the most likely choice since it doesn’t belong to any government, meaning it cannot be manipulated. Also, since it is difficult for fraudsters to steal like fiat currency, the world may embrace cryptocurrency in a few years to come as the universal currency. However, the resistance of central banks to acknowledge these currencies may slow down their uptake and increase the time that the major shift could be witnessed.
Globalization and technology changes continue to shape the interactions of corporations, governments, and individuals massively. These changes cannot be ignored if the world wants to move in the direction of collaboration, efficiency, and transparency. In the above review, supply chain, e-commerce, finance, marketing, and other critical business functions might be forced to adopt technologies such as blockchain to remain competitive (Saberi et al., 2019). Despite the challenges of resistance to adopting blockchain technology, globalization is a powerful means of connecting people worldwide, influencing this technology. Some other technologies such as the growth of smart connections, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, among others, could help the blockchain to thrive. Such growth might be necessitated by the desire to improve them or seek alternatives. This paper asserts that the growth of related technologies is a key driver of the blockchain’s acceptance. Consequently, its full potential is likely to be achieved as the world continues to embrace other technologies. However, a crisis might have to occur for society to give room to blockchain to correct the problems.
Conclusively, it is evident that blockchain technology is revolutionary technology-focused in inducing a dramatic change in the modern world. The world is likely to experience massive changes in various sectors which is imperative in boosting security, economic prowess, and making the world a better place. While blockchain technology is capable of changing the world, it can be observed that change in the human mindset is essential in complementing the changes that can be brought by technology. The challenges hindering the achievement of global operations status quo alteration are immense. The real change is likely to come from governments accepting the power of blockchain and embracing it instead of suppressing it by structuring stringent measures focused on de-popularizing blockchain. The time for the real change could be far due to major players resisting the change, but when they accept it, a major shift of social, economic, and political dynamics will be observed. Such changes will reduce evils like corruption, election rigging, healthcare fraud, adverse data security issues, among other pressing challenges witnessed globally. The bottom line is, the world will change for the better, even with the challenges that may come with blockchain, because it has more advantages than disadvantages.