Blockchain Moving Beyond Finance; Still in Early Stages
As blockchain originated as the public ledger of transactions for Bitcoin, initial uses of the technology have been focused on banking and financial services applications. However, "We started to see increased developments in blockchain applications in the government sector, for example for notary services and land registries, and non-financial corporates such as supply chain management, energy and healthcare," Caes said. Indeed, the Moody's report notes that the State of Delaware has developed a blockchain with smart contracts to register companies, track their share price and manage communication with shareholders. Also, the U.S. Department of Defense is developing a blockchain based secure messaging service that separates the creation of a message from its transfer and reception. Other government–related uses include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is developing blockchains for the security of digital identity for Internet of things (IoT) devices, identity management, privacy protection and security analytics. The U.S Postal Service is assessing blockchain for supply chain management, identity services and device management. Overall, the Moody's report identified more than 120 ongoing blockchain projects—spanning investments and partnerships with start-ups, internal projects, and industry collaborations. And there are likely many others yet to reach the public domain, the report said.The Moody's report notes that Microsoft and IBM have developed open-source platforms that enable developers to create and test their blockchain applications. "This unique open-source approach will allow Microsoft and IBM to get many innovations developed on their platforms," the report said. "Several financial institutions and corporates are leveraging these platforms to build their own blockchain solutions. Additionally, both Microsoft and IBM are also actively participating in blockchain industry consortia, such as Microsoft in R3 and IBM in the Hyperledger Project.” Last month, Microsoft launched a new project to enable companies and governments to build blockchain applications on the Azure sandbox. IBM created an entirely new business unit to focus on blockchain. Also last month, IBM joined the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a Washington, D.C.-based digital asset and blockchain trade association, as an executive committee member. "It is critical from a national competitiveness point of view for U.S. companies and government agencies to lead the world in understanding the potential of blockchain and putting it to use,” said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of Blockchain Technologies at IBM, in a statement. Blockchain is clearly experiencing a rise in popularity as its potential is big. However, "Although market participants are mapping a large and growing landscape for blockchain applications, the tangible territory for fully implemented blockchain solutions beyond Bitcoin is limited and is likely to remain so for up to a decade or longer," the Moody's report said. "Only when blockchain applications solve real-world problems—providing user-friendly applications with a high level of stability and governance—will substantial ground be gained, paving the way for further investment and progress," added the report.
In addition to the use cases cited above, Moody's identified a series of other use cases including healthcare for managing records, media for digital rights, big data, cyber-security, data storage, IoT and voting, among other uses.