Mitchell Pham shares his perspective on the applications of Blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies:
Many Blockchain conversations seem to focus on crypto finance – the issuance of currency or tokens to raise capital for projects or businesses. Very quickly, these conversations move into listing the tokens on crypto exchanges, and then token value and trading volume, and so on, with seemingly little attention on the true problem-solving potential of both Blockchain technology and crypto tokens.
Blockchain can be applied to solve real-world problems with exponential impact – right up there alongside the Internet of Things, AI, robotics, 3D printing, drones, synthetic biology, and the like. Cryptocurrency is a very thin application of Blockchain, while raising capital is only one of many contributors and steps to solving a problem for business, industry, or society.
A real-world example domain where Blockchain can be applied is the online review and ratings industry.
With the explosion of the Internet, product and service reviews have become an important factor in building brand image and business reputation. However, there are significant challenges that impact consumer trust in review results and systems. According to a survey from Pew Research, nearly half of the United States’ surveyed population said they distrusted the results of online reviews.
A major challenge that contributes to loss of consumer trust, is the lack of evaluation mechanisms with standard criteria for each subject, that would make for relevant, insightful, fair and consistent reviews and ratings. Another issue is simply the lack of transparency in review systems, where reviewers and review results could be unduly influenced. A third challenge is review results data can easily be tampered with – and there have been some very public cases where this has happened.
In addition to the above challenges, review result sources are often fragmented in silos. This makes it difficult for consumers to find and compare evaluation results to help making purchasing decisions.
How can Blockchain be applied to overcome these challenges?
In this example, Smart Links Swiss (SLS) has been developing Lina.review – the first and only Blockchain platform for the online review and ratings industry. Their idea is to apply Blockchain technology to address standard criteria, transparency and immutability of the score, build trust and reputation, as well as develop mechanisms to help users and experts benefit from system development and the quality of their reviews via tokenisation – all implemented via smart contract.
The review workflow and ecosystem is tokenised with a utility token (LINA) designed to support activities and value exchange between participants of the review ecosystem. These include Merchants, Advertisers, Helpers (expert reviewers), Common Users (consumers) and System Builders (developers). All transactions are completely recorded on the Blockchain and visible to the public.
The LINA crypto token is based on Ethereum, a decentralized Blockchain platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference to facilitate online contractual agreements in a cryptographically secure manner. Due to the relative limitations in processing cost and speed of Ethereum, SLS developed its own double-Blockchain platform, where token transactions sit on the public Ethereum chain while the real-time and high-volume review activities and data reside on the fast, custom-built private chain, with a synchronisation ‘bridge’ in between.
The overall result is a technology platform that supports a range of use-case situations, including:
- Building the generic review system for varied use
- Building a specific review system for a specific industry subject matter
- Building a review system within a business organisation for specific products/services
- Building personal review systems around individuals’ needs
Surrounding the development of the technology platform is the parallel development of an ecosystem with communities and networks of participants across the industry. Taking an open and collaborative approach, SLS is making Lina.review available for ecommerce and other types of online platforms – especially those with large communities of users, members or customers – to connect and gain access to its functionalities and capabilities through an API connector.
The current Lina.review MVP (minimum viable product) is being developed into a full-featured platform, with the next release targeted for late in the year. In the meantime, the LINA token is now listed on Cryptopia – a global crypto exchange based out of New Zealand – with several other well-known exchanges in-progress. In parallel to all this, the underlying double-Blockchain technology foundation is currently being leveraged to build solutions in other areas, such as agricultural and pharmaceutical supply chains; also, healthcare and insurance.
What does this all mean?
There is much more to Blockchain technology than just cryptocurrency and raising capital to finance projects and businesses. This exponential technology can indeed solve real-world problems, and it can be scaled with the right architecture. So the next time you have the opportunity to evaluate an ‘ICO’, have a close look at how the whole technology solution is designed to solve problem, how that solution will be delivered to the world, and the business and community that will be built around it.
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