Blockchain generic use cases
You would surely like to have an scheme to help you to identify potential applications of blockchain technology in your company or institution. Based on the characteristics of the blockchain and its properties as a generic data store for all kinds of data, the following generic use cases can be established:
- Proof of Existence. This use of the blockchain focuses on storing data for the sole purpose of proving its existence. Hence, this use utilizes neither the ordering nor the time-stamping capabilities. Concrete applications are, for example, registries of unique items such as brand names, patents, license codes, and Internet or e-mail addresses.
- Proof of Nonexistence. This use is the opposite of the proof of existence. It provides ways to verify whether specific entries or items do not exist in the blockchain. It is useful to dismiss complaints, fines, or convictions.”
- Proof of Time. In this case is important not only the sheer existence of an entry in the blockchain but also the time when the entry was added. This technology can serve that need since the blocks store the time when the process of adding them took place. Applications that benefit from the time-stamping capabilities are those that track the occurrence of events in time such as tracking and delivery of goods or notification, payments, tracking of orderly opening and closing of public bidding procedures…
- Proof of Order. This usage utilizes the ordering capability of the blockchain. Applications that benefits from that property are those that track the relative ordering of events regardless of their absolute time, for example, escrow services, tracking of application processes (university and patent applications), auditing public bidding procedures or copyright claims.
- Proof of Identity. This can be considered a specific case of proof of existence because it proves that a certain identity already exists. The blockchain serves that use case since it not only stores data used to identify someone or something but also provides basic security concepts for identification and authentication. Concrete applications of this use pattern are digital identity documents for people, animals, or goods. Governments could utilize this technology for managing personal documents, drivers’ licenses, or passports.”
- Proof of Authorship. This use pattern focuses on proving that a specific person or institution added certain data to the blockchain. This technology can serve that purpose because it not only stores data that can be identified by its cryptographic fingerprint but also offers basic security concepts such as identification, authentication, and authorization. The first two are necessary to identify and verify authors. Authorization is necessary to prevent someone from adding data to the blockchain without having the right to do so. Applications that utilize this use pattern are, for example, the certification of academic degrees, electronic publishing, tracking of content changes in documents, content delivery or protecting copyrights.
- Proof of Ownership. This use focuses on managing and clarify ownership. It relies on all previously mentioned patterns such as proof of existence, proof of order, proof of identity, and proof of authorship together with the three basic security concepts: identification, authentication, and authorization. Applications that utilize this use pattern include systems for managing ownership of real estate or cars, company shares and bonds, or virtual currencies.”
Now you have the elements that allow you to analyze whether or not your business or institutional activities might benefit from one or several of the properties listed above. And what is even more critical to decide when to incorporate this technology: What would be the impact of not being among the first to apply it in your industry?