Blockchain – the underlying technology of bitcoin and alt-coins, is a fascinating alternative to fiat currency. Love it or hate it, the technology has many takers. It is revolutionary in nature and you never know what surprises it may unfold in the future!
Even small businesses are affected by the cryptocurrency and blockchain boom. Want to know how?
These 8 pointers will explain how the technology can turn the tide for small businesses.
- Improve Shipping
Marine Transport International estimates that blockchain could save $300 per container. When it comes to labor and processing associated documents. A large container ship with up to 18,000 containers can save as much as $5.4 m. That’s a lot of money that your small business can save!
The good news here is a firm called ShipChain, which is already disrupting the way shipping takes place by using blockchain technology. It works by tracking each movement of the shipment right from dispatch to arrival. Because the blockchain process is transparent and does away with the need for tracking products on access points, it’s easy to track any shipment between all the carriers, across the complete supply chain.
In addition to this, the future of using shipping in blockchain looks steady with IBM and Maersk gearing up to form a new firm that can alter the course of shipping supply chain. Go figure!
- Use Smart Contracts
Smart contracts have remained a buzzword in the blockchain world post the Ethereum Project in 2013.
Basically, it works as a decentralized platform for “self-automated computer applications that run smoothly as programmed.” There is no possibility of any fraud, third-party interference or downtime.
Small business can easily use smart contracts to lower the cost of their financial transactions. By using blockchain to create smart contracts between users, they can economically streamline their business flows. All the processes including employee payroll, invoicing and any other financial activity that needs transactions can be handled easily by using this technology.
- Make Employee Payments
Small businesses can use cryptocurrency and blockchain to pay their employees. This can be a cost-saving move, as it will no longer mandate the fees, which is usually required to transfer the monies internationally. It also cuts down on the time that is otherwise spent by funds from moving banks to banks.
All in all, payments by bitcoins and alt-coins can be a win-win situation for small businesses who won’t have to handle the hefty amount and their employees, who won’t have to wait for long to get their pay. However, one needs to keep the volatility in mind but as per SEC hearing on 6th February 2018, the future of bitcoin and cryptocurrency looks bright.
That should solve many problems!
- Protect Copyright
Apart from dealing with currencies and financial transactions, blockchain also finds several innovative applications. For instance, you can also use it to register and protect copyrights.
As a small business, this is a crucial step because you don’t have to pay a single penny for it!
Binded for instance, is an application that can help you register and protect images by providing a permanent timestamp. This is how you can stop others, especially your competitors from using images without your consent.
There’s surely more hope in this area with the rapid evolution of blockchain.
- Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is another unique application for small businesses.
The distributed cloud storage will consist of peer-to-peer decentralized cloud storage solution, which can effectively protect all the files using blockchain and cryptography.
The advantages of using blockchain in cloud storage are many. For starters, the stored data will become tamper-proof by storing hashes of data blocks. These encrypted and distributed hashes verify the data blocks.
Blockchain also offers a decentralized transaction ledger, which boosts the verifiability. The best part is that there will be no middlemen and hence, the system will not succumb to attacks.
A name to reckon with blockchain and cloud storage is Storj. Defined as a “blockchain-based, end-to-end encrypted, distributed object storage,” it offers businesses exclusive access to their data. The highlight of the technology includes end-to-end encryption, incredible speed, and higher availability. Moreover, there’s no setup fees or minimum usage, which hints at cost-effectiveness.
What more could you possibly want?
- Review Credentials of New Employees/Customers
Who would’ve thought in their wildest dreams that cryptocurrency technology can help in the hiring process!
One of the basic non-monetary uses of blockchain is identity verification.
It was already put in practice by The University of Melbourne. It used a system known as Blockcerts developed by Leaning Machine, a US-based firm. This technology made it possible for them to review the credentials far more easily. Because of the added security level blockchain technology brings to the table, it would be impossible for people to alter their existing credentials. This is what helps assess talented individuals while hiring them.
Along the same lines, small businesses can verify their customers’ and employees’ identify. This, in turn, would help them keep their data secure and from falling into the wrong hands. After all, no one would want hackers to get access to sensitive company information!
- Gift Customers’ Loyalty
More often than not, businesses thrive on reward points and gift cards, presented to their loyal customers. Blockchain technology plays a role in this as well.
A case in point is that of a firm named GyftBlock, which has designed an application to store gift cards on a mobile device. It eliminates the need for printing and distributing gift cards as well as giving the customers a secure access to the cards. With this, only the recipient of the card will be able to use it. All this happens in the blink of an eye as the process includes scanning the merchant’s QR code during purchase using the app. The card is instantly debited and the balance updated.
“Timestamp” is one of the most crucial features of blockchain technology. Because the entire network validates the data at a certain point in time, it can be used to prove something in a court of law. This is how blockchain can work as a decentralized notary.
Imagine all the paperwork and cost that will be reduced when small businesses adopt this feature to certify their important documents!
Blockchain brings to the table some impressive benefits for small businesses. It not only helps you improve the core business processes but also paves the way for wide-ranging applications in the near future. While most of these applications are yet to evolve fully, their use is astonishing and futuristic. It’s safe to say that these will be transforming how the small business world function!
Learn more about blockchain and cryptocurrency’s use in small business by keeping a tab on this space!