Blockchain Goes Local (A Bit, Anyway)

Use cases are growing with blockchain, and while the headlines may focus on large-scale government initiatives and where distributed ledger technology (DLT) might be headed, the fact remains that smaller projects are gaining traction. Looking on a case-by-case basis, state initiatives (or local ones outside the U.S.) are showing some possibly novel ways that DLT may at least, according to its advocates help transform everyday activities.

The more that light is shed on these use cases, the more blockchain can move beyond the traditional confines of simply working in conjunction with cryptocurrencies.

Ballots Over Blockchain

News came out this week that a pilot program in West Virginia is eyeing the ballot box. The state, according to Mashable, has contracted with Massachusetts-based company Voatz to make ballots available for troops stationed overseas via mobile devices. That tech-driven voting option may debut as soon as this year in the midterm elections, and the activity that takes place over the app will be recorded on a blockchain. The site reports that, to use the app, those troops will have to submit photos showing documents and provide videos of themselves to ensure the person in the video matches the ID. Critics charge that the blockchain-based initiative will still be vulnerable to hacking.

At the state level, too, Ohio seems poised to embrace blockchain. Late last week, Governor John Kasich signed legislation that will boost blockchain efforts, stretching across the record-keeping in a number of verticals, such as supply chain management. The legislation may spur expansion of blockchain R&D efforts within the state, and the Dayton Daily News has said the state is notable, in part, for its Columbus-based “smart city” efforts.  Ohio is also the fifth-largest hub for the financial services industry, as counted at the state level.

Healthcare, At The Smallest (Genomic) Level

It doesn’t get much smaller (or more local) than the genomic level. Beyond the U.S., in South Korea, biotech firm Macrogen has said it is working to develop a genomic, Big Data blockchain platform that will aid in medical/healthcare data collection. It can also help with diagnostics and tailoring medical treatment, which is, of course, important to healthcare services and pharmaceutical firms. The platform is slated to debut in roughly a year.

Also in South Korea, and local in scale, the country’s Blockchain Enterprise Promotion Association said that local governments should regulate blockchain, with an eye on becoming leaders in what has been termed the “fourth industrial” revolution, and on where jobs may be created.

Blockchain … And Big Bucks

Add up enough of those small projects and it seems that the dollars add up, too. The Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide, which recently bowed from International Data Corporation (IDC), said that blockchain spending will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of as much as 77 percent through the year 2022. The tally is $1.5 billion for this year and could hit $11.7 billion four years from now. Of that amount, the U.S. will have about 36 percent of the pie and the financial sector will have the biggest slice at $552 million this year, followed by the distribution and services vertical at $379 million.

It’s no surprise that the financial services sector will see a tailwind from banks’ adoption of the technologies  with growth also coming from Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East  and the distribution will get a boost from retail and service firms, stated IDC in its report. In terms of growth rates, on a compounded basis, Japan and Canada will be ahead of the pack with 109 percent and 87 percent growth rates.