Is Blockchain technology suitable for any type of business? What are the recommendations for entrepreneurs who want to know more about the “chain of blocks”? As there are many false myths and confusions around the subject, we directly interviewed a Blockchain expert, Rafael Barriuso, CTO and co-founder of Tribalyte Technologies to help us deepen it.
Rafael, if you had to define Blockchain in a few words, what would they be?
The term “Blockchain” or “blockchain”, as it would be in Spanish, in the collective imagination it always goes hand in hand when we talk about bitcoin, crypto-currencies and fintech but Blockchain means much more than that and, above all, nowadays can be used in almost all industries.
Very in summary, it is a technology that allows different actors, potentially unknown, to interact without the need for an individual mediator to ensure trust or security, but through what are called smart contracts or smart contracts. This is due to the fact technology ensures trust between parties (no one can “cheat”) by storing all the information in one decentralized, shared and linked in the form of secure and traceable “blocks” of data.
But then, are DLT or Blockchain two totally different technologies?
This is a very common misconception. Technologies DLT (“Distributed Ledger Technology”) Where “Distributed Ledger Technology” are systems based on what looks like a database that stores information in a decentralized mannerbecause the data is replicated in different places and can be distributed both privately and publicly.
On the other hand, Blockchain technology is itself a type of DLT but it provides additional features that give it more security and immutability. A fundamental difference is the way the database we are talking about is implemented.
Although DLT systems are generally considered to be decentralized networks, since their operation does not depend on an administrator who approves the transmission of information, it requires a cipher that establishes the rules on which its operation and the structure of the network will be based. In exchange, The blockchain does not need any specific entity to define the rulesOn the contrary, all the members of the network have the same degree of knowledge of the network. In terms of security, all of this makes it virtually impossible for someone to enter false information into the chain.
Other than banking, cryptocurrency, and fintech, what other sectors can Blockchain use?
Much more. It is true that the blockchain has gained a lot of popularity and importance due to its use in the world of transactions through the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. But, thanks to its enormous advantages, nowadays more and more sectors are integrating and experimenting with blockchain: logistics, advocacy, medicine, education, energy, food, supply chains and pharmaceuticals, among others.
A very current practical case would be the latter, the pharmaceutical. The distribution of vaccines against COVID-19, as we can already see, is and will remain a very delicate operation and above all very vulnerable if security and transparency measures are not adopted. Blockchain technology can ensure, and already does, that the entire vaccine delivery journey and channels are safe and that scams and crimes are avoided.
A well-known brand or company that already uses blockchain?
For example Mercadona, una marca que en España todo el mundo conoce y que, retomando el tema anterior, nos ayuda a actualizar y “modernizar” un poco the idea of Blockchain, que es muy común en el imaginario colectivo como algo muy lejano del mundo “corriente” , therefore, to say. Completely the opposite. Nail chain of supermarkets or hotels, a pharmaceutical company, a financial company, a Spanish SME, the public administration… all of these entities can implement Blockchain protocols in their operations.
Another very topical issue with Blockchain is digital identity, right?
It’s correct. Here, too, there are a lot of confusions and myths that are important to clear up. The concept of digital identity – the exact term would be “Sovereign digital identity” English, Sovereign Identity – refers to the idea of be able to control and manage by himself all the data forming part of the identity of each individual. Each person will be able to decide who and what others know about them. To do this, multiple solutions are being developed, usually with blockchain technologies, in various parts of the world. Almost all are based on propositions in which personal data is encrypted on smartphones and from these, thanks to an application, the user can control the access to his data and the transactions carried out with him.
Within the framework of Alastria, the first national association promoting the use of Blockchainourselves in Tribal technologies, we actively contribute to the development of Alastria ID. It is a blockchain-supported sovereign digital identity standard that uses smart contracts to enable the tracing of data transactions. off-chain in a secure and anonymous manner for agents external to the transaction.
It is important that digital identity is not associated with an idea of omnipotent artificial intelligence that will rule us all. Completely the opposite. It is a very useful system which is developed precisely for protect our data from centralization.
Another very important point that is not talked about much is the use of the Blockchain for the development of applications.
For sure. Coming back to what we were saying about the collective imagination, Blockchain is usually associated with an abstract idea of futuristic technology. However, all kinds of applications (web, mobile and computer) can be decentralized and, therefore, work on the blockchain. This type of application is called DApp (“Decentralized application”), i.e. a decentralized application.
In a DApp, each user performs their operations (transactions) through the nodes of the network, the result being reflected in the chain. In this way, all the operations carried out there will go through the Smart Contracts used by the DApp. A case study for readers working in the software world, for example, could be BrightByte, a DApp that helps development teams improve their processes and the quality of their products, by encouraging the practice of source code cross-checking.
you named “smart contract”. What exactly?
The smart contract or smart contract in Spanish, it is the main tool of Blockchain technology and its greatest utility. It is immutable agreement stored and executed on the blockchain. This contract is “signed” between different participants but, and most importantly, the network ensures a consensus in the execution of the contract and each participant can access the data stored in the contract. Likewise, there may be participants who only know certain “blocks” of the information chain and others who will access all the data. Whoever uses the contract will inevitably follow the rules it implements and the operations each of them can perform and what part of the information they will know in detail.
Very briefly, when we talk about Blockchain we are referring precisely to this type of information storage in blocks, portions. Besides, already only attempting to change the information in one block would therefore affect the rest of the chain. This is why this very secure structure makes the blockchain a reliable solution that prevents the alteration of your data.
So Blockchain is no longer just for the privileged few, is it?
Here is. Exactly, and that’s kind of the main message I would like to share with your readers. Practically any type of sector I can and I dare to say you should at least consult an expert to find out if and how the use of Blockchain technologies could improve your business processes, as well as their security and transparency. Today, we hear a lot about the rationalization of business management. This is undoubtedly a fundamental factor for the digital transformation of businesses, and tools such as CRM can, of course, cover many of these needs. But keep in mind that As we move forward in the digitalization of businesses, at the same time the risks of generating security breaches increase for the last one. Speaking of digitization, for example in the industrial sector the concept of Industry 4.0 is very current, which aligns with the philosophy of Tribalyte in the sense of meeting the specific needs of each company with digital technology. Each company is a world apart and adopting suitable technological solutions is increasingly important and necessary.
It is also true that, compared to the past, most entrepreneurs today tend to learn a lot more about topics such as digital security and technological solutions. With this, medium-term expectations are very positive and, without a doubt, more and more companies will realize what is at stake.
In conclusion, if you had to sum up in a few words why businesses should adopt Blockchain technologies, what would they be?
I would say: security, transparency, decentralization, traceability, versatility and to top it all, confidence. In times of pandemic and global economic crisis, Blockchain will be one of the vectors of economic recovery and the adaptation of businesses to the new normal, so now is the best time to do your research, get informed and, of course, consult an expert in the field.