While cryptocurrencies, and more recently Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), have been grabbing all the limelight, blockchain has been diligently fulfilling its potential, finding practical solutions to industry problems. While still a relatively new technology, blockchain has immense potential to solve issues (even ones a business doesn’t yet realise they have) and drive innovation for businesses of all sizes in any industry. These benefits will be felt more keenly, for longer, than the hype that overshadows it, writes Lachlan Feeney, Founder and CEO of Labrys.
But what is blockchain, and how can it improve your business?
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger used to store data and record transactions. Historically financial transactions but today of almost anything digitally: contracts, data sets, public records. Data is stored in connected blocks which cannot be altered or changed. The information stored on this ‘chain’ is verifiable, validated and unforgeable, which is why it’s been so prominent in payments innovation over recent years.
Beyond payments, the technology already has numerous benefits including security, transparency and productivity; all crucial for businesses in any industry. Use cases are increasing rapidly and policymakers and industry leaders are putting their faith in the tech. As momentum increases and blockchain continues to create tangible new innovations, there are more everyday solutions to improve business performance.
Four ways it can improve your business
Faster, cheaper payments
In its most common form, blockchain facilitates peer-to-peer payments without the need for a third party, like a bank. Therefore, through blockchain, there are much lower transaction fees, as you do away with the middlemen and pay a small fee to the network instead, which reduces costs for both business and consumer alike. Today, consumers crave flexible payment options, and blockchain is the latest way to cater to their needs. If you have a digitally-savvy team, you can also pay your staff through blockchain technology too. The ability to accept and make payments is at the core of every business, and via blockchain businesses now have the ability to do so almost instantaneously. These benefits are particularly pronounced if you have customers or staff outside Australia as blockchain eliminates international transaction fees and processing times.
A smart contract is an automated contract, accessible to all parties through a decentralised blockchain. It automates the execution of an agreement so that every party can be certain of an outcome or next step, without the need for an intermediary. By automating a project, smart contracts activate the next step when a particular condition is met. They are especially beneficial if your business engages in large and complex projects or if you’re working with new partners or parties. Transparency is an obvious benefit, but so too is convenience, protection and peace of mind. Through a smart contract, when your element of a project is completed, you are paid automatically. What’s more, if another party doesn’t deliver on their commitment, you can reclaim your goods or services without the need for long, protracted legal disputes.
Today, digital marketing allows businesses to deploy targeted campaigns whoever their core customer is. Through blockchain, business marketing can become even more targeted and effective. Blockchain can gather customer data, create and store individual consumer profiles that allow for far more targeted campaigns. Through blockchain, there are no intermediaries – like Google – between your business and your customers. By eliminating that you can spend less, but still spend strategically. What’s more, blockchain allows you to verify that the traffic you attract is from real people, not fake accounts or click farms, which keeps your costs low and engagement high.
Transparent business practices
Consumers today are becoming far more conscientious and considered when choosing the businesses and brands they interact with. They want to know where a business’ materials are sourced, that labour and supply chains are honest and fair, and that the business doesn’t engage in unscrupulous behaviour. If your business relies on building trust to stand out, blockchain provides this through its inherent transparency. Through the decentralised, incorruptible nature of blockchain, your customers can view the data and be certain that whether you’re selling sustainable fashion, renewable energy or a not-for-profit distributing donations, that you’re doing as you’re saying.
While blockchain may sound like a technology of the future, or the privilege of only large corporations, it’s quickly becoming more accessible to many businesses. Today, as competition increases and business challenges intensify, identifying opportunities to innovate and evolve is essential. As blockchain technology continues to step out from the shadow of cryptocurrency and deliver on its immense potential, why not consider how that potential could be extended to your business?
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