Winding Tree: Displacing Online Booking Hubs
Major travel service aggregators like Expedia and Priceline dominate airfare bookings. But this comes at a serious cost to both travelers and airlines. Booking through these websites often includes hefty fees and surcharges made possible by their largely unchallenged status as gatekeepers. Blockchain-based startup Winding Tree works to unseat these entrenched giants by challenging their role as industry middlemen.
Winding Tree is a private company based in Switzerland. Founded in 2017, it reaches numerous parts of the travel and tourism industry, including hotels and airfare. The company uses “blockchain technology to enable a fair and competitive travel distribution market.”
The company seeks to connect travelers directly with service providers like airlines, hotels, and tour guides with its LÍF token. The aim is to minimize fees for travelers while reducing costs for service providers. LÍF is Winding Tree’s platform cryptocurrency.
The companys clever use of smart contracts and the ERC827 protocol delivers better savings for every stakeholder in the travel and tourism industry. Winding Tree’s nonprofit status assures there are no middlemen adding unnecessary fees to the booking process.
Industrial And Commercial Bank Of China
The giant $165 billion/year Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is leading the list. With $4.2 trillion in assets, this state-run bank had previously denied working with blockchain stock exchange, Tzero. However, as reported byCoinbase in April, patent filings were made public that showed the bank was exploring using blockchain to improve the efficiency of issuing certificates by keeping users from repetitively filing the same document to multiple entities.
Instead of the certificates being obtained by the issuing agency and submitted repetitively to multiple agencies, the technology would allow it to be passed and viewed digitally, streamlining authentication of the document and cutting down on the effectiveness of counterfeiting.
So Lets Start With The Basics: What Is Blockchain Exactly
Put simply, a blockchain is a database. Its an ever-growing database of different kinds of data and it has quite remarkable properties:
To understand how several people are able to keep their copies of the database in sync with everyone elses, imagine this:
There are ten individuals in a network.
Everyone is sitting with an empty folder and a blank page in front of them.
Whenever anyone does something important in the network, like transferring money, they announce it to everyone in the network.
Everyone makes a note of each announcement on their page until their pages are full. When theyre full, everyone has to seal the contents of their page by solving a mathematical puzzle. Solving a mathematical puzzle verifies that everyones page has the same contents and ensures they can never be modified. Whoever seals their page first, gets rewarded with some amount of cryptocurrency.
Once the page is sealed, it is added to the folder. A new page is brought out and the process continues forever.
As time passes, these pages that contain important records are added to the folder , thus forming the database .
For the detailed version, heres the ultimate guide to understanding blockchain.
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Stopping The Illicit Diamond Trade
Dont you just hate it when your diamond encrusted watch turns out to be a fake? Well, the good news is that fake or subpar quality diamonds are soon to be a thing of the past thanks to blockchain tech. One UK blockchain startup, Everledger, has already built a global digital ledger using the IBM blockchain to track and protect the worlds diamonds.
Thanks to the ledgers transparency, tampering or unauthorized access are supposedly impossible. So far, over one million diamonds have been digitally encrypted on the blockchain. This provides a vast data pool with which to verify the quality of diamonds, thus preventing the illicit diamond trade.
Improved Security And Privacy
The security of blockchain-enabled systems is another leading benefit of this emerging technology. The enhanced security offered by blockchain stems from how the technology actually works: Blockchain creates an unalterable record of transactions with end-to-end encryption, which shuts out fraud and unauthorized activity. Additionally, data on the blockchain is stored across a network of computers, making it nearly impossible to hack . Furthermore, blockchain can address privacy concerns better than traditional computer systems by anonymizing data and requiring permissions to limit access.
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As Early As 2014 Companies Are Using Blockchain
Interest and adoption by these corporations started as early as 2014. Many of them announced their commitment to joining consortia, building their own ledger networks, or using other blockchain-based solutions. Many claimed to go live in the years to come.
Over the years, we have seen most of them at least embrace the idea that blockchain technology is a serious innovation to help improve their current business models and/or operations.
As of September 2021, 81 of the top 100 public companies are using blockchain technology.
This includes those who are in a research phase . However, if we remove the research phase, we find that there are still an impressive 65 companies who are actively developing blockchain solutions.
These solutions have ranged from successful pilots, to major projects currently in development, and live in-production services that are being used by employees, partners and clients today.
So what did we find in terms of technology adoption? Let’s take a look!
Brands Using Blockchain Technology To Reshape Marketing And Advertising
In October 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto launched bitcoin with a white paper, creating and deploying bitcoins original implementation. As part of the implementation, the first blockchain database was devised. Despite being released almost a decade ago, however, blockchain technology has only entered the public consciousness in the last few years.
With that heightened awareness has come an increased dialogue about blockchains applications, not to mention financial potential. This was perhaps best demonstrated by Long Island Iced Tea, which changed its name to the Long Blockchain Corporation, announced it was going to start mining bitcoin, and saw its shares more than quadruple in a single day.
Hysteria aside, companies are exploring how best to leverage blockchain. For example, brands are exploring whether blockchain can help solve some serious challenges with transparency in marketing and advertising. This is especially pertinent as GDPR and privacy concerns make data security even more important to consumers.
Numerous brands are seeing what blockchain can do here are four prime examples.
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How Did Blockchain Come About
Blockchain has been in existence as a concept in computer science even before it was used in cryptocurrency. The initial form of blockchain was known as the hash tree or Merkle tree, patented by Ralph Merkle in 1979. It functioned by verifying and handling data between computer systems.
In 1991, the Merkle tree was used to create a secured chain of blocks of several data, which were connected in a chain, one after the other. The newest record in the chain will contain the history of the entire chain, and this is how blockchain was formed.
In 2008, a set of people known as Satoshi Nakamoto came up with a concept of distributed blockchain which would contain a secured history of data exchanges. It functions through a peer-to-peer network to time stamp and verify exchange transactions and could be managed independently without a central authority.
The peer-to-peer version of this electronic cash is known as bitcoin and this is how the blockchain we know today came about.
How Blockchain Is Used For Sustainability
We categorized three main ways in which blockchain is being applied for sustainable development: Sustainable Finance , Traceability , and Energy Trading.
Let’s take a look at how blockchain is able to help in each of these three categories. We’ll also give some practical examples of companies applying blockchain technology within each specific category.
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Pfizer: Pharmaceutical Inventory Management
Pfizer is also implementing blockchain technology. Biogen and Pfizer just completed proof of concept for the project. This project is for tracking records and managing the digital inventory of pharmaceutical products.
In reality, the group also comes with other players such as GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, AstraZeneca, and Deloitte.
Blockchain And Transportation: What Are The Risks
Just as the widespread application of any technology comes with its risks, the transportation and freight industryâs foray into blockchain technology presents some potential issues.
Some, like Daimler Trucks North Americaâs Director of Business Development, Lori Heino Royer, see the advantages of blockchain in trucking but identify some potential risks.
Heino Royer believes that blockchainâs immutability could backfire, as all data entry at its outset is subject to human error. She also mentions that if a companyâs private key were to get damaged or misplaced, the blockchain would become unverifiable and there would be a massive loss of data.
Most other concerns stem from a belief that blockchain adoption in trucking and logistics will be just another imperfect technological adaptation.
Some entities in the industry are wary of mass adoption of new technology, as they have witnessed failures first hand.
Electronic Data Interchange has been the standard system in the logistics industry for over 30 years, and the industry still lacks an overall EDI standard. Instead, there are multiple different versions of the technology, causing a messy chain of inconsistencies from company to company which contribute to many of the issues weâve touched on in this piece.
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Revamping The Insurance Industry
Weve heard of decentralized databases, decentralized exchanges, and decentralized organizations. But now companies using blockchain are working to decentralize the insurance industry too.
If youve ever had the misfortune of putting in an insurance claim and getting it denied, or receiving a substantially smaller payout than expected, youre not the only one. Insurance companies around the globe aim to minimize payouts and maximize profits. This makes their interests misaligned with those of their customers.
Companies like Etherisc and Aigang are using blockchain and smart contracts to ensure that claims are automated and visible to anyone. Theyre also working to remove intermediaries and ensure larger payouts while recreating trust between customers and insurance agents.
Where Blockchain Technology Leads Us
Microsoft believes that a blockchain system can help businesses increase efficiency and speed, simplify operations by reducing cost and time related to reconciliations and disputes, and potentially enable new business models increasing revenue and savings. Microsoft has recognized the disruptive capabilities of the new technology and even plans to inject blockchain into some of the company’s future products. The company currently has over 40 blockchain patents filed.
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Safer Data Storage At A Reasonable Price
Although todays preferred data storage option is in cloud computing, a lot of storage capacity on cloud infrastructure domains remains unused . The fact that cloud servers are clustered at the service providers end makes people even more concerned about the risk of breaches and cyber-attacks.
Blockchain allows users to store data in a safer digital world, for a fair price. Organizations can begin storing the data mutually on each others machine by leasing additional storage space this relationship is handled on a blockchain by specialist providers.
The stored data is then encrypted and will only be available to those who have the crypto key. Businesses using a blockchain-based, decentralized data storage system will be ensured that data is safe and protected, while those renting storage space would enjoy an additional income for otherwise surplus capital.
Biggest Companies Utilizing Blockchain Technology In 2018
Blockchain is a technological innovation that brought more than just Bitcoin to society. This technology has the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and trust across multiple sectors of the economy. It is essentially a publicly auditable, automated distributed ledger that removes control of critical information from a small group of powerful individuals and spreads it across the entire community.
In addition, some blockchains can greatly increase the speed at which transactions can be completed through the use of smart contracts. A smart contract is a technology that allows transactions and deals to occur between two parties without the need for a lawyer or third party to validate the trust in the deal this is all handled transparently and automatically by the smart contract. This results in deals between individuals and/or businesses that are faster, cheaper, and result in a huge decrease in the chance of fraudulent activity or interference.
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The Advantages Of Blockchain
Led by companies such as Walmart and Procter & Gamble, considerable advancement in supply chain information sharing has taken place since the 1990s, thanks to the use of enterprise resource planning systems. However, visibility remains a challenge in large supply chains involving complex transactions.
To illustrate the limitations of the current world of financial-ledger entries and ERP systems, along with the potential benefits of a world of blockchain, let us describe a hypothetical scenario: a simple transaction involving a retailer that sources a product from a supplier, and a bank that provides the working capital the supplier needs to fill the order. The transaction involves information flows, inventory flows, and financial flows. Note that a given flow does not result in financial-ledger entries at all three parties involved. And state-of-the-art ERP systems, manual audits, and inspections cant reliably connect the three flows, which makes it hard to eliminate execution errors, improve decision-making, and resolve supply chain conflicts.
Capturing the Details of a Simple Transaction: Conventional vs. Blockchain Systems
The financial ledgers and enterprise resource planning systems now used dont reliably allow the three parties involved in a simple supply-chain transaction to see all the relevant flows of information, inventory, and money. A blockchain system eliminates the blind spots.
Examples Of Industries That Benefit From Using Blockchain
Blockchain’s benefits span industry sectors, but some sectors and enterprises are better suited to this technology than others. Businesses that are decentralized by definition, have multiple parties that need access to the same data and need a better way to ensure that data has not been tampered with are piloting programs or brought test cases to full production. The following are a few examples of industries benefiting from blockchain.
- Financial institutions — and their customers — are seeing faster and less-costly clearing and settlement.
- Healthcare entities are finding that blockchain can ensure the security of patient records and to maintain patient privacy while also enabling the ability to share a patient’s data only as the patient allows.
- Nonprofits and government agencies have adopted smart contracts and other blockchain-based applications to create immutable records that enforce stipulated terms.
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Most Valuable Blockchain Companies In The World
In this article, we will take a look at the 15 most valuable blockchain companies in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of these companies, and go directly to the 5 Most Valuable Blockchain Companies in the World.
When investors and consumers come across the term ‘blockchain’, for most of them, the first thing that crosses their mind is Bitcoin. While Bitcoin and blockchains are inextricably linked, the latter is more diverse than a simple currency, even though it forms the very backbone of what Bitcoin offers, i.e., anonymity and transaction security.
In simple terms, a blockchain is a distributed collection of records, traditionally referred to as a ledger. Any party which uses this ledger for a transaction can access it and make changes, which results in multiple copies with multiple users, a concept that improves transaction integrity.
Fortune Business Insights mirrors the CAGR and market size values shared by MarketsandMarkets. This research firm projects a CAGR of 56.1% for the global blockchain market for the years between 2019 to 2027, with the industry expected to have a value of $69 billion by 2027 end.
Prudential: Blockchain Trade Platform
Singapores insurance giant Prudential has teamed up with Starhub on blockchain implementation. The two are working together on a digital trade platform targeting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Fast-track Trade is the blockchain-powered platform that will seek to make it easier for businesses to find partners, and distributors as well as be able to make payments and track goods. Prudential is also to use the platform to offer insurance products.
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Top 20 Enterprises Implementing Blockchain Technology
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Improving Financing Contracting And International Transactions
When inventory, information, and financial flows are shared among firms through a blockchain, significant gains in supply chain financing, contracting, and doing business internationally are possible.
Consider the matter of financing. Banks that provide working capital and trade credit to firms face a well-known problem of information asymmetry regarding a borrower firms business, the quality of its assets, and its liabilities. For example, a company might borrow money from several banks against the same asset, or request a loan for one purpose and then use it for another. Banks design their processes to control such risks, which increases transaction costs, slows down access to capital, and reduces the capital available to small firms. Such frictions are detrimental not only to banks but also to firms that need cheap working capital.
Another activity ripe for improvement is accounts payable management, an elaborate process that involves invoicing, reconciling invoices against purchase orders, keeping track of terms and payments, and conducting reviews and approvals at each step. Even though ERP systems have automated many of these steps, considerable manual intervention is still needed. And since neither of the transacting firms has complete information, conflicts often arise.
A counterfeit can be traced to its source using the blockchain trail.
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