As I write this article, bitcoin is trading at a little more than a third of its value since December when it peaked at nearly US$20,000. Other cryptocurrencies have taken similar tumbles. Regulators in several countries are cracking down on ICOs.
At a glance, the layman may think that the blockchain mania is over.
But cryptocurrencies and ICOs are just one aspect of the blockchain universe. Other kinds of blockchain startups are still proliferating, and big companies and financial institutions are exploring the technology’s applications.
With this in mind, Blocklime and Dapp.com co-organized a blockchain development bootcamp. This was quickly followed by a “dappathon” (a decentralized applications hackathon) in Malaysia, where I was invited as one of the mentors to more than 80 participants.
From the 20-odd teams that survived, there were some locally born use cases that caught my eye.
Immutable Halal food sources
Consumers today are much more concerned over what they eat, drink, and use, more so for Muslim consumers. For frequent overseas travelers, language barriers often pose a problem. This was the experience of a dappathon participant when she traveled to Japan.
As a solution, her team came up with an idea to place product information on the blockchain for consumers to access by scanning QR codes. By decentralizing this process, it weeds out fabricated and inaccurate food labels, providing more transparency to the end consumer.
Similarly, the solution can be applied to other industries such as beauty and healthcare, where allergies and other health conditions prohibit the use of certain ingredients.
Transparent university application process
On an almost annual basis, Malaysian students cry foul over the untrustworthy application processes of some public universities. It’s an open secret that even the most qualified students won’t make the cut because of discriminatory or arbitrary selection criteria.
A participating team made up of university undergraduates thought of using dapps to make the student selection process more transparent. The idea is to develop a more publicly monitored procedure that would inevitably improve the social standing and reduce social distrust in the public university selection processes.
Digital ID for pets and livestock
Pets (Public Domain Pictures)
Many have spoken about KYC (know your client), yet not many have mentioned the KYP (know-your-pet) platform that uses blockchain technology to comprehensively document pets’ health records and pedigree.
Animal birth and health certificates can be easily falsified, making verification of a pet’s value extremely difficult. Having an all-inclusive platform that tracks pedigree and bloodlines would make it more difficult for profiteers to benefit from illegal and unethical breeding mills.
While tracking the data of an animal may seem trivial, from a zoological and agricultural standpoint, it is absolutely necessary. In Japan, for instance, wagyu and kobe beef have their own grading standard, which measures the meat’s intramuscular fat or “marbling.” In fact, since the first known case of mad cow disease back in 2001, all Japanese cattle are individually earmarked with 10-digit identification numbers.
Portable verified credentials
From contract cheating and plagiarism to the fraudulent licensing of various institutions, academic fraud creates very real problems for companies globally, especially those that are looking to hire.
This is a widespread issue in certain countries where counterfeit certificates can be easily obtained. One of the dappathon teams proposed to place credentials on the blockchain. By enabling portability of verified credentials, we can reduce the fraudulent misuse of academic records to gain access or employment.
Just as very few people in the mid-1990s could predict the emergence of Google, Facebook, and Uber, we cannot accurately predict how blockchain-based applications will emerge from the wreckage of the crypto bubble.
The more developed countries such as Singapore and Korea have had a head start in diving into this deep tech, but the winds are changing for other countries. Corporates and government bodies in developing countries are starting to see past the noise and are taking notice of the true potential of this infrastructural technology.
The ideas from this dappathon are aimed squarely at improving many of the gate-keeping institutions in Malaysia, but a more holistic and collaborative framework is needed if more progress is to be achieved. Once the relevant stakeholders look past the wild speculation and focus on what is being built underneath, the enthusiasm of these “dappathoners” can be easily understood because the technology itself is all about creating one priceless asset: trust.