Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you have probably heard about the  blockchain revolution that is making virtual millionaires without a concrete dollar to show for it. One out of every four Americans now agree that Bitcoin will change the future of digital spending.

Although the industry surrounding Bitcoin is rapidly changing (and quite volatile), with over 12,000 transactions taking place across the globe every hour, the cryptocurrency’s dominance is getting stronger by the minute.

First of all, let’s define these terms.

  • Bitcoin – A cryptocurrency and a global payment system. Transactions are made with no intermediaries (banks). They do not have fees or require you to give out personal information.
  • Blockchain – A constantly-growing compilation of records, known as blocks. These are secured and linked with cryptography. Every block represents a hash marker in relation to a transaction. Blockchain does not require intermediaries either.

While the software behind Bitcoin started off as a safer way to transfer online funds, many entrepreneurs have found other creative uses for the encryption technology. Here are four innovative ways startups are using the Bitcoin and blockchain tech to totally transform certain industries.

1. Revolutionising rentals

While the real estate industry has its ups and downs, one sector that continues to grow is apartment rentals. In 2017, new apartment construction reached an all-time high (with about 345,000 completions, as per Yardi Matrix) as long-term rental property demand continues to spike.

One startup found an interesting way to empower renters and landlords alike with some interesting cryptocurrency practices. Rentberry is an apartment rental finder that is powered by blockchain, providing users with a sense of security when it comes to sharing private information online. Its unique platform lets potential renters bid on monthly rates and security deposits, allowing landlords to quickly fill empty spaces.

Rentberry created its own cryptocurrency, called BERRY tokens, for renters to bid with. Everything from applications, utility bills, and rental agreements are encrypted with Blockchain for security and efficiency, saving both landlords and renters money by eliminating any middlemen in the process.

Its unique spin on the rental process (with prospective tenants bidding eBay style on the rent) has certainly caught the eye of investors, with over $4 million raised through platforms like Google Ventures. The site launched in 2015, and expanded throughout the US, with plans to break into the European and Asian markets by 2019.

It appears blockchain is going to usher in huge changes in how we think about living spaces.

2. Fortifying data access

64% of Americans have now experienced an online security breach, leading many to believe that their personal information is not secure even amid online encryption.

While cloud storage sites these days are a dime a dozen, tech startup Storj found a way to exploit Blockchain (where information and data is distributed and decentralised, offering more security for users) to provide end-to-end encryption. Storj also uses its own Storjcoin X cryptocurrency for transaction fees and payment incentives.

While Blockchain technology is certainly not 100% hacker-proof, it has shown some great promise in terms of encrypting sensitive information, making it noticeably more secure than traditional methods.

Also read: With improved trust and social connections, blockchain can improve B2B relationships, says TraDove CEO Kent Yan

3. Reimagining organisations

The word “hiring” and “presenting” can strike fear into the heart of many introverted – or should I say socially anxious – entrepreneurs who’d rather be coding than making small talk or going around asking for funds. Since many tech startup companies are founded and developed entirely online these days, one business found a truly unique way to merge contact leverage with cryptocurrency trends.

Colony describes itself as a “platform for open organisations” that emphasises safe transparency in building better infrastructure for online companies. Users can start businesses, projects or non-profit organizations through the site, and receive funding and assistance from other users. Colony users are encouraged to utilize their personal skills to help other online organizations. The more they do so, the more tokens they can earn. Users then invest those tokens to determine partial ownership of said online companies.

It provides a platform for entrepreneurs to find the connections they need and opens up pathways for virtually anyone to get involved with startups in multiple stakeholder roles, and transform the “nature of the firm“, all the while regulated by blockchain tokens!

It appears blockchain is going to usher in huge changes in how we think about work and entrepreneurship.

4. Eliminating IOUs

You know that panicky moment when you realize that you’ve forgotten your wallet at a restaurant, cinema, or bar, and had to borrow a few bucks from a trusted friend. While mobile wallets and online gateways have certainly helped make payments easier, they are not without glitches or complications. Plus, many of those online systems are not (yet) integrated, so people must use the same platforms if they want to transact.

Circle lets users text currency back and forth with no fees, even on international transfers. It uses the power of blockchain to encrypt every transaction, along with verification and fingerprint IDs for extra security.

What makes Circle unique is the fact that it doesn’t use Bitcoin or Ethereum for these transfers; it is actual money. However, blockchain encryption provides added security, and since the company uses text messages for transfers, there’s no need to sign up for accounts on several platforms or verify credentials at multiple touchpoints.

Money transfer has become incredibly easy over the past decade. It appears as though it’s about to get even easier.

Time to get started

Many industries have faced unforeseen challenges and opportunities that go along with new digital standards. Some have found ways to expand the use of blockchain and pivot into truly path-breaking companies. The opportunities certainly seem endless and there’s enough room for even more innovation in the near future.

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