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Moving Beyond Smart Contracts: What Are The Next Generations Of Blockchain Use Cases? Posted on Dec 05 - 2018

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Beyond the everyday hype of rising and falling cryptocurrency valuations is a burgeoning ecosystem of solutions built on the blockchain. Financial services and supply chain use cases are among those furthest along, but others are also making huge gains. One of the main drivers of this trend I've seen is the smart contracts functionality that has made Ethereum (which my company uses) and Ripple Payments in particular one of the most widely used blockchain applications.

A helpful working definition from Investopedia is that "smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code."

While there are many aspects of blockchain that make it an innovative technology, I want to focus on this concept of smart contracts because of their utility across heavily transactional industries like real estate (my industry), financial services, import/export and any industry that relies on a supply chain. Smart contracts are a great tool, but they are only just the beginning.

Real Estate: The Biggest Use Case of Them All

Digging deeper into what I believe is the next generation of blockchain use cases is best accomplished by focusing on the real estate industry, as it's the industry my company operates in. But that’s just one industry example of many, as I’ll explain a bit further down. As I mentioned in my previous Forbes article about how technology is changing the real estate market, real estate is bogged down by a serious lack of transparency between buyers and sellers or renters, inefficient processes -- including lots of paper -- and legacy technology solutions, so it is ripe for innovations like blockchain. It is also one of many industries driven by transactions, contracts and a desire for the highest level of security possible.

After successfully building a real estate blockchain platform, I think the next big thing for blockchain and smart contract innovation across industries is the Ricardian contract.

The Ricardian Contract: A Smarter And More Useful Digital Contract

Smart contracts are the reason that companies like mine, Selfkey, Augur and many others even exist. They provide an essential function that makes blockchain such a useful platform for building solutions. That’s great, but it’s not enough. That’s why I see building on top of Ricardian contracts as the basis for what's next for anyone working on blockchain solutions (and why my company plans to utilize them).

In a nutshell, information from legal documents can be placed in a Ricardian contract and then automatically and securely executed once certain conditions are met. One important benefit to a building on top of a Ricardian contract is that it is readable by machines and humans alike, which makes it both technically binding (as a machine executable form) and legally binding (as a legally executable form). This benefit could have immediate usefulness for industries that rely on contracts and technology to run efficiently and legally. Examples include processing financial trades and executing legal documents. View More

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