Ethereum is one of the most powerful and customizable decentralized development platforms. It’s easy to say that blockchain is going to change the world – but what are some of the real, practical ways blockchain will change the world?
What kind of real-world use cases are there for Ethereum? Will Ethereum be a part of our everyday lives in the future?
Peio Purlev recently explored that issue at Coinstaker.com. Purlev highlighted a number of use cases for Ethereum, including the various ways Ethereum could change our world.
Bitcoin was designed as a peer-to-peer system for payments and transactions. That’s the core function of bitcoin. Ethereum, meanwhile, is far more customizable. With Ethereum, anyone who knows the Solidity programming language can build decentralized apps on the Ethereum blockchain. You don’t even need any programming knowledge to get started: you can find plenty of tutorials online that will walk you through the entire process.
Over the last year, we’ve seen developers launch thousands of coins – like ERC-20 tokens – on the Ethereum blockchain. Some of these coins are designed to function as part of a cryptocurrency and payment system. Other coins are designed to participate in games – like the collectible CryptoKitties digital tokens.
The power of Ethereum lies in its smart contracts. Smart contracts are essentially software programs based on the blockchain. You can customize these software programs with the code of your choice.
Ethereum Use Cases: How is Ethereum Used in the Real World?
Many of the use cases below rely on Ethereum smart contracts, the Solidity programming language, and other unique Ethereum features. With that in mind, here are some of Ethereum’s most common use cases today.
Governments can use the Ethereum blockchain to store information about citizens, corporations, and other entities. You could store birth dates, death certificates, social security numbers, marriage data, degrees, and other information, for example, with a low degree of risk. It’s a digital registry that can be used to organize an entire population.
A National Cryptocurrency:
A government can issue a national cryptocurrency using Ethereum. We’ve already seen a similar project with Venezuela’s Petro, the world’s first government-backed cryptocurrency. A government-backed cryptocurrency could allow the government to track the movement of funds. It would combine the security of fiat money with the convenience of blockchain-based currencies. China is rumored to be launching their own national cryptocurrency in the future, although it’s unclear if they will use the Ethereum blockchain or something else.
A Hedge Against Economic Turmoil:
You can use Ethereum – or any cryptocurrency, really – as a hedge against the rest of your portfolio. There’s no guarantee that your national currency is going to be worth anything in the near future. If you held a fortune in Venezuelan Bolivars 5 years ago, for example, and didn’t diversify your assets, then your money is worthless today because of Venezuela’s hyper-inflation.
An Educational Registry:
Ethereum and other blockchains could function like an educational and professional registry. A government or university could store information about citizens in the blockchain, including degrees, certifications, grades, education, and more. This can prevent fraud and help employers hire the best individuals. It would make it tougher to falsify degree information on a resume.
Reassigning Ownership And Replacing Notaries:
Smart contracts can take the place of notaries. The Ethereum blockchain functions as the middleman, which means we don’t need a middleman like a notary. Blockchain technology has the power to totally eliminate third parties like notaries.
We’ve seen Ethereum used in peer-to-peer financing platforms, including everything from lending platforms to initial coin offerings. Ethereum is changing the way companies raise venture capital financing, and it can be used for a range of innovative financial products, including insurance registries, derivatives, and business deals secured by smart contracts.
Ethereum can be used to secure business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) arrangements. These arrangements can be encoded in an Ethereum smart contract to keep both parties honest. Corporate arrangements can range from service agreements to shareholder agreements to voting systems, registries, asset permission assignments, and more.
Many of the above use cases are found in decentralized apps, or Dapps. Just like with ordinary mobile apps, there’s no limit to the number of use cases in decentralized apps. You can build an app for personal assets, intellectual property, smart property, savings accounts, wills, games, and much more.
Digital Identity Storage:
Store your digital identity in a highly-secure way using the Ethereum blockchain. You can store your passport information, for example, and healthcare information on the blockchain. You can selectively share this information with someone who needs it – say, a prospective employer.
Taxes And Voting:
Ethereum and other blockchains can be used to help you perform your civic duties – like paying taxes and voting. You could pay taxes as secured by the blockchain, for example. Or, governments could assign each citizen one vote, secured by the blockchain, and then make issues on key policies, elections, and referendums.
Conclusion: Ethereum Has Enormous Potential
Ethereum is like a decentralized supercomputer. You can use the network for anything you can program into a smart contract using the Solidity programming language. So far, use cases have ranged from voting mechanisms to collectible cat games, from peer-to-peer lending scams to blockchain-based financing.
Ethereum celebrated its third birthday on July 30, 2018. The world’s second largest blockchain by market cap is just three years old, which means its brightest days could still lie ahead.