The past two years have given way to significant changes in information technology and the way New Yorkers trade information, but few are making as big of an entrance as the way blockchain is being embraced in COVID-era NYC. In fact, it’s glaringly obvious that we’re catching a glimpse of a technology that will only continue to expand, yielding near-limitless opportunities for positive change and a drastic overhaul in the way we store and use information. From Wall Street to Hell’s Kitchen, blockchain may be changing the way we work, trade, and interact in the city long term.
Buzz on the Block
Blockchain has been around for about three decades, but it seems to have finally found its footing amidst the rising cryptocurrency craze. There is a myriad of reasons blockchain is near-perfect for Bitcoin exchange, including the promise of security, accuracy, and even anonymity.
However, the benefits of blockchain technology aren’t limited to cryptocurrency. Blockchain can be used to record and distribute digital information of any kind without the risk of tampering or unauthorized editing. In fact, editing encrypted information in a “block” is extensively difficult, and the possibility of hackers gaining access to and successfully altering information is next to impossible.
You’ve Been Blocked
Blockchain has become a buzzword among investors and laymen alike as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency exchanges take flight. As the only way to ensure the security and accuracy of crypto exchanges, blockchain technology is finally stepping into the limelight, but many people don’t realize their everyday lives are already entangled in the maze of blocks – right here in NYC.
The feature of locked and loaded data protection makes blockchain an ideal storage system for many (if not all) businesses outside of currency, trade, and banking. Integral industries including healthcare, foodservice, and supply-chain organizations have employed blockchain intelligence for years. In these cases, blockchain provides a system with the ability to track issues like salmonella outbreaks, identifying a specific source of contamination or disease.
Other industries that have already embraced blockchain data storage include mobile app development, payroll and staffing services, online gaming, social services, event planning, universities, and law firms.
The question is not if blockchain will become the go-to tech for information storage and exchange, in NYC and beyond, but when. There are already more than 57 active blockchain development firms in New York City alone.
So what does this mean for life in the boroughs – specifically as we forge onward in the seemingly endless COVID era? Most recently, we’ve seen the integration of the technology in the way the city is policing citywide mandates and most specifically, vaccine requirements and restrictions. It’s also providing a safer, and more effective way, to complete business transactions and reduce fraud.
Now that citizens and visitors are required to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor entertainment, dining, and fitness venues, blockchain developers are faced with an enormous opportunity. Although many people go the route of flashing their paper vaccine card, it’s also acceptable for diners and theatergoers to use digital vaccine passports via NY state’s Excelsior Pass app or the city’s NYC COVID SAFE app.
Developers of both apps tout the security and convenience of the platforms, but Excelsior Pass takes it a step further by validating vaccine status through cross-checking personal information with the state’s vaccination records. In this case, blockchain technology is used to protect user data, but also to verify the accuracy of vaccine reporting. There’s very little to no chance of falsifying vaccine status here, whereas other mobile apps and paper cards may be easily forged.
Doing the Deed With Data
Beyond the scope of proving vaccine status, blockchain can also provide business solutions with a safer, faster, and more secure platform for completing transactions and recording important data. Because each entry that’s entered into a block is time-stamped and encrypted, falsifying data or meddling in the transfer of property, for example, is easily traceable.
Electronic records management across all industries is making a big shift toward implementing blockchain operations. Workplace changes (read: more people working remotely) and pandemic-influenced shifts in protocol have created a dire need for secure storage and tracking of electronic data.
NYC real estate and finance may be among the frontrunners in reaping a major advantage of blockchain for one big reason. A blockchain “proof-of-concept” in development by New York City’s Department of Finance could change the way the property industry works forever.
This specific proof-of-concept technology would store the data included in property documents in a way that is fully transparent and inalterable, but would also aid in identifying and curtailing incidents such as deed fraud by mapping out crystal clear chains of title. Real estate firms, along with their legal and financial counterparts, are poised to permanently embrace this fraud-resistant blockchain technology in order to streamline and secure their practices, with less oversight and greater accuracy.
Blockchain is the New Black
Furthermore, blockchain is a big deal in the simplest way, as we continue navigating life in NYC during the COVID-era. Simply put, using platforms that employ blockchain technology for trade, data management, or fund transfer eliminates an unnecessary middleman. While this may not bode well for middlemen, it’s certainly the safest way to execute a secure and COVID-friendly transaction, unfettered by the limited business hours of the bank and the stranger behind the counter.
Pandemic precautions aside, blockchain has the potential to make business and government operations more accurate, secure, efficient, and cost-effective by eliminating the need for a third party. In the meantime, we’re happy to embrace an evolving technology that teeters on the age of space-age cybernetics and promises a better way to do business.