Blockchain is a technology that allows a record of transactions to be maintained without the need of a third party; it is also a completely new way to organise and structure data. Blockchain’s fast development has been impacting different businesses and industries, and it looks to revolutionise the importance and relevance of big data in the coming the years.

Why use big data for blockchain?

The rise and use of ‘big data’ has hit a stumbling stone – a stumbling boulder, really – namely, its lack of security and accuracy. Usually, extremely large datasets come with a few unknown and missing values, resulting in flawed interpretations and insights when these are analysed. With the implementation of blockchain technology, all transactions and their details remain registered and unchanged, preventing any alteration to be made. As all transactions are recorded several times, the source of the database is completely secure. This implies more trustful insights when the data is interpreted.

The immutability of data can also naturally improve modelling capabilities. For instance, the implementation of machine learning tools would increase its accuracy after each registration. With the expansion of the data sample, the prediction of data patterns would become even more accurate, apart from being easier to identify irregular activities within the chain of information.

The fact that all transactions are decentralised and can be public might also result in a powerful change regarding the competitiveness of data obtainment. Generally, parties that attain large datasets have the power over how much and whom they will share the data with. However, with blockchain technology, data belongs to each individual. This turns them into the ones who will decide whether to share their own transactions or not. Furthermore, the fact that data registrations can be viewable by anyone relocates the power from those who own the data to those that will be able to interpret it and obtain the most accurate insights and solutions from it.

Who uses blockchain?

The use of blockchain technology is still in relative infancy, however, there are few sectors who are leading the charge in the adaption of this technology for the practical and business purposes.

Blockchain in Financial Institutions

The analysis of data can be significant in several industries, but the main driver for its use might differ. For instance, among financial institutions, it is safer and less expensive to transfer money using blockchain. Transactions are made in real-time, thus reducing potential risks, apart from being performed at lower costs as compared to traditional transactions. A recent example is the ‘utility settlement coin’, developed by the Swiss financial services company UBS. The aim was to create a digital currency for use in financial markets by issuing tokens convertible into cash on deposit at central banks. This would allow financial markets to make payments and settle transactions quickly using blockchain technology, while minimising risks in the payments and settlement process. Thus far, financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Credit Suisse and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce have already adopted this project.

Blockchain in Healthcare Companies

Security is also another reason for the use of blockchain, especially within the healthcare industry. Blockchain allows all records of a specific patient to be safely registered and unchanged. This reduces the risk of misdiagnosis or loss of relevant information about this patient. Moreover, since all registrations regarding a specific patient can be public gives other specialists the possibility of checking previous activities with different doctors, improving further treatments. For instance, the development of the MediLedger Project, which designed and implemented a process for using blockchain technology to improve the track-and-trace capabilities for prescription medicine. The project has already been adopted by drug giants, such as Genentech and Pfizer.

Blockchain in the Food Industry

Lastly, blockchain technology has already been implemented in the food industry. Major companies such as Nestlé and Unilever have already joined IBM’s project to explore how blockchain can assist with their operations. For instance, the adoption of blockchain technology can simplify their supply chains with automatic tracking of important information, such as temperature and quality of goods, shipment and delivery dates. Simultaneously, it can also improve food safety by quickly identifying what the source of a contamination is. The latter, once fully applied by the companies within this industry, can be used as a differentiation factor from competitors in the future. Customers might prefer the goods that have been traced from its source, assuring the quality of the product. It is a matter of time for companies to use this technology to their own advantage.

What’s the future of blockchain and big data?

In conclusion, as the use of blockchain is relatively new, a long time will pass by before this technology is fully implemented in different industries. Nonetheless, it is inevitable to realise that, when big data and blockchain are fully combined, relevant transformations will occur in the future.