Blockchain: The Real Advantages Start to Come Up

For more than two years now, blockchain has been talked about a lot: a technology promising to create a “decentralized ledger” to guarantee digital transaction veracity.

Once a transaction has been recorded in blockchain, it is in fact “signed” by a widespread network of “signers” and becomes immutable; it is therefore impossible to modify or cancel it, alter its contents or its metadata (author, addressee, etc.) without it being known. The fact that the “signers” are not a centralized body implies the whole thing takes place in a robust way, without having to rely on a company (or a government) in particular. The system is reliable and not alterable by design, this is the real revolution.

So far, the applications of this concept have paradoxically been many, and very few. It is certainly applicable to a whole series of cases in which it is necessary to immutably certify a transaction, and those cases are really many, from logistics to production or contracts. But it is also true that there are many already successful technologies which substantially do the same thing; the true killer application should therefore be something implying this, but also, and above all, that there is not a “superior entity” which holds power over data and might want to manipulate them. This is the real value proposition of blockchain, the one distinguishing it from a distributed database; and in this sense there are very few applications which cannot really be done in a different way – E-Government, international contract drawing, and things like that.

Where there is a comparison with an already successful technology, the choice usually becomes confusing, also because blockchain is paid for: it is a complex technology, always-online by nature, slow and costly in terms of computational resources as it is necessary to strongly guarantee that everything should work “by the book”. Then, why adopt it? In our opinion, this question has so far limited its diffusion: after an infinite series of experiments and assessments, the effectively implemented projects are still few, and not very pervasive.

And yet we are finally arriving at an interesting point. The “price” of blockchain derives from the fact that it is a young and very complex technology: the cryptography applications that make it possible are relatively new, not yet mature and therefore there is great space for improvement. This is exactly the moment in which increasing demand is starting to embrace technical possibilities, therefore the traditional disadvantages we have already mentioned are becoming less evident and some applications more plausible – and convenient.

Considering our strong collaboration with important companies in the food world, our attention is directed to production chain traceability: a real problem – that of making visible and guaranteeing that a given product comes from a certain source and has been through a number of controls before getting to be sold and arriving on our tables. This will be the topic of our next article: “How blockchain is applied to production chain traceability”.