Having a social purpose could make Blockchain easier to accept

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Advocates of blockchain and digital currencies describe the plethora of potential benefits for privacy, transparency, accountability and efficiency in commerce, finance and bureaucracy.

While some claims for blockchain technology might be premature, there are already some fascinating applications in the fields of finance, logistics and supply chain management.

Commonwealth Bank’s Head of Blockchain Sophie Gilder has described how the bank issued a cryptobond for Queensland Treasury Corporation using its capital markets blockchain platform, in the first blockchain bond issuance by a government entity both in Australia and in the world.

Sierra Leone has even become the first country to use blockchain technology to run an election.

An article by the World Economic Forum has pointed out that, despite these advances, there has been a growing backlash as the technology’s drawbacks become better known. They point out that Bitcoin alone uses 0.25% of the world’s electricity, while other blockchain systems, such as Ethereum, use similar approaches that require computers to burn electricity unnecessarily.

The WEF article also highlights concerns around data security and hacking, including the potential use of Blockchain by criminals and terrorists to transfer funds.

Among potential solutions to these concerns highlighted by the WEF article are new blockchain projects with an explicit social mission. Bflow.io offers a system for reporting corporate sustainability. Alice.si strives for greater accountability from charities. Provenance.org tracks tuna from shore to plate, giving consumers confidence in sustainability.

The question remains though, is it appropriate, for example, for a climate change project to use blockchain which is energy intensive and emits as much CO2 as a small country.

The WEF notes that a potential solution is a new wave of mission-driven blockchain projects conscious about their total social impact. They highlight Faircoin which uses a codebase that requires little electricity and allows the distribution of coins to socially useful projects. Yetta is intended to be sustainable by design, with the low energy requirements of its codebase being moderated further by automated rewards for those nodes using renewable energy. Yetta also enables automated philanthropy to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SEE ALSO: Early blockchain experiments in the real business world are pointing to some of the jobs of the future

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