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As 2017 saw the rise of interest in crypto and the blockchain, a lot of people are wondering what is there to do with it. After all, until people can go into a McDonald’s and spend their Bitcoin, most don’t see the practical purpose of blockchain tech yet. However, as we’re still in our infancy on this new technology, there are quite a few applications of the blockchain that could potentially change the internet as we know it; which is exactly why I’m bringing you a few noteworthy trends happening. Check them out below:

It’s Changing New Technologies

Although the tech world loves new sectors, some early innovators have begun looking at how the blockchain can influence these budding ventures. From improving legacy infrastructure in FinTech to creating decentralized markets for APIs, the exploration into how blockchain can play a role has been outstanding. However, out of all the new innovations that Silicon Valley has been salivating over, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been an early favorite.

With an estimated $284 billion spent on IoT in 2017 (as noted by Statista), this is one industry that’s been booming, with blockchain technologies hopefully helping IoT devices connect better. And although still early to market, there are a few firms really looking to make their mark on the relationship between IoT and the blockchain.

Next Big Thing (NBT) is a German-based organization that is dedicated to accelerating the development of IoT ventures, many of which rely on blockchain ledgers to share and distribute information. NBT boasts a portfolio of game-changing applications which leverage IoT-to-blockchain architectures to deliver decentralized solutions to some of our most pressing health and security problems.

Martin Buhl, CFO of NBT says, “I’m eager to see the continued decentralization of markets through the implementation of blockchain technology, as blockchain technology enables talented and forward-thinking innovators to swiftly build scalable solutions and watershed business models.”

Buhl makes a good point as blockchain is primed to effect IoT development, specifically in the health and security sectors. Be on the lookout for how these implementations will be utilized in the coming years, especially as this relationship grows stronger.

A New Frontier For Fundraising

One of the most exciting blockchain developments this past year was the introduction of the ICO or Initial Coin Offering. According to Coinschedule, ICOs accounted for nearly $3.7 billion in fundraising for early-stage blockchain companies, surpassing the total amounts that venture capital invested in seed/series-A ventures. These are presales of coins or tokens that can be used on whatever decentralized platform the blockchain company is creating, which differs from how we traditionally think about investment.

While ICOs behave similarly to IPOs in that it’s a public sale of a company, IPOs are for a stake in a company, meaning it’s considered a security. ICOs on the other hand, are selling a coin or token to be used on a decentralized platform, which means there’s no true telling on if the value of the coin will increase or decrease. I’ll note that if you plan on investing in ICOs, be incredibly careful of scammers, as well as the project potentially being shut down by the SEC. As the rules around this new phenomenon are changing, regulators are becoming more strict on blockchain startups to prove they aren’t selling securities, which is why you should look into if the platform is truly decentralized before buying.

Keeping Information Consistent

As we stated above on NBT’s work within the health and security industries, the sharing of information amongst those actors in these fields is going to be tremendous. As noted by Get RefferalMD, approximately 86 percent of mistakes made in healthcare are administrative, as a lot of hospitals work on different systems and have a hard time sending medical records around with accuracy. However, that’s what many are hoping the blockchain is going to change.

Where blockchain’s strength lies within the medical records industry is both with safety and security, as well as the speed in which files can be sent. Additionally, with a unique ID for each patient, it’s entirely possible to have a universal identity (much like a social security number) that can easily be transferred from one care facility to the next. And although many are eager to get the ball rolling with implementing blockchain to medical, financial, and security information, expect the buildout of the infrastructure to come within the next few years.

Faster, Cheaper Remittance

Although an early use-case we commonly forget, blockchain has been a huge help in the remittance industry, particularly through the trading of Bitcoin and Litecoin. If you’re not familiar, remittance is essentially the sending of money from one party to the next, which can be quite costly in certain places (especially developing nations). According to the World Bank, remittance costs an average of 7 percent of the total money sent, which can add up quick for those who are constantly sending money back and forth. However, this is something that the blockchain has already helped cut cost on, and is looking to gain more steam as cryptocurrencies become more popular.

What makes crypto such a popular choice to send money are a few things. First, the value of a coin is dictated by the market cap, not a central government. Second, the interchange fees can be relatively cheaper, especially in comparison to traditional channels like Western Union. And finally, the level of security that’s provided prevents fraud or theft from an account, which in places that have poor banking systems, can be a tremendous relief.

The Rise of Digital Collectibles

Finally, perhaps one of the most intriguing applications of the blockchain has been the decentralized platforms of digital collectibles. A relatively new practice, digital collectibles, or NFTs, are one-of-a-kind creations bought, sold, and traded on NFT marketplaces. An excellent example of this has been with CryptoKitties, which as Business Insider notes, has over 200,000 people trading digital cats (with some selling for over $50,000).

Basically, people create and nurture their cats to increase their value (think Tamagotchi, only with a cryptocurrency behind it), hopefully selling them for more than what they put in. And although some might find this silly, the basic idea of creating something with scarcity that can only be used on the blockchain has been groundbreaking, and something to see in the coming future.

What are some blockchain applications you’re excited to see come about? Comment with your answers below.