Why COVID-19 Is a Wake-up Call For Blockchain

Coronavirus is putting some serious challenges in the face of humanity, can blockchain help turn the tide?
Coronavirus is putting some serious challenges in the face of humanity, can blockchain help turn the tide?

The past few years have seen the boosting adoption of blockchain technology. From the healthcare industry to the financial industry, different organizations have been attracted to blockchain’s capacity to offer a fast, simple way of sharing information while staying secure. Can it turn into our secret weapon in fighting covid-19?

Still, despite the benefits it brings, the world has not yet reached mass blockchain adoption. Some of the obstacles for organizations include not only the costs of transitioning to a blockchain system and complex integration with pre-existing systems but also just a lack of knowledge on the blockchain.

Although some hesitance is completely understandable, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might pressurize businesses to re-evaluate how they see blockchain. As operations move steadily online in the face of worldwide lockdowns, newer and better solutions are certainly needed and perhaps the only blockchain can fill the void.

It’s in the middle of a pandemic that various companies can look at to see just how beneficial blockchain can be. 

Assistance With Moving Medical Supplies

Though blockchain is most often linked with cryptocurrencies, the way it enhances the sharing of crucial information has shown itself to be a potentially profitable tool in the tracking of medical supplies. In the middle of a global shortage of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, the advantage of such transparency can hardly be understated.

In traditional tracking systems, for example, every link throughout the supply chain receives and saves information on its system. This means that every time information is transferred from one link to another, important data could get corrupted or even entirely left behind. 

What blockchain does is it provides one overarching system for all users to pass the information on. This makes sure everyone receives the same version of information and there’s no confusion later on. This also eradicates costs linked with settling payments, reconciling data, etc. 

Take something significant these days like N95 masks. These are also utilized in the construction sector but could now be prioritized for usage in hospitals. A blockchain system can ensure people in disparate industries to share their inventories and transfer it to where it’s most needed.

Blockchain can also come in pretty handy in onboarding new companies who are looking to start developing medical equipment in these desperate times. Blockchain’s usage of encryption as a security measure ensures the fact that hospitals are comfortable in sharing data with these new players, without fear of data falling into the wrong hands. By narrowing down the time it takes to both vet and onboard these new suppliers, hospitals save time and money they could use for more pressing matters.

Supply Chain

With the pandemic putting global restrictions on movement that haven’t been seen since World War II, food supply security has emerged as a growing concern. 

Fortunately, blockchain has allowed a few companies to directly connect farmers to shippers, retailers, and financial institutions. Diminishing reliance on middlemen for stuff like loans and transport results in more money for farmers and cheaper retail prices. 

But that isn’t the only advantage. IBM, for instance, has used the technology to bring extra food transparency to the supply chain with the help of its product IBM Food Trust. The system offers better insights to customers on where their food comes from, providing a more precise response in times of a crisis.

Computing Power Towards COVID-19 Research

Backing bitcoin and various other popular cryptocurrencies on the blockchain tend to require producing ample amounts of computing energy and power. Mostly used in order to solve the complex mathematical equations required to unlock new bitcoin tokens, at times the energy required to fulfill the task can be equal to that of a normal-sized country—something that’s been a central point of criticism for bitcoin over the recent years.

Yet amidst the ongoing pandemic, blockchain development companies are now moving to dedicate their resources completely to aiding COVID-19 research. 

Several companies have signed up for initiatives such as Washington University’s Folding at Home Project, which hopes to develop a distributed supercomputer entirely for disease research and pharmaceutical development.

Even the World Health Organization themselves have taken note of blockchain’s vitality. The agency recently announced that it would be joining hands with companies like IBM and Microsoft to develop a distributed ledger tracking COVID-19 hotspots and carriers. Painted as an “information highway”, the program would cross-check location data with health information to track local and global trends on the pandemic’s movement.

Looking Ahead

It’s clear now that blockchain will assist private companies to re-evaluate themselves and keep afloat during the pandemic. Just the simple fact that it’s such a massive help in fighting the pandemic today implies that there is most certainly a place for it in the world of tomorrow, even after the pandemic hopefully ends.  Of course, companies looking to transfer operations into the blockchain might need help. Despite the good it brings, it can be difficult to overcome challenges such as the cost of maintaining blockchain systems, scaling data, and being patient with system development.

And there are more industries looking at blockchain to evolve.