What is Blockchain?
My “explain to a 12 year old” Definition
Before I share different use cases of how blockchain can impact the future of the Philippines, allow me to give a simple definition of what it is.
The most common definition online is “blockchain is a distributed, decentralized, public ledger.”
To make it easier to understand, imagine blockchain as a log book of every transaction you make.
Whenever you do something, it automatically records everything in the log book such as:
- When, where, and how much your transaction cost
- Who did the transaction (can use a username over your real name)
Each transaction is saved on a page in your log book with each page assigned something unique so all new transactions can be told apart.
Lastly, what’s written inside this log book cannot be removed, changed, or modified in any way.
Based on the example above, each page is a block and the collection of these pages make up a log book or a blockchain.
Use Cases of Blockchain in the Philippines
One of the main benefits of blockchain technology is that it offers pure transparency.
As soon as data enters on a blockchain, it can’t ever be altered and the transaction history is available to the public.
With this in mind, here’s a couple of areas where I believe blockchain transparency can make a lasting impact in the Philippines.
What if you knew where every centavo of your hard earned tax money goes?
What if there was a way to keep political leaders accountable from the promises that they have made?
What if you can track what charities are doing with your donations?
With blockchain, your “what ifs” might just come true.
Seeing that blockchain works as a public ledger, any Filipino can access government files and know where their taxes are going, how political leaders are using budgets for projects, and what your local charity did with your donations.
This will surely keep our government accountable and improve overall trust of society.
Another sector in the Philippines where blockchain transparency can make a difference is in the food we eat.
Imagine being able to trace where the meat in your adobo or the fish in your sinigang came from.
Blockchain technology gives you the ability to monitor the entire food supply chain – from which farm raised the pig up to how it was processed into meat.
By being able to look into the supply chain, you would then be able to accurately track the quantity of the ingredients you are buying down to the last bean.
So if rice vendors happen to sell you expensive rice mixed with low quality rice, you would be able to find out.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important benefit we can get from using blockchain in Philippine agriculture is knowing the conditions of the food we are buying.
You’ll be able to identify valuable data such as the type of fertilizer used in your vegetables and how your meat was fed.
Having this technology available can make a huge improvement in our food safety.
II. Remittance Fees
OFW’s & Seafarers
In 2018, Filipinos from around the world have accumulated $32.21 billion in remittances.
That number continues to rise and that comes as no surprise.
I’m going to take a guess that you have a relative working as an OFW or a seafarer somewhere around the world.
And that relative has at one point or another sent money through a remittance company. This is a common cycle in Filipino families.
So what’s the issue?
Remittance is one of the hottest areas blockchain companies are currently aiming to solve because of the ridiculous amounts of fees that happen in a single remittance transaction.
1. Transfer Fee – Fees depend on which remittance center you are using. Some charge a flat fee while others have a percentage fee based on the amount you are sending.
2. Exchange Rate Spread – Asides from the fee, remittance centers also have a spread on the exchange rate of around 1 to 2 percent.
3. Clearing Time – Transfers can also take some time to clear which typically takes around 2 – 4 days.
There are already a lot of blockchain companies focusing on these issues all having the common goal of lowering costs and having instant payments/payouts – making the remittance process easier for both parties.
III. IoT (Internet of Things)
“The Internet of things (IoT) is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects.” – Wikipedia
With great technology, comes great responsibility.
Blockchain combined with IoT has the potential to make all your fantasies of the future come true.
The following are examples of what the future can look like with the power of blockchain-enabled IoT.
Trash piling up in your barangay.
Leaky plumbing pipes in your subdivision.
Broken utility poles in your city.
These are just some of the common problems we are facing in society today.
In a blockchain-enabled IoT future, these infrastructures can be monitored and fixed faster by them alerting whoever is in charge about the problem right away.
A dumpster can send an alert that it needs it’s trash picked up.
Plumbing pipes will inform plumbers in real time where the leak is happening making their job easier.
Utility poles will send their location upon breaking so they can get fixed ASAP.
Going back to the agriculture industry, there are even more ways to disrupt it with blockchain-enabled IoT.
You will have the ability to gather valuable data & analytics on your soil, crops, trees, animals, and equipment.
For your animals, data such as their health history would be useful – diseases acquired, medication received, and food intake.
For your soil & crops, you’d be able to monitor their growth accurately and then implement automated harvesting.
// Imagine an artificial hip or knee that monitors itself, sends anonymized performance data to the manufacturer for design improvements, and communicates with a patient’s physician, “Time to replace me.”
“New smart drugs could track themselves in clinical trials and present evidence of their effectiveness and side effects without risk of modified results.” //
Excerpt From: Tapscott, Don. “Blockchain Revolution.”
These are just a couple of examples of what’s in store for the health care industry in a blockchain future.
Future of Blockchain in the Philippines
There are already blockchain startups in the Philippines and around the world working hard to innovate and make the use cases above possible.
While some are purely ideas and fantasies for now, there is definitely a bright future ahead for blockchain technology in the Philippines.