Blockchain, by its very nature, is a global enterprise. The decentralization this technology fosters and enables reaches well beyond international frontiers. Every country in the globe can benefit from the implementation of a distributed ledger, in one form or another. But to narrow down the scope of this article, we will focus on that amalgamation of cultures and societies, that we call Europe.
This article presents five European blockchain use cases that you probably never heard of. An upcoming article will round up this blockchain decalogue.
Blockchain for healthcare and the prevention of pandemics
2020 has been a strange, tumultuous year in which the issue of healthcare has been undeniably in everyone’s mind. The ongoing pandemic, which has been raging for almost a full year, shows little signs of abating. Several vaccines are close to mass production, but their availability and long-term efficacy in suppressing and controlling Covid-19 remain to be seen.
Pandemics are nothing new, of course. Covid-19 is but the latest in a long list of viral threats that challenge the human race from time to time. It certainly won’t be the last. And if there’s one thing that the novel coronavirus pandemic has proved, it’s how woefully unprepared we were to deal with a threat of this magnitude. From the lack of a protective gear stockpile and supply chain issues, to a heavily fragmented, politicized, partisan, and unwieldy response to the virus’ onslaught. This time we -the people- have struck it lucky, in relative terms. The virus, while dangerous and lethal in some cases, carries a relatively low mortality rate that ranges from 0.6% to almost 8%, depending on socio-economic, health, age, and other factors. Had the virus borne a mortality rate of 80-90%, civilization might have crumbled over the last 12 months. (As a means of comparison, Ebola kills between 25% and 90% of those infected, depending on the strain, care provided, and other factors.)
But what if there was a way to stop an outbreak from becoming a pandemic in the first place? What if there was a technology that could handle public health emergencies in such a way that an outbreak could be pinpointed and promptly contained? This is where blockchain comes into play.
The technology can power the first line of rapid defense through a network of connected devices whose only purpose is to remain vigilant about disease outbreaks, 24/7, 365 days a year, in perpetuity. Blockchain is a highly scalable solution that works in real-time, implementing machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) routines that can gather, analyze, and collate data and instantly recommend a course of action, should an outbreak be detected. This instant response capability can represent the difference between quick containment and global contagion.
A European blockchain consulting agency is pioneering the fight against Covid-19 in the Old Continent. Europechain is a GDPR-compliant private agency that offers blockchain-as-a-service, whose Covid-19 monitoring tool for enterprise introduces a set of features specifically designed to deal with the Covid-19 situation. The Covid-19 toolset is part of Europechain’s FACT app, which addresses issues such as contact tracing, symptom tracking, customizable templates, and workflows. These solutions can be distributed among employees and communities deemed to be at risk to provide valuable, data-backed insights to prompt decisive action when most needed.
Blockchain for SME financing, social security ID number, and asylum-seeking process management
Back in May 2020, the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) added three new use cases that will be implemented through European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) in the near future: SME financing, social security ID number, and asylum-seeking process management. These use cases are part of a larger initiative to progressively digitize most public administrations throughout Europe.
Small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs) often fight an uphill battle just to survive in a trading environment usually dominated by the bigger chains. The latest statistics show that over 25m SMEs were in operation across Europe in 2018, which means these entities represent a pivotal corner in terms of supporting employment.
Yet, access to funding is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by most SMEs. Lack of adequate funding often leads to cash flow issues and business failure. To address this chronic problem, the EBSI intends to facilitate a platform for SMEs to access services supported by a consortium of private and public companies. These services will include routing of capital from private stakeholders to SMEs.
Social security ID number
Identity is a crucial aspect of civilized society. It is something that stands at the center of every interaction; from family members to public authorities, private institutions, and just about every facet of life is dominated by who we are. Yet, it is too easy to impersonate others and commit fraud.
Some blockchain companies are developing solutions based around the concept of Self-sovereign Identity (SSI), the principle that individuals themselves should retain control and management of their own identity, rather than having to rely on centralized agencies to do it for them.
The EBSI plans to roll out a European Social Security Identification Number (ESSIN) service, intended to be used by social welfare-providing agencies to analyze and collate data internationally across European Union member countries to prevent fraud. The ESSIN solution will address issues such as fraudulent claims across multiple countries using multiple identities, clerical errors, and other administrative inefficiencies.
Europechain too is planning a new addition to its range of services with My.D, a blockchain-based solution to protect personal data and identity.
Asylum seeking process management
Migrant crises are a byproduct of bitter civil wars, societal unrest, political instability, government repression, and poverty. Millions of people fleeing any of these issues often find themselves attempting perilous sea crossings or long land treks into Europe. Many unfortunately are lost on the way. Many others are intercepted and taken into camps, where they await processing. Often, these people cannot prove who they are, so asylum claims are near impossible to process effectively. A proposed use case for blockchain will expand public administrations’ capabilities to manage cross-border refugees. Using EBSI’s infrastructure, the relevant authorities will be able to digitize data that will speed up asylum claims.
Rhett Oudkerk Pool, Europechain’s Founder and CEO, has said that ‘The future of blockchain in Europe is compliant.’
Pool was referring to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) blockchain compliance, of course, something that was built into the Europechain framework from the ground up. Europe is a fragmented continent due to historical, political, and nationalist roots. The upcoming Brexit event only serves to highlight this innate division within the European Union.
But blockchain’s versatile power can become a unifying force that binds the continent together. Whether it’s one of Europechain’s services, the EBSI’s framework, or a combination of all these, plus the myriad initiatives currently underway by blockchain companies and blockchain service providers out there, the future of blockchain in Europe is certainly one of unification and information harmony.