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Blockchain: From bitcoin to commercial contracts to . . .

 
September 2, 2016

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. Buckminster Fuller

 

When bitcoin, invented by Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) in 2008, started to be viewed as real, the underlying blockchain technology that made it possible became part of the common vernacular.

So, other than being used as the publicledgerfor bitcoin transactions, how else will blockchain impact our lives? Here are a few thoughts on that subject.

Blockchain can make commercial contracts programmatic, triggered by predefined events and conditions. One result may be machines that buy and sell like people.

Imagine the following scenario: Currently, smart meters are used to record and report energy consumption. In the future, a blockchain-enabled utility market could allow customers to authorize those meters to buy electricity, and even switch providers automatically based on predefined terms. For their part, utility companies could then sell electricity to the highest bidderswhether they are machines or people.

In a banking context, a customer could be connected to a block-chain enabled eco-system made up of a bank’s partner providers. The customer could define their short and long term financial goals and have automatic payments set-up using pre-defined terms for when to switch services or providers. If the customers devices are set up to provide data to the eco-system, a use case like this becomes possible

A telecom scenario could look like this. Lets say a customer is paying $120 a month for an unlimited voice, text and data plan on their cell phone. For the last 3 months they have only used 3GB of data per month. The switch conditions can be set up so if the current plan does not support the usage pattern, the system will change to a more cost effective plan automatically. The customer will see the changes in their monthly expenses and the impact those savings have on helping them reach their short and long term financial goals. In this scenario, multiple mobile service providers are part of the eco-system and the switches back and forth are happening automatically based on the terms defined and enforced in the block-chain contract. Such pre-defined terms can be set up for all services that the customers use. In this scenario, the bank monetizes the data brokerage between the customer and the block-chain enabled eco-system.

The analytics potential blockchain technology provides can be huge too. If providers are able to anticipate when they may lose a customer to a competitor based on the switch contract terms, they are better able to anticipate and manage churn. Instead of enforcing long term service agreements, providers can provide flexible, metered solutions to best meet the needs of their customer base. Marketing budgets can be significantly streamlined as well. The switch contract terms set up by customers provide direct insights into their needs and these insights can be used to generate highly relevant offers and actions.

The new opportunities blockchain technology make possible are just starting to emerge. This will be a truly exciting phenomenon to watch.

Gargi is the Solution Architect for Customer Intelligence & Insights at TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group. She has 18 years of experience focused on utilizing technology and information assets to solve complex business problems while managing costs, risks and change. Gargi is passionate about building a data driven culture in organizations; enabling clients to optimize their own performance and transform the experience of the customer they serve. Prior to joining TCS, she has consulted on analytics strategy and Lean BI implementation with clients in diverse domains including but not limited to banking and financial services, healthcare, retail, telecommunications and logistics. Gargi has a degree in Electronics Engineering with Six Sigma training and a CBIP certification.