A shot in the arm for Blockchain

3 minute read

11 May 2021

By Peter Springett

Head of Content, Upstart

Are you ready for Blockchain? As vaccine passports gather momentum, we look at how distributed ledgers are helping societies return to normal, and the lessons this has for your business.


Blockchain is here. From financial services to manufacturing supply chains and electoral registers, it is now the go-to technology for a fast-growing number of transaction-based systems. The figures speak for themselves. By the end of 2028, the blockchain market is expected to grow to $390bn. Some 24% of companies say that they will invest between $5m and $10m in Blockchain in 2021.

So What?

Why invest in the technology now? Blockchain touches a nerve at a time when personal information and privacy are under greater scrutiny than ever. There’s a mounting sense of unease with the way that tech giants gather and monetize our data. Blockchain’s decentralized model addresses some of those concerns, offering citizens greater ownership of their data, while providing additional transparency and security over the handling of that information. 

For this reason, healthcare is one sector where interest in Blockchain is gathering momentum with spending expected to reach $5.6bn by 2025.  Here, Blockchain is in the spotlight as governments rush to deliver tamper-proof Covid-19 vaccine passports powered by decentralized ledgers.  

In South Korea, the government has announced a new mobile app that will enable citizens to register for proof of vaccination and return to normality in their daily lives. Many other countries and international blocks, including China, Israel and the European Union have also launched or announced similar schemes.

It’s easy to see why so many states are making Blockchain the foundation of their passport initiatives. First of all, it is relatively straightforward to build an app that enables healthcare providers to enter citizen vaccination details into the distributed ledger. Once registered, the individual receives a printed smart card, secure label or digital certificate for their smartphone that displays a barcode or QR code. 

Critically, the card and the app never display the name of the citizen, date of vaccination, type of vaccine, batch number and so on.  When a shopkeeper, waiter or customs officer scans the code from an app on their smartphone, it simply confirms that the holder has been vaccinated against Covid-19, although permission settings can be adjusted to include more of the encoded data.

So Now What?

What can we learn from the vaccine passport roll out? There are four key lessons that any business can apply to a Blockchain powered service.

1. Make it simple to understand: Contrary to popular belief, the principles of Blockchain, especially the concepts of decentralized networks and validation are easy to explain, if you use the right language.

2. Focus on utility: Vaccine passports will gain acceptance if governments can convince people that it will enable them to escape lockdown and social distancing measures sooner. What are the real-life benefits to your customers or business partners?

3. Put trust at the center of your pitch: It’s important to stress how the shared consensus foundations of Blockchain can restore confidence in healthcare, e-retail, elections or any process where personal or business data is shared with another party.

4. Ease of use is everything: Ensure that the user experience is as smooth and seamless as possible. Make sure it addresses the needs of your demographic whether they own the latest smartphone or prefer a physical object, such as a smart card, to participate.

A final thought. Blockchain is as widely used today as the internet in 1995* (approximately 0.8% of the global population). The same year, Amazon was just one year old, and Bill Gates sent his famous memo calling the internet a ‘tidal wave…that changes the rules.’ The message? If you want to get a head start during the Blockchain revolution, you need to get on board now.  

At Upstart we can give you quick answers that show how Blockchain is relevant to your business, its partners and your customers, and how to get an early proof of concept off of the ground. Get in touch with us today.  

*1995 global population 5.7 billion, 44.4 million internet users; 2021 global population 7.9 billion, 68 million blockchain users

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