I have often wondered―without break―how the concept and importance of blockchain can be explained to a layman, how the use cases can be generalized to the level of understanding of all men regardless of their level of technical understanding. As a result, I understand a great way to explain will be to start with the existing uses and how it’s applied. This, for instance, includes how blockchain has been applied recently in areas such as energy, transportation, healthcare, waste management, music, real estate, tourism and so on. Now, how do they all utilize the blockchain?
Information is said to be important in decision-making and problem-solving. Without the right information, organizations are bound to make mistakes in these key processes. In a previous article, I briefly explained blockchain to be “a public ledger in which peer-to-peer transactions are stored securely using cryptography in a verifiable and permanent way creating endless chains of data blocks that can’t be tampered with.” But let’s break it down even more.
Imagine this: In an open space, there are numerous persons with different, and likely unknown, identities taking record of a continuous transfer of a single apple between another set of individuals. The record keepers then get rewarded with apples for keeping the records intact and safe from altering and also making it public for all to see. At any time, everyone knows where the apple is and altering one of the records only makes the record invalid and doesn’t affect the rest of the recorded transfers/transactions. This is a brief description of the blockchain and what it’s used for.
Cryptography, being an important factor behind the blockchain technology, enables digital identity to be established using private and public keys. We may liken the private key to a password and the public key to a username with which one can be publicly identified. The blockchain as established earlier also provides a perfect system of record for information be it static in form of registry or dynamic in form of transactions, registration and distribution. These data are recorded in an array sequence to one another, so altering one data will require altering all the historical records on every single node, which makes it immutable. The last of blockchain attributes is its purpose as a platform for cryptocurrency and smart contracts―another deep but important topic.
Now that we have been able to clear the path a little, we may forge ahead to the next and major reason for this article. How can the blockchain and its attributes be utilized in the battle against corruption? Today we see a lot of blockchain companies, with lots of ideas but most never cross the boundary of being just another currency in the market. It’s a shame that investors, and traders alike, presently see exchange listings as a major reason to buy and pump the price of a worthless project. So, once again let us ring the bell and sound the alarm so they may wake up from their induced hypnosis. The focus and energy should be diverted to real projects with real use cases. Who says one cannot make profit and build a better world at the same time?
According to recent research, some developing countries, such as Chile and Botswana, exhibit lower levels of corruption than some fully industrialized nations. And countries like Colombia and Liberia have made gains in recent years, while others such as Zimbabwe have deteriorated. Bribery remains rife in many countries, totaling about $1 trillion globally every year.
It will be wrong to assume that corruption is unique to developing countries alone or that it has declined on average. Rather, it is a constantly growing weed in our farms, limiting productivity in every country, on a global scale. Truthfully, the anti-corruption war is heavily integrated into the systems of most countries and it’s been known to be relatively effective. Nevertheless, it remains a never-ending war where there is no losing side.
The prevalence of corruption can be well attributed to a few factors, but most importantly the lack of effective monitoring and weak accounting information system. In other words, to fight corruption, we need an effective incorruptible information management system. We need the BLOCKCHAIN.
Let’s look, for example, into the features on the Ardor blockchain that can help eradicate the existence of corruption focusing on the Internal Generated Revenue section, simply by keeping records and tracks of information and transactions. Lest I forget, I believe it is generally known that the essence of Cryptocurrency is that they will one day replace the FIAT. As it’s already difficult to control double-spending in paper currency and printing of new ones into the circulation, initiating a token distribution will be the first step in this.
Cryptocurrency have several advantages over the paper currency, part of which include its ability to cut out the middle man as transactions take place on a peer-to-peer networking structure. It is also possible to add some conditions to determine when to or not to execute the transaction, which may not be trusted to a third party. Also aside from the possibility of confidential transactions, all enormous unrealistic bank charges can be avoided. It gives you greater access to your funds and makes international trade easier and so on. But this is not why we are here. So, once the coin has been established usually through an ICO, what’s next?
The first feature of the blockchain used here is “the platform” enabling a currency to be generated on a functional blockchain. The “Monetary System” feature on Ardor allows users to create new decentralized currencies backed by the security of an existing blockchain without going through the trouble of bootstrapping the currency with its own blockchain and network, thereby removing the major impediment faced by most other blockchain platforms. Even better, this can be achieved in less than five minutes. So, the new currency created will be the only currency tenderable for all the government-related transactions on the IGR lists. And of course, this is not a currency that is given from one hand to the other, it goes from the payer to the blockchain, then to the receiver. Haha! Steal it if you can!
If funds can’t be stolen before they are credited to the government wallet, can they be stolen from the wallet? Well, there are only two sets of people who would be interested in knowing the answer to this: the ones who want to ensure the funds are safe and the ones who want to embezzle them. The former will be glad to know that there is a mechanism in place to ensure theft is 100% impossible. The Ardor client offers additional security which can be seen under the Phasing feature for the ‘Account Control’.
These features present many interesting account usage scenarios, including: multi-signature account; tagging an account as a “savings” account which prevents it from sending out transaction; using a locked account as an “escrow” account; limiting the account’s ability to transfer assets, aliases etc. So, you can rest assured your funds are safe and only leave the wallet when the right and trusted persons want it to.
There is more to the transaction phasing than what can be covered in a single article. The point is this basically solves the problem as all transactions are recorded and kept secured for eternity, pruned when needed but always remaining intact. But then, blockchain is much more than just this. There are other features that will make good governance a walk in the park. Not only that, the package also comes with the greatest level of transparency you can get. Shall we talk about the voting feature and use of the lightweight contracts in governance?
Satisfying the true meaning of democracy as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, letting the people decide which project they need the most may just be the way to go. Even better, it’s easier provided a transparent method of governance is to be selected. The Ardor client offers a feature called “Voting”. This is a feature that empowers any account with the ability to create a poll with up to 100 voting options. It also comes with many features of the standard voting exercise and more. The entire process and the results are made transparent and immutable.
As stated earlier as one of the advantages of cryptocurrency, “it is also possible to add some conditions to determine when to or not to execute the transaction, which may be trusted to a third party…” This is possible through contracts. Ardor offers the ability to do many unimaginable things on the blockchain using ‘Lightweight Contracts’ which are of course smarter than the popular ‘Smart Contracts’. So, funds can be shared, stored, transferred based on conditions between various accounts without necessary intervention of human activities. Say, for example:
1. The Expenditure account must have a minimum amount, below which it should be topped from the savings. Or:
2. Certain funds are required to stay in the escrow wallet until the whole of the area have made full payment before transferring to the government savings. Maybe:
3. The government wants to reward the region which makes the full monthly payment of the collected IGR with a certain percentage of the funds if released from the escrow account on or before a certain day.
4. Perhaps, a contract for development is to be awarded and payment is to be sent upon the outcome of voting, then if the voting criteria is met, the funds are to automatically be transferred to the contractor’s wallet. All these and many more conditions can be integrated without a third party’s intervention using a “Lightweight Contract” on Ardor.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible on the platform. Ardor represents the true nature of blockchain technology providing the promised decentralization investors have longed for since the emergence of blockchain. With Ardor, the limits aren’t measured with the sky as starting point. It’s an ocean of clouds, and beyond the clouds is a vast endless space of possibilities and that’s where to look. Once again, dear investors, It is time to face the facts. Any other direction cannot lead to the future we long for.