The COVID-19 pandemic has already shown that blockchain even at an early stage of development (that is, now) could satisfy pressing global needs and provide an accelerated response in the fight against the virus.
To date, blockchain-backed solutions haven’t been widely adopted in any of the listed sectors, and currently, they are only at the beginning of the experimental stage of implementation, moving from theoretical layouts to its feature testing.
Still, there are introduced technologies that have found practical application in completely different fields and benefited a large number of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blockchain helped not only raise the standard of living for thousands of people and save their lives at a technologically new level but also allowed them to make a profit while staying at home.
Blockchain is on the guard of health
Throughout the current pandemic, many tracing systems and applications are being introduced and tested as ways to streamline and securely transfer user’s health data in real-time mode.
Adapting to rapidly changing conditions and trying to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world, many governments begin to implement tools allowing to track users to control the current location and condition of infected people. Such a system requires the collection of confidential information to understand the user’s route over the last period of time during which infection was possible, therefore, governments pay great attention to ensuring the security and confidentiality of user data received. That is why they turned to blockchain technology providing certain guarantees by decentralizing the storage of this information and keeping it only for the user.
Among the currently existing solutions, there is the Coalition application released by decentralized IoT startup Nodle that allows its users to independently report their infection, while other users automatically receive notification of possible interactions with the infected person and are offered follow-up medical care. The solution uses Bluetooth technology and cryptography to track users’ activity and generate random anonymous identifiers to protect their identity, while all data is stored locally on users’ phones.
Another company – the German tech scale-up MYNXG – has created a blockchain-based tracing solution that guarantees user privacy. One more example is Telos-based coronavirus and DNA testing application that is currently being developed by Genobank, a decentralized ecosystem for storing biomedical data. It will allow people to receive the results of anonymous tests and send them to the appropriate organizations. Another solution was introduced in the Netherlands by the Tymlez DLT firm that proposed to use blockchain to improve the supply chain of medical products to prevent a price spike.
Stay at home and get paid for social interaction
Once at home on a self-isolation, people start to look for different activities trying to ensure social interaction with the world around them. Some people even try to make money on this, since about 81% of users (of 3.3 billion people) stay at home without work during the pandemic due to the inability to perform it remotely.
To help those left without a job or access to banking services ONFO, a Stable Consensus protocol-based stable coin that fully relies on people’s social networks to develop the system as a whole. Instead of using the typical “proof of work” concept, the developers created the idea of “proof of effort” when someone earns coins by “proving” that he is a real person. Each time a real person sends information to another user (so-called “social mining”), a confirmation is sent to the system and coins are issued.
According to J.R. Forsyth, the founder of ONFO and physician, the main value of the project is to help the unbanked people worldwide to be a part of the modern economy:
“ONFO has the ability to change lives for the better and provide an improved financial path for the oppressed all over the world. Ultimately, systems like us will become the preferred currency of our increasingly interconnected global society.”
The project’s latest study showed that social mining works especially efficiently in developing countries, which is not surprising, since it is there that people have the maximum access to the Internet and the minimum to banking services and, in general, to financial instruments. So, about 80% of the population of Indonesia, the leader in social mining in the experiment, remain unbanked. Given the average annual earnings in developing countries, about ten times lower than in developed countries, it is logical that in developing countries social mining indicators were 4 times higher than in developed countries.
Way to a brighter blockchain-backed future
Blockchain technologies offer great potential in many areas affected by COVID-19, especially in healthcare and social networking. However, due to a pause in investments and prioritization of urgent expenses, the blockchain may be forced to temporarily slow down.
One way or another, thanks to the pandemic, mankind clearly saw all the advantages of the blockchain technology: confidentiality, reliability, transparency, and, therefore, investments in the blockchain are likely to recover as soon as the pandemic weakens. However, the very funding process may change, with the largest players to collaborate with many small innovative blockchain companies, as practice shows the success of such cooperation now: not only companies, but also end-users are profiting, and this is the key to any success.