“QR codes are a fad”, read the headline of an article published in the Fall of 2012. A few years later, the overhyped technology was included in a list of “Biggest Tech Fads of the Last Decade”. But then COVID happened, and now QR codes are widely used. Today, blockchain technology needs its own “Covid” moment.
PwC projected in 2020 nearly every business would adopt blockchain by 2025 and it would boost global GDP by US$1.76 trillion by 2030. Many analysts made similar predictions beginning around 2017. Yet today, blockchain products are not nearly as used as had been predicted. Some even consider them a fad, noting that many of its intended use cases have not materialized. But PwC’s trillion-dollar prediction can come true. Blockchain development is complex, and companies lack the tools to make it simpler. One product businesses need is a simple and inexpensive tool to get their data onto smart contracts. Gora is that product. It helps businesses process data from sensors or APIs and connect it to blockchain smart contracts.
The benefits of smart contracts come from the fact that the rules are clearly visible, and transfer of information or assets are immediate. A customer purchasing flight delay insurance through smart contracts can be confident that they will be paid out minutes after they become eligible. But smart contracts lack access to data external to the blockchain, limiting their benefits. If smart contracts do not have access to flight departure times, such a flight insurance app cannot be created.
Key Use Cases
Blockchains are currently well suited for financial and identity products, like transferring digital assets or issuing and verifying credentials. However, blockchains can be used to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems like climate change.
Around 50,000 businesses in the EU will need to begin reporting verifiable data on their emissions starting 2024. Businesses can comply by using IoT devices and sensors to collect real-time emissions data. Gora helps to create verifiable records of this gathered information on a blockchain.
Blockchains can also give consumers more bargaining power and privacy. Europe and North America are expected to reach 84.5 million telematic insurance policies by year end 2025. Telematic insurance is where insurance companies price policies based on a driver’s behavior, as measured by the sensors in their cars. But these policies require a driver to use intrusive devices that provide an insurer with information about where a driver goes and when.
Only 25% of drivers are willing to use the technology if it would save them money. Gora can preserve a driver’s privacy by exposing only the insights the insurer needs to make pricing decisions, not the data itself. This gives ownership of a user’s driving history to the driver, allowing them to use the data with any provider. Data ownership has positive side effects. Drivers can now improve their car’s resale value, or help local governments improve city planning.
Blockchain products can improve many billion-dollar industries. They can prevent food waste by helping verify the cold chain. They can ensure high quality of harvest through crop monitoring systems. Adoption of blockchain is not a use-case problem, but rather an infrastructure problem. Sensors generate large amounts of data, most of it confidential. Intermediary software like Gora has the trust properties of the blockchain, while having the privacy preserving properties of company owned servers.
Are smart contracts necessary?
Businesses already have software doing much of the above; so, are blockchain and smart contracts necessary? A regular database is enough if the data is for internal use, like the amount inventory in stock. Blockchain is also unnecessary if data can only be verified through traditional audits, such as public financial statements. Blockchain products can be a perfect tool when organizations need greater trust in the accuracy of the data they share externally from a verifiable source.
Policy makers are struggling to create rules that protect consumers and the planet, without affecting companies’ profitability. 64% of German CEOs did not believe government regulations have “increased consumer trust while maintaining business competitiveness”. VW has sophisticated reporting hardware and software in their vehicles, yet they still lied about how much nitrous oxide its vehicles were emitting. If sensors were reporting the emissions to blockchain while the vehicles were in use, VW would have either avoided the deception or been exposed immediately.
Policies around data protection in the EU have media companies there facing an existential dilemma: make users pay for their service or show non-targeted ads. The former makes most users stop using the service, while the latter significantly reduces operating revenues. Many companies, like Meta (formerly Facebook) are getting around this by offering consumers the option to either pay a monthly fee or accept personalized ads. People who accept seeing personalized ads must consent to having their personal information collected. But the European Center for Digital rights says this is still wrong, and has lodged complaints against several media companies. But there can be another option — using Gora to anonymize a user’s personal data and give marketers only the topics users would like to see ads about.
Infrastructure is falling short
Software that connects smart contracts to real world data is expensive to build. It needs to be as secure as blockchains but handle much more data and computations than blockchains are capable of. This requires hiring people skilled in cryptography and distributed systems engineering and then spending months, if not years, in development. Instead, businesses can purchase existing solutions more than ten times cheaper and faster than building their own.
However, businesses are finding that current products are too specialized for their needs. Most products only provide financial data like currency exchange rates, or need so many customizations that the business may as well develop their own solution. Gora focuses on enterprise needs by:
- exposing APIs for businesses to integrate their data sources with
- providing an App Marketplace for businesses to find already developed products, and
- allowing companies to have private networks and control who can access data.
Blockchain products should integrate into a businesses’ current software systems, rather than replace them. Gora provides a marketplace for developers with industry specific knowledge to sell premade products, such as insurance or emissions monitoring apps that integrate with companies’ ERP systems. Finally, Gora gives enterprises the ability to self-host private networks while accessing personalized, on demand support.
Blockchain adoption has not happened as fast as had been predicted. Businesses trying to use it have been bogged down by its complexity. But Gora does not just simplify smart contract development. It lets businesses build advanced use cases like running algorithms on data, in a trusted, third-party environment while preserving privacy. Gora will be an important tool to help blockchain contribute trillions of dollars of value to global GDP.