Digitization is the process of creating a digital representation of an asset. You can read more about that in our earlier post here.
Blockchain technologies are well suited to be the system of record for these digital representations. They have the potential to improve asset security, efficiency of the processes involving the asset, and trust among the parties using the asset.
The blockchain structure can be thought of as entries in a book (or ledger). Each entry represents a transaction which includes creating, modifying, and destroying the digital representation. Due to the structure of a blockchain, an entry itself cannot be altered or removed. The only way to modify the state of an asset is through a new transaction. With this additional security, users of the blockchain are more inclined to trust the authenticity of the data on the ledger.
If you imagine that the entries in the ledger are about an asset (perhaps medical records) being shared or exchanged between two parties, then you can use the ledger to understand who has modified or transferred which assets. This provides built-in trust to the system due to the transparent nature of how the ledger stores data. A third-party auditor could easily look at the ledger and follow the flow of data to construct a timeline of which parties own or have edited which assets. This transparency will help to reduce fraud and eliminate disputes arising from two parties having differing information.
Another feature of blockchain data storage is that the ledger can be held in multiple locations. This way, the data is no longer siloed in one location, so it is more secure from cyberattacks that attempt to hold the data hostage until a ransom is paid or corrupt it in some way.
With this inherent trust between users of the blockchain system, the concept of programmable logic called smart contracts can be introduced. In the blockchain system, these smart contracts can be written in such a way that they automatically execute when certain conditions are met. For example, let us assume the asset is an eBook where Party A (Alice) owns the book and Party B (Bob) would like to purchase it. Alice has set a price of $20 for the book. Bob enters his payment information and creates an order to purchase the book up to a price of $50. Once the blockchain system recognizes that the book is available for purchase and someone has agreed to buy it for that price, the smart contract is automatically triggered and purchases the book for Bob from Alice for $20. The power of smart contracts is that they significantly improve efficiency. They can automate many of the processes, if not all, involving an asset.
Blockchain technologies enhance asset security, improve the efficiency of the transactions involving the asset, and increase trust among the involved parties. Blockchain may not be suited for all digitization efforts but is worth exploring and testing as a path for achieving digitization.