Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are promising alternatives to traditional currency, centralized banking and transaction methods. The technology is transforming the way we manage financial transactions while also being implemented in various other applications in different industry segments across the globe. To put it simply, blockchain is a distributed ledger that records each and every transaction made on each network it is distributed over. This creates a network that is virtually impossible to hack or tamper with, providing reliable security and changing the way financial transactions are conducted.

Blockchain has the potential to change the way business functions and can even be used to improve business workflows by using the five factors outlined below:

1. Smart Contracts
Smart contracts function exactly as they are programmed to and are not affected by the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. Such programs are self-automated and capable of executing the exact terms outlined in a contract. Simply put, it is financial security held in reserve on the network that is transferred to people according to future events and computer algorithms. Businesses can utilize smart contracts to bypass regulations and lower the cost of some of the most commonly used financial transactions made by the business. A key aspect of these contracts is that they are unbreakable once created.

2. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is another application businesses all over the world are trying to leverage. There are several applications currently in development that offer secure cloud storage services while decreasing dependency on physical servers and hard drives. When we consider the shift to and spending is currently done on cloud storage alone, it can be a new revenue stream for average users, while considerably decreasing the cost to store data for businesses and personal users. Such benefits make it easy to realize why cloud storage is quickly becoming an enticing option for businesses.

3. Supply-Chain Communications & Proof-of-Provenance
Most of the things we purchase are not made by a single entity, but rather by a chain of suppliers that sell their components to a company that pieces several parts together and markets the final product. The issue with this system is that if any of these components malfunction, the brand is ultimately targeted in its backlash. Using blockchain technology would change that however and would provide digitally permanent, audit-able records that outline to stakeholders exactly the condition of the product at all the different stages of its development.

4. Paying Employees
As blockchain has its groundwork laid in cryptocurrency, it stands to reason that it would be utilized as an application to compensate employees. For instance, if a business regularly employs international workers, then implementing bitcoin into their payroll process might be a major cost saver.

Applications like Bitwage, which is one of the first Bitcoin-based payroll services in the world, bypass the expensive fees leveraged on transferring money internationally. It also reduces the time taken for such funds to move from bank to bank, saving both time and money for employees and employers alike. Using the public ledger, they can even monitor exactly where the money is throughout the process.

5. Electronic Voting
Bitshares is a type of globally distributed database that states Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS) is one of the quickest, most efficient, decentralized and flexible consensus models currently available.

DPOS leverages the power stakeholders have over approval voting to rectify consensus issues in an impartial and democratic way. All network parameters including fee schedules to block intervals and transaction sizes can be tuned by elected delegates. Accurately defined selection of block producers facilitates rapid transactions that are confirmed in just 1 second on average. Most importantly, the consensus protocol is developed with the intention of protecting all participants against unwanted regulatory interference. As a result, it can be used in electronic voting machines to ensure fair, impartial and accurate outcomes.