Researchers turning to blockchain technology to develop resources to counteract the effects of coronavirus. Will cryptocurrency gain more fundamental value in the post-pandemic world?
Currently, there is no cure or vaccine against COVID-19. Numerous drug trials are now underway, but there will be nothing safely tested and fully ready for a widespread rollout for at least another year. Many institutions are, therefore, focusing their research on ways to mitigate the current more extensive effects of the virus, utilizing technologies such as blockchain.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a blog post detailing how they are focused on developing technology to fight not only this pandemic, but any potential future events. The CDC recognizes the value of blockchain technology when used with the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence. This combination of technology can help to track infection and recovery, as well as a safer, widespread sharing of medical information. The CDC notes that there are certainly concerns with developing such a technology-reliant approach, such as the reliability of the information, and the safety of personal information.
This period of economic instability is occurring in tandem with physical restrictions. Globally, many nations have turned to “social distancing.” In this time of required physical separation, the American government is in a race against time to create innovative measures that will allow citizens to vote online in upcoming elections safely. The traditional method of voting in person is no longer considered feasible in current circumstances, based on the risk of infection it poses for everyone involved. For this to work, election technology needs to be 100% safe, to avoid any tampering with votes or leaking of private information. Apps such as Voatz are testing their blockchain technology, which would allow users to vote on an app downloaded to their smartphones. Voters would be able to register and cast their votes, and that information would be safely and securely collected by the organization, which is responsible for counting the votes.
On a much broader level, multiple national governments are trying to reduce the use of paper money as much as possible. They are looking for alternatives that allow the economy to keep moving. Cash is a reasonable method of viral transmission, and businesses are pleading with customers to use bank cards instead of contactless payment methods as much as possible. The spreading of the virus via paper money also lends itself to the argument for investing in cryptocurrencies, which require no physical contact whatsoever. Governments are increasingly looking into the development of electronic digital cash, which would work as a national currency, but operate as a cryptocurrency. There is no need to handle assets to receive the benefits physically, and these can be moved overseas instantly, even given the current logistical issues with halted transport.
Some researchers suggest that cryptocurrencies are not necessarily the future of money, but the blockchain technology created for it is. Financial advisers point out that although widespread use of cryptocurrency is very far in the future, many societies are just a step away from mass interest in blockchains.
Digital wallet services such as PayPal and Venmo are becoming increasingly popular, and they allow users to transfer cash instantly. Combining these existing services with blockchain technology can help to make these kinds of transactions even safer.