Real Time Communications Featured Article

Real Time Communications Ready to Meet Bitcoin Blockchain

September 02, 2015

Bitcoin’s days as an independent currency replacement might be behind it, but the underlying technology used to authenticate transactions is – irony of ironies – being embraced by the financial community it was originally intended to disrupt. Real time communications (RTC) can also find value in Bitcoin’s blockchain for multimedia communications and in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Financial institutions from New York to London are examining blockchain technology to fundamentally change the way institutions exchange money and assets, including stocks, bonds, and loans.  In current practice, there’s a large array of middlemen involved in moving assets around to keep track of what moves where to whom.

Blockchain is a public and open distributed ledger accessible to all trading parties.  Bitcoin uses blockchain to track the movement of individual pieces of (virtual) currency between buyers and sellers, but Wall Street is ramping up blockchain applications to enable the trading of stocks in private companies.  NASDAQ intends to use blockchain to accelerate the process of issuing and trading shares, replacing an existing paper-based system that takes weeks to resolve trades.

In the future, NASDAQ could use blockchain in other markets to make trading faster and cheaper. Banks such as Barclays are looking at ways to apply blockchain to speed up and lower the cost of consumer payments in order to compete with credit cards and direct money transfers, bypassing Paypal and Visa as central clearing houses.  Institutional Wall Street traders are looking at blockchain to swap foreign currencies, as well as loan bundles and other types of deals.

via Shutterstock

Authentication of data is the big win in embracing blockchain, and it doesn’t have to be financial in nature. State governments are looking at blockchain tech to authenticate car sales, track ownership and authenticity of patents and documents, and even for the authenticity of evidence in court cases.

For the legal, financial, and health care communities, being able to prove the validity of voice and video discussions is essential for legal proceedings and regulatory tracking.  WebRTC phone and video discussions could, in theory, have a blockchain imprint to verify date and time of recording. 

Blockchain could also be woven into the media stream to provide verification of the entire recording, expanding the use of authenticated recording beyond legal use into the press and social/PR arena.  Every month or two, there’s another political story with a “Big Reveal” scandal.  The presenting party uses audio and video to portray the recorded party in an unflattering light, while the recorded protests that creative editing has been used to misrepresent and/or villain-ize.  A blockchain-certified recording can provide a verified record of what was said prior to any creative editing spin applied to audio or video.

WebRTC’s application to collecting data within the Internet of Things is just emerging, but IBM and several other key players believe WebRTC’s data channel provides a useful, standardized way to communicate between devices and services on a peer to peer basis.  Blockchain could be used to certify communications, making sure data isn’t faked, reporting takes place as expected, and security is maintained among and between devices within an IoT device network.

We’re still just at the beginning stages of how blockchain technology can be applied to real-time communications, but there’s a lot of potential to incorporate it to provide verifiable and more secure communications as RTC becomes more prevalent within the business world.  

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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