The Impact of COVID-19

It hardly needs stating that the impact of a global pandemic is monumental. The current situation with COVID-19 has meant nearly all of the 7.8 billion people in the world have had to make significant changes to their daily routines. Schools around the world have shut, cafes, bars and restaurants closed, gyms, leisure centres and spas are no longer in use. It really does say something about the severity of the situation if governments are actively discouraging the use of health facilities. In addition, the global economy has seemingly thundered to a halt as borders and international travel has diminished. Business meetings and deals are drying up, which has put huge strain on many industries. Stock exchanges from around the world have seen hefty losses as the world goes into quarantine. But, and it is an incredibly important but, we will continue. In the UK teachers are preparing for the possibility of 5 months without school, yet that does not mean education stops. Many are devising ways to encourage remote learning, providing ample resources to students to continue with their vitally important learning. Supermarkets are hiring 30,000 additional staff to ensure the shelves are stocked with essentials so that all people, especially the vulnerable and key workers, can continue to operate. NHS staff risk their lives daily to go into work and minimise the number of fatalities from this unprecedented virus. A global pandemic can never be described as a positive, but one thing is for certain, tough times make for tough people. Rarely has a stronger community spirit been seen, and from these struggles people begin to recognise that outdated and inefficient systems are no longer good enough.

An Updated System

Each sector is now beginning to scrutinise their operations. The police force, for example, are beginning to devise pod systems consisting of workers with different skill sets. This creates a situation where co-workers maintain minimal contact with as few different individuals as possible, thereby adhering to governmental recommendations. In the eventuality someone from a pod begins to experience symptoms, their pod must go into social isolation and another pod would take over. Effective yet simple, the system is working not just well but more efficiently than before. Although it shouldn’t be the case, extreme circumstances are often required to stimulate new working methods. Everyone is happy in their comfort zone, and in many cases change can be daunting – if it isn’t broke, why fix it? But that kind of attitude is what leads us into situations like the one we’re currently in. It is why the UK goes into meltdown every time the smallest amount of snow settles on the ground. We simply aren’t prepared for anything even slightly out of the ordinary. This is where The Proof of Trust can help. In a world reliant on working from home, remote meetings as opposed to actual meetings, communication through email, social media and by phone, how can we ensure or validate data?

The Importance of Technology

In the last 20 years or so, the internet has moved to the forefront of our lives. While there are undoubtedly downsides to the ubiquity of the technology, it has made our lives indescribably easier and in many ways safer too. We can use the internet to learn, shop and socialise; it is now our primary form of entertainment as we can watch films and sporting events through our laptops and smart TVs. But now more than ever, while it is irresponsible to meet in large groups, or make business deals face-to-face, the internet is paramount. In the current climate, we truly would be lost without the internet. The government simply could not expect people to work from home without the ability to communicate or transact virtually. Blockchain is another relatively recent technological advancement that could well enable us to continue working, despite the social restriction. A blockchain is, in simplistic terms, an immutable record of events or transactions. The transactions can be anything including financial, the verification of someone’s identity or the exchange of data and information. Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT), because of this, information is not stored in one central location, instead it is spread across an entire network of computers. The benefit is that a blockchain is incredibly difficult to hack, any information entered is effectively guaranteed to be secure. Furthermore, any transaction that happens on a public blockchain is made available for all to see, while those that occur on a permissioned blockchain are available only to those with required clearance.

The Importance of Trust

Sadly, in times of crisis there are always opportunists that are willing to use the unfortunate situation to make their own financial gains. There have been reports of fraudsters putting flyers through people’s doors promising hand sanitiser and toilet rolls at a reduced cost, but never fulfilling the promise of delivery. In an online realm how can we be sure that we trust the individuals we are conducting business with? How much does it matter that we know them and are certain they will make good on their promise? With The Proof of Trust, you no longer need to worry. Our protocol makes it all but impossible for individuals to renege on their agreement. The transparency, immutability and efficiency that blockchain affords, stands to streamline cross-border payments, strengthen supply chains and improve many governmental processes such as tax systems and voting. While blockchain is a powerfully disruptive technology, it is heavily dependent upon correct data input. If any data is even slightly misrepresentative, disagreements between parties are likely to ensue. There is currently no effective mechanism to resolve any issue or dispute on a blockchain once a transaction has been completed, this could be especially problematic when large sums of money are transferred in B2B transactions.

Smart Contracts at the Forefront of Technology

In 2019, Ikea recorded its first transfer of digital cash with the help of Tradeshift1. Just a few months later, the world’s first smart contract facilitated cross-border transfer of Euros took place on the Ethereum blockchain2. Smart contracts are no longer a novel idea with great potential, they are mainstream. In the current climate, their benefits are going to become eminently clear and they will take centre stage. The issue is that all contracts, digital or otherwise, are liable to incur disputes. Data obtained by the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) showed that on average just less that 10% of contracts end up in ‘significant’ disputes3. While smart contracts carry many benefits, there is as yet zero evidence to suggest they will be able to create a dispute free environment – occasionally parties won’t see eye to eye, regardless of how the agreement was initially formed. The Proof of Trust (TPoT) is uniquely positioned to provide that crucial assurance layer, while simultaneously providing a globally patented dispute resolution service. If and when disputes do arise, each party engaged in the smart contract will be able to resolve their issue, quickly and effectively, without the need for expensive litigation costs.

Future-Proofing Technology – Blockchain and Beyond

Whilst in the midst of this ongoing pandemic, the light at the end of the tunnel may seem some distance away. As everyone is forced to stay in their homes, we at The Proof of Trust are considering how our unique protocol can facilitate the continuation of vital operations. Our protocol was devised alongside our partners at IBM with blockchain in mind, as we recognise the significant role that this technology is having across all sectors. The globally patented technology behind our unique arbitration service is extraordinarily adaptable, and is by no means limited to a blockchain environment. Any dispute on any platform can be resolved through our trust protocol, while our anti-collusion algorithm always ensures fair, unbiased adjudication. While there is no quick fix, or magic solution to every problem, here are several characteristics that soften the impact of a global pandemic:

1. Data can be verified, anywhere in the world, and specifically requires Delegates not to begin communication – ideal in a climate where social interaction is to be discouraged.

2. Our distributed consensus protocol can help our health care systems to complete essential checks, such as the number of people tested for a virus – something that may be imminent in certain regions.

3. In times of hardship, the distribution of aid is vital for many societies to survive. The Proof of Trust can be used to verify the amount of aid and welfare particular nations have received and Delegates can be used to ensure that aid distribution is fair.

An Off-Line Data Storage

It is well documented that data is paramount to all industries. The Proof of Trust exist to ensure that all data that passes through our protocol is accurate, reliable and verified. Through our unique algorithm, we are able to provide assurance to any type of data, via independent adjudication from multiple Delegates. While blockchain is a marvellous way to protect verified data, it remains in its infancy. Data storage is however crucial to every single sector, and secure storage of that data is just as vital. Cloud storage has become increasingly popular in recent years as in it is often a more cost effective method of data storage. The Proof of Trust can provide both the verification as well as the storage in one package, so that companies using our technology could be sure that not only is the data valid, it is safely and securely recorded on or off a blockchain.

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