‘Ethereum for Business’ explains key use cases

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The cryptocurrency market has encountered its share of ups and downs over the past year, but blockchain technology continues to see impressive growth as businesses seek digital transformation. 

Recent findings from the market research platform, MarketsandMarkets, estimated the global blockchain market size to be $7.4 billion in 2022. While notable, the report indicates that the blockchain sector is expected to generate $94 billion in revenue by the end of 2027. If these findings are accurate, this will result in a compound annual growth rate of 66% from 2022 to 2027.

Breaking down ‘Ethereum for Business’

Specifically speaking, many enterprises today are using the Ethereum blockchain to improve outdated business processes. Paul Brody, global blockchain leader for Ernst & Young (EY), told Cointelegraph that he believes the Ethereum network will drive the most growth for the enterprise blockchain market going forward.

To bring this to light, Brody recently published Ethereum for Business. According to Brody, this book intends to help non-technical, C-level executives and company leaders understand how and why Ethereum applies to specific use cases.

Book cover. Source: University of Arkansas Press

To ease readers into the subject matter, Brody begins part one of the book by explaining how Ethereum works using relatable language. “There are three foundational concepts that are useful to understand — the distributed ledger, the programmable ledger, and consensus algorithm,” he writes. Brody then explains that every “financial system has a ledger,” but notes that the difference between centralized, traditional systems and Ethereum is that “Ethereum’s ledger is public and distributed to all participants.”

The first chapter also explains the terminology associated with blockchain networks. Brody writes that “batches of transactions are known as ‘blocks.’” He ends the chapter by mentioning that the Ethereum network is often attractive to business users because it offers the “convenience of an integrated digital business” without a centralized market operator.

Before going in-depth on specific use cases, Brody spends the next few chapters of the book detailing terminology like wallets, tokens and smart contracts. For instance, in chapter four, he writes:

“In Ethereum, both the money and the stuff can be represented as tokens, while the terms of the exchange between two parties can be captured in a smart contract.”

Brody adds that everything of value is stored in a wallet when using the Ethereum blockchain: “Wallets are just a name for a digital account where you can store your keys and the access rights to contacts and assets you control through those keys.”

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Chapter five focuses on oracles; as Brody mentions, “enterprise transactions will require extensive use of oracles” since external data sources will be essential for completing smart contracts for business purposes.

The information presented at the beginning of Brody’s book is extremely useful for readers that may be new to the blockchain sector. The following chapters focus on concepts like privacy, which is a crucial consideration for enterprises leveraging blockchain. 

In chapter six, Brody writes, “Though enterprises require privacy, blockchains do not, by default, offer privacy.” Given this, Brody focuses this section on privacy applications that can be applied to support enterprise transactions. Although Brody mentions at the beginning of the book that the read is not meant to promote EY’s blockchain work, he does detail how Nightfall and Starlight — two privacy mechanisms created by EY — are used by businesses to ensure private blockchain transactions.

Real-world enterprise Ethereum use cases

Part two of Brody’s book focuses on use cases and case studies. This section is probably the most interesting because it explains why the technology could be helpful for business processes.

Tokenization is heavily discussed in section two, with Brody writing that it is “the single most important thing enterprises can do in the blockchain space.” He adds that tokenization is often the first decision that firms using blockchain make since this can be used to digitize assets that can be easily tracked and managed.

Although Brody explains the difference between ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens, he emphasizes that the ERC-1155 standard is gaining traction among enterprises due to its blend of fungible and nonfungible properties. Brody shares that an EY client in the pharmaceutical industry is currently using ERC-1155 tokens to track serialized medicine packages. “Using the 1155 standard, this firm can mint large volumes of tokens and transfer them in big batches to distributors and others,” he writes.

Brody continues sharing real-world examples of how EY clients apply the Ethereum blockchain. For instance, he explains how Italian beer producer Peroni uses blockchain for traceability, allowing consumers to scan a QR code to understand how the beer was produced.

“Those looking at a beer non-fungible token (NFT) from Peroni on the Polygon PoS chain (an Ethereum side chain), will be able to see Peroni’s final batch token as well as input tokens from the malt house and farms,” writes Brody.

In addition to these use cases, Brody details how blockchain helps with supply chain management, contract management, carbon emission tracking, payments and more. He emphasizes in this section that “Blockchains will do for business ecosystems what ERP [enterprise resource planning] did inside the single enterprise.”

‘Ethereum for Business’ is educational, but blockchain is broad

While Ethereum for Business provides an in-depth and clear view of enterprise Ethereum, readers should remember that the blockchain ecosystem is broad. There are a number of different blockchain networks that businesses can use aside from Ethereum.

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Yet it’s notable that Brody’s new book gives an in-depth overview of the Ethereum ecosystem, breaking down key concepts while providing real-world use cases. This is extremely important, as education around blockchain technology is still needed to drive mainstream adoption.