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For this study, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review to answer complex questions about the field of blockchain technology. We used an unbiased systematic review process to find works on blockchain-based applications and developed a Python code that searched various online databases. This paper provides an overview of the characteristics, mode of operation, and applications of blockchains in various domains such as transportation, commerce and industry, privacy and security, the financial sector, government, education, healthcare, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The aim was to identify the key research themes addressed in existing articles within each application domain and suggest future research directions for these domains. We analyzed a set of 750 articles published between 2015 and 2021 that dealt with blockchain applications. We found that financial management and security issues have been the main research focus since 2015. However, the use of blockchain in education has become a central research theme in 2021. Healthcare, IoT, and government applications have also grown in popularity. We furthermore analyzed some of the implementations of privacy mechanisms, as well as the challenges and future directions that need to be addressed for effective blockchain deployment. This study contributes to existing research by providing a comprehensive overview of blockchain application themes and their emerging areas for stakeholders in diverse sectors.
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Received May 4, 2022, accepted May 25, 2022, date of publication June 2, 2022, date of current version June 8, 2022.
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3179690
A Systematic Review of Blockchain Applications
FARHANA AKTER SUNNY 1, PETR HAJEK 2, MICHAL MUNK 2,3,
MOHAMMAD ZOYNUL ABEDIN 4, MD. SHAHRIARE SATU 5,
MD. IFTEKHARUL ALAM EFAT6, (Member, IEEE),
AND MD. JAHIDUL ISLAM1
1Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Green University of Bangladesh, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh
2Science and Research Centre, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Pardubice, 532 10 Pardubice, Czech Republic
3Department of Computer Science, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, 949 74 Nitra, Slovakia
4Department of Finance, Performance and Marketing, Teesside University International Business School, Teesside University, Middlesbrough TS1 3BX, U.K.
5Department of Management Information Systems, Noakhali Science and Technology University, Noakhali 3814, Bangladesh
6Institute of Information Technology, Noakhali Science and Technology University, Noakhali 3814, Bangladesh
Corresponding author: Mohammad Zoynul Abedin (m.abedin@tees.ac.uk)
This work was supported in part by the scientific Research Project of the Czech Sciences Foundation under Grant 19-15498S, and in part
by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) under
Contract VEGA-1/0821/21.
ABSTRACT For this study, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review to answer complex
questions about the field of blockchain technology. We used an unbiased systematic review process to
find works on blockchain-based applications and developed a Python code that searched various online
databases. This paper provides an overview of the characteristics, mode of operation, and applications of
blockchains in various domains such as transportation, commerce and industry, privacy and security, the
financial sector, government, education, healthcare, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The aim was to identify
the key research themes addressed in existing articles within each application domain and suggest future
research directions for these domains. We analyzed a set of 750 articles published between 2015 and 2021 that
dealt with blockchain applications. We found that financial management and security issues have been the
main research focus since 2015. However, the use of blockchain in education has become a central research
theme in 2021. Healthcare, IoT, and government applications have also grown in popularity. We furthermore
analyzed some of the implementations of privacy mechanisms, as well as the challenges and future directions
that need to be addressed for effective blockchain deployment. This study contributes to existing research
by providing a comprehensive overview of blockchain application themes and their emerging areas for
stakeholders in diverse sectors.
INDEX TERMS Blockchain, applications, business and industry, internet of things, privacy and security.
I. INTRODUCTION
A blockchain is a technology that chains several blocks of
information together in ways that are decentralized, traceable,
and unalterable. It was first introduced in 2008 to track trans-
actions of the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin. Various
transactions are verified in a distributed and decentralized
database and can be updated on all nodes of the peer-to-peer
(P2P) network. Each block formed is a collection of new
information gathered whenever a transaction occurs, and it
has a unique hash value based on complex computations.
The blocks are chained together in a highly encrypted format
[1], [2]. Nowadays, privacy is one of the major concerns in all
The associate editor coordinating the review of this manuscript and
approving it for publication was Rahim Rahmani .
types of transactions. The use of blockchain technology can
bring about a revolutionary change in terms of privacy and
authentication, and therefore it is gaining popularity in the
fields of supply chain management, financial services, cloud
services, smart contracts, research, government services, and
consumer credit transactions. By integrating this technol-
ogy, problems of risk management, security, and resource
allocation may be solved. There is no need for a central
database or the involvement of a third-party service because
the data in a blockchain cannot be altered. This removes
the overhead costs for managing intermediary services from
different companies and organizations. In addition, the iden-
tification of individual users is done by various Internet of
Things (IoT) applications. In order to maintain anonymity,
the blockchain creates a changeable public key that can be
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F. A. Sunny et al.: Systematic Review of Blockchain Applications
given to any user and maintains the identity of users in
each service [3]. In a traditional transaction system, a central
authorization or third-party verification of a transaction is
required. If this party is not trustworthy, the security of the
transaction is compromised. In blockchain, the decentraliza-
tion of the transaction and the use of public and private keys
minimize opportunities for fraud.
The key features of blockchain technology were discussed
in [1], including its applications in various fields; it was
suggested that blockchain technology may have more ben-
efits for business transactions that use currencies other than
Bitcoin. It has various applications in fields such as trans-
portation, business, government, digital rights management,
supply chain management, energy management, and health-
care. In government sectors, blockchain can help us by pre-
serving digitized land rights in developing countries in which
land titles are problematic. In healthcare, doctors are often
unable to track patient health profiles due to inconsistent
and insecure data storage processes. However, patient data
can be stored on the blockchain network in an encrypted
format rather than on a central server, mitigating this problem.
In efforts to build a smart city [4], a huge amount of data
needs to be collected to create value. Blockchain can combine
and manage the data to achieve the best quality of service.
Combining blockchain with big data allows the beneficial
results of important data innovations to be merged so that a
smart city can be developed [5].
With these benefits in mind, a model for evaluating the
improvement level of the TOPSIS (technique for ranking
preferences by similarity to ideal solution) algorithm was
developed for the city of Hefei, China. IoT is consid-
ered another emerging technology that integrates various
devices so they can interact with each other without human-
to-human or human-to-machine cooperation. In conjunction
with blockchain, IoT-based applications can provide more
secure, verifiable, and immutable services for society [6].
In terms of the economic development of a smart trans-
portation system, blockchain can address situations in which
communication technologies, IoT, and other technologies are
important. To address the inherent difficulties such as secu-
rity in transportation systems, the innovations of blockchain
enhance decentralized governance and accelerate the commu-
nication between vehicles and the transportation framework.
In recent years, blockchain has gained popularity in the
field of public administration and research innovation. It is a
trusted process and a new application model for computing
technology [7]. There are many challenges to be faced in
implementing this technology for any organization in which
it must be implemented with multiple technologies [8]–[10].
The organization should analyze this technology carefully.
In terms of capacity and storage [11], all the blocks of data
cannot be stored in one node indefinitely.
Zheng et al. [12] conducted a comprehensive survey
of blockchain technology by introducing the blockchain
taxonomy and discussing crucial technical challenges.
Several papers have conducted systematic reviews of
existing blockchain applications [13]. Casino et al. [13]
identified 314 relevant articles published between January
2014 and April 2018. The presented categories of blockchain
applications allowed the authors to define six requirements
that enable blockchain applications: (1) privacy, (2) scalabil-
ity, (3) auditability, (4) interoperability, (5) visibility, and (6)
latency. Among them, auditability is mandatory for most cate-
gories of blockchain applications. The main limitation of this
study is that the findings were based only on articles collected
from the Scopus database; a large body of articles available
on other databases, such as ACM, Web of Science, and IEEE
Xplore, was ignored. This also prevented the authors from
being able to analyze research topics in each application
domain. Moreover, the omitting of databases oriented more
toward technical literature led to the overlooking of some
important research topics, especially within the IoT, trans-
portation, and security application domains. Several other
studies focused on specific blockchain application domains.
Sanka et al. [14] provided a list of use cases with exam-
ples of blockchain technologies. Sekaran et al. [11] surveyed
the main challenges of implementing blockchain in IoT.
Wang et al. [15] and Taylor et al. [16] performed systematic
surveys of blockchain cybersecurity applications, showing
that IoT is particularly suitable for novel blockchain appli-
cations. Other application areas systematically surveyed in
earlier studies included supply chain processes [17], [18],
agriculture [19], the smart grid [20], education [21], health-
care [22], business management [23], and industry 4.0
[24]–[26]. Therefore, we argue that there is a lack of com-
prehensive review studies oriented toward diverse blockchain
applications, and this is particularly important with regard
to the relatively short history of blockchain and its rapid
development, including the expansion of its application areas.
To provide guidance for further research, it was neces-
sary to conduct a comprehensive review of recent research
articles, in particular those that addressed the emerging
blockchain-based application domains.
In contrast with previous comprehensive application-
oriented review studies [13], we focused on emerging
areas of blockchain applications by covering those col-
lected from 2015 to 2021 from multiple research databases.
In addition, we introduced a more detailed categorization of
blockchain applications by identifying key research themes
in each application domain. We showed trends by outlining
state-of-the-art blockchain solutions in the domains. There-
fore, we believe that our approach fits well with current
blockchain developments and illustrates existing challenges
and future directions for both research and practice. Our find-
ings show that education, healthcare, IoT, and government are
the emerging blockchain-based application domains. From
this paper, researchers and practitioners will obtain infor-
mation on the diverse blockchain-based technology areas,
challenges, and policies that should be considered. The main
contributions of this study are as follows:
750 articles related to blockchain applications are iden-
tified in the period from 2015 to late 2021.
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Key stages in the development of blockchain technology
in specific industries are identified.
Diverse areas of blockchain technology are analyzed
based on the systematic review.
The benefits of the integration and implications
of blockchain technology in various domains are
summarized.
Challenges faced in the adoption of this technology are
examined.
Future directions for the implementation of blockchain
technology in different areas are identified.
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows.
In II, an overview of blockchain technology is provided.
Section III presents the research methodology of this paper.
The various applications of blockchain technology are
described in Section IV. The various challenges and future
directions of this technology are presented in Section V.
Finally, we conclude this paper by outlining some directions
that future research on blockchain technology could take
(Section VI).
II. BLOCKCHAIN OVERVIEW AND ARCHITECTURE
Each block has a header and a body. The header contains
a hash value and a hash reference that points to the hash
of the previous block, and as each hash reference of each
block points to the block generated before it, this sets up
the chain between blocks. All transaction types of blocks
are recorded in a ledger that is shared by all the connected
nodes in the network. A transaction is confirmed by the nodes
only when a block is added. A consensus protocol needs to
be verified and maintained for each block. Because many
nodes or computers are connected as a chain and each node
has a copy of the main chain, the information cannot be
easily accessed by hackers. If hackers want to break a block,
they must break the hash reference that is pointing to the
previous hash. Because of the protective processes embedded
in blockchain technology, breaking the chain is impossible at
present. Participants manage the blockchain using matching
mechanisms such as Proof-of-Work (PoF), Proof-of-Elapsed
Time (PoET), or Proof-of-Stake (PoS). Figure 1shows the
blockchain architecture, and Figure 2shows how transactions
are managed in blockchain.
There are two types of blockchain technologies:
Public blockchain: It is decentralized. Users can
put data into it and view the data, and it is open
to all. No permission is needed to access the
blocks.
Private blockchain: Only legal users can access the
information in the blockchain, and they must maintain
their authentication and control of the access.
There are three phases in creating a blockchain: blockchain
1.0, blockchain 2.0, and blockchain 3.0 [27]–[29].
Blockchain 1.0: Digital currency, such as Bitcoin, is the
first production application of blockchain.
Blockchain 2.0: Refers to economic and financial appli-
cations such as Ethereum.
FIGURE 1. Architecture of a block in blockchain.
Blockchain 3.0: Refers to applications related to the
digital society, such as education, healthcare, and gov-
ernment, where money is not involved.
From the perspective of the value factor and maturity,
there are four different phases of blockchain technolo-
gies, blockchain 1.0, blockchain 2.0, blockchain 3.0, and
blockchain 4.0, as analyzed in [30]. The application area of
blockchain 1.0 is related to digital payment systems and cur-
rency transfer and remittance, which are mainly transaction
oriented. Bitcoin is an example of blockchain 1.0. A smart
contract is an example of blockchain 2.0; it provides value in
the area of privacy. An opensource software platform called a
decentralized application (dApp) uses blockchain 3.0 and is
a platform on which application developers can conduct their
transactions. Blockchain 4.0 is considered an emerging tech-
nology that uses a decentralized artificial intelligence (AI)
system driven by autonomous decision making.
III. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The current state of blockchain technology was discussed in
detail in terms of its applicability to different technologic
scenarios. This paper summarizes the latest research results
of blockchain technology-based applications in seven indus-
tries. A systematic literature review on blockchain-based
applications was performed to answer the following research
question: What research themes are addressed in existing
research articles on blockchain-based applications? An unbi-
ased and methodical screening process was used to find
scientific papers on blockchain-based applications for our
literature review [31]. We developed a Python code that
searched various online databases such as Google Scholar,
IEEE Xplore, ACM, DBLP, SCOPUS, and the Web of Sci-
ence and used a number of keywords related to blockchains to
identify relevant articles. Some unpublished and/or archived
articles related to blockchain-based applications were also
included in the online search.
Specifically, we adopted the systematic literature search
used by Yli-Huumo et al. [32]. For the initial identification
of articles, the term ‘‘blockchain’ was combined with terms
for each of the corresponding application areas, resulting in
the following search strings:
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FIGURE 2. Blockchain-based transaction process.
Education: (‘‘blockchain’ OR ‘‘block-chain’’) AND
‘‘education’
Security & Privacy: (‘‘blockchain’’ OR ‘block-chain’’)
AND (‘‘security’ OR ‘‘privacy’’)
Financial Management: (‘‘blockchain’ OR ‘‘block-
chain’’) AND ‘financ*’’ AND ‘management’’
Society & Government: (‘‘blockchain’’ OR ‘block-
chain’’) AND (‘‘societ*’’ OR ‘government’’)
Healthcare: (‘‘blockchain’ OR ‘‘block-chain’’) AND
‘‘health*’
Transportation: (‘‘blockchain’’ OR ‘block-chain’’)
AND ‘‘transport*’
Healthcare: (‘‘blockchain’ OR ‘‘block-chain’’) AND
(‘‘IoT’ OR ‘‘internet of things’’)
As all the identified articles were not necessarily related
to the application domains, it was necessary to examine their
relevance. Therefore, the screening of articles followed, and
duplicates were removed. During the screening phase, articles
from unrelated research categories were excluded. In the next
step, the records were assessed for eligibility based on their
titles and abstracts, and irrelevant articles were excluded.
The list of the articles included in the systematic reviews is
provided in the Appendix, categorising the articles by the
application domains and year of publication. The results of
the search and selection process are given in the PRISMA
flow chart (Figure 3).
The numbers of articles for each theme and year are shown
in Figure 4. The full texts of all potentially related articles
were extracted.
FIGURE 3. Search and selection process of the thematic articles.
The keywords from the mind map obtained from the
assessment of articles are shown in Figure 5; the time frame
was January 2015 to October 2021. The mind map shows the
diversity of blockchain technologies by connecting the main
application domains at the first level. It is worth noting that
the identified first-level application domains are consistent
with those observed in [13]. Deeper classifications of each
domain based on blockchains have been assigned to the next
levels.
From this massive group of articles, we extracted a remark-
able number of articles by fine sorting. We then used a
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FIGURE 4. Number of thematic articles per year.
methodical approach to conduct the review; it had the fol-
lowing steps:
Based on the impact (citation numbers) of the articles
on other researchers, we determined whether the article
needed to be reviewed or not.
We identified articles relevant to our research objective.
We assessed each article through data extraction
and its contribution to the chosen blockchain-based
applications.
We wrote a report on our findings.
In our report, we considered more than 750 research
articles published between January 2015 and October 2021
(unpublished articles were excluded from the illustrative
investigation for compliance reasons). We also categorized
the selected articles by year of publication and subject area
and found that some articles overlapped in multiple areas. The
result of this methodologic approach was threefold:
It provided helpful insights into modern research trends
in blockchain technology and its applications.
It helped in visualizing the multidisciplinary research
approaches that have evolved in the literature to date.
It helped in constructing the taxonomy presented in
Section IV.
It should be mentioned that Bitcoin was the underly-
ing technology in [33], where a distributed ledger system
was introduced. Also, it took several years for blockchain
to be introduced to an interdisciplinary range of fields
with respect to different perspectives and benefits. Figure 4
shows the exponentially increasing interest of researchers in
working on blockchain technology in different fields and/or
themes, and this confirms the evidence and acceptance of
blockchain-based applications in these fields.
The collected papers, which are shown in Figure 4, formed
a basis for a comprehensive analysis of our research based
on themes or domains in each year. We found that the edu-
cation, healthcare, and IoT domains were not embedded in
blockchain research in 2015. In 2017, there was a significant
change in this regard due to the ease of implementation of
blockchain technologies and Ethereum [34], along with other
platforms [35]. Our mind map showed that before 2017 there
were only 37 articles but in 2017 there were 77 articles, and
later on the numbers were in the triple digits. The increase
highlights the evolving nature of blockchain technology and
the growing academic attention to it.
We also found that financial management and security
issues have been at the forefront of the field since the initial
phase, and these issues have become of increasing interest
each year, comprising 106 and 53 publications, respectively,
between 2015 and 2019. The areas of education, healthcare,
IoT, and transportation emerged later on, but they now have a
massive presence in the research community. Other domains
or categories that are not exclusively mentioned in this article
also have significant potential for real-world use but on a
small scale.
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FIGURE 5. Mind map of blockchain-based applications.
We have analyzed the growth of research in each domain,
and the findings are shown in Figure 4. The graph shows the
trends of interest of researchers in different areas. We found
that blockchain-based research in education grew exponen-
tially in 2021, with one of the main reasons being the
search for solutions for COVID-19. Researchers are focus-
ing more on healthcare, IoT, societal issues, and govern-
ment; the financial management and transportation sectors
have seen relatively less interest. Thus, it can be assumed
that blockchain-based applications have already been well
received by the research community and that it is now only a
matter of time before we implement them in our daily lives.
IV. APPLICATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN
This section explains in detail the applications in which
blockchain has been used in recent years and the areas in
which blockchain can be used in the future, with some pic-
torial representations.
A. BLOCKCHAIN IN TRANSPORTATION
The intelligent transportation system (ITS) is a result of the
growth and development of technologic innovations. The
use of a smart framework in transportation can save human,
financial, and material resources, and it can also immensely
improve the processes of automation and traffic management.
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Humayun et al. [36] proposed a blockchain framework called
the smart transportation and logistic framework (BCTLF),
which provides the logistics for transportation in combination
with blockchain and IoT. Traditional vehicular communica-
tion systems are vulnerable to breaches of privacy, which can
compromise security messages containing personal informa-
tion, such as the identity of the driver of a vehicle, type of
vehicle and area in which it is located. A well-known method
for managing this problem was the use of a pseudonym
that would conceal this information. Numerous articles have
shown that the cost of maintaining these pseudonyms may
increase and that the distribution of certificates will also be
difficult. Blockchain’s attributes of distribution and decen-
tralization can help to minimize these limitations [37].
1) TRAFFIC REDUCTION
In a blockchain-based ITS proposed in [38], users were to
share the traffic conditions for a specific location and then
suggest a better route for other users. This sharing could
become flawed if security issues arose. Li et al. [39] proposed
an ITS with blockchain technology that would validate the
trust (security) infrastructure.
2) PAYMENTS
For some specific applications, mobile payment systems
already exist in many countries. All transport-related pay-
ments, such as ticket purchases for buses or light rail tran-
sit, vehicle registrations, and parking fees, can be managed
using blockchain technology [40]. This reassures drivers and
passengers so they do not have to worry much about trading
their credits. This can open new opportunities for enhancing
transportation scenarios based on a smart contract scheme.
3) ENERGY EXCHANGE
In supporting unmanned aerial vehicles and connected elec-
tric vehicles, an important issue is how to exchange energy.
A blockchain-based energy exchange method has been
proposed to support a secure and energy-efficient trans-
portation system [41]. Blockchain is used to approve the
energy requests of electronic vehicles in a delegated manner,
in which the mining node verifies the validity of each request.
In addition, a software-defined backbone controller is used.
4) DATA DISTRIBUTION
For smart transportation, many tools and techniques have
been considered for obtaining real-time responses, such as
route distribution, time management, environmental chal-
lenges, and safety management [42], [43]. Blockchain tech-
nology facilitates the management of these tasks. In vehicular
communication systems (VCSs), the number of nodes in the
network can be high. Thus, the security key management pro-
cess is time consuming and requires a central administrator.
By using blockchain with ITS, this key management proce-
dure can be performed dynamically without a central author-
ity. A secure key management procedure using blockchain
technology is proposed for an ITS with different performance
results [44], [45].
B. BLOCKCHAIN IN IoT
In recent years, IoT-based applications have gained popular-
ity in various fields such as smart cities, healthcare, educa-
tion, government, and social applications [46]. In IoT-based
networks, many datasets are available publicly for all users.
Blockchain is used to guarantee the privacy and integrity
of these shared data sets. The graph in Figure 6shows an
overview of how blockchain is combined with IoT. Sensors
are connected with many devices or nodes in the IoT net-
work [47]. A huge volume of data is captured on the IoT
platform by a cloud service. Many nodes are connected with
a gateway in small networks. In a large network, many nodes
are also connected with gateways based on the cluster. Each
node contains a pair of public and private keys. Every node
in the network uses its public key at the time of registration
and creates a digital profile record on the blockchain. When
a node receives a transaction, the private key is used for
creating a digital signature, which is verified by the gateway.
Different IoT devices are connected with the blockchain to
synchronize and maintain a protocol for interacting with the
blockchain network. Danzi et al. [48] proposed two protocols
for the synchronization and control of traffic between IoT and
blockchain networks. They analyzed the bandwidth require-
ment and time needed to synchronize them.
Using blockchain, a reference integrity metric (RIM) is
maintained to ensure the integrity of the dataset; the process
is shown in Figure 7[49]. Casado-Vara et al. [50] proposed
a model for determining the optimal number of blocks. For
sending blocks in IoT-based applications, they developed
an algorithm using hashmaps, which makes monitoring IoT
networks faster and more reliable. For the proper implemen-
tation and use of blockchain technology, many questions need
to be answered by managers, entrepreneurs, and business
owners. Chen et al. [6] analyzed some questions that need
to be answered before implementing IoT with blockchain
technology.
1) SMART CITY
A smart city is a diverse IoT-based network system that offers
several applications and security solutions to citizens. Smart
cities rely on the assembly, analysis, and digitalization of
information. To solve single-point failures of IoT devices
in smart city applications, Vivekanandan et al. proposed a
blockchain-based authentication protocol [51]. In their pro-
tocol, a private blockchain is used to register the IoT devices
instead of a registration center authority (RAC). Singh et al.
presented a detailed analysis of necessities for a sustainable
smart city [52]. Their requirements for a blockchain-and-
artificial-intelligence-based sustainable smart city are shown
in Figure 8. Another blockchain-and-IoT-based research pro-
posal for a smart city application is shown in [53]. The authors
proposed a consensus algorithm for secure data transmission
for a smart factory.
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FIGURE 6. Blockchain architecture with IoT.
FIGURE 7. Blockchain-based reference integrity metric (RIM) and
membership management [49].
2) INDUSTRIAL SECTOR
Blockchain and IoT have opened numerous new opportuni-
ties and provided hope for improved productivity, efficiency,
and transparency in the industrial sector [54]. IoT provides
real-time data by using sensors. Because the prices of sensors
are falling day by day, sensors are becoming affordable for
many industries. Blockchain is combined with IoT for sharing
real-time data among users in a decentralized and distributed
manner.
3) SUPPLY CHAIN
The supply chain is an area in which many business prob-
lems occur, such as late deliveries, absent suppliers, and
FIGURE 8. Requirements of smart cities.
untrustworthy intermediaries. There is a lot of paperwork
involved in the shipping procedures for supplies. In addition,
there are many losses of supplies and delays in deliveries of
them. These problems can be resolved by using blockchain,
which removes the dependency on an intermediary. IoT
devices can be connected to components or products, and the
blockchain captures the data from these devices [55]. Using
blockchain, the location of the shipping container and the
time stamp of the transaction can be captured. This elimi-
nates the need for paperwork, and delays can be minimized.
Digitization creates more opportunities for many companies
and drives the supply chain. The use of technology creates
not only opportunities but also manages complex procedures
for following various rules. Rozman et al. [56] proposed a
logistics platform based on the blockchain and IoT for man-
ufacturing companies so they can maintain the supply chain.
Their proposed plan has the following steps:
The supply chain is an automated process that is com-
plex and challenging. An interface node called a genesis
node can provide platform information remotely.
The genesis node sends a link to the platform informa-
tion to all other nodes. For transport services, a map-
ping node is required, which is provided by the address
resolver node (ARN).
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When a company is aware of which providers are avail-
able, it sends a request using the company API. The
transport providers receive the information and send a
response to the company. The latter selects the best
provider, enters into an agreement with that provider
with the help of an agreement node, and thereby forms
a smart contract with the provider.
The company can enhance its product shipping platform
by using packages.
4) AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE
The autonomous vehicle is an attractive technology that may
offer benefits for years to come. Sensors are attached to vehi-
cles and all of their information is captured on the IoT plat-
form, which is connected to a blockchain. The data can show
when a car needs to be refueled or repaired due to an engine
breakdown or other problems. Because the blockchain keeps
a permanent record of each transaction, the trust between the
manufacturer and the consumer increases. The whole process
can be explained as follows:
The vehicle sends data about the requested service, such
as refueling, parking, or repair of engine failure, to the
IoT platform.
An open API is used for these services. Once the ser-
vice is completed, a blockchain-based transaction is
recorded.
5) PLANT ASSET MANUFACTURING MANAGEMENT
Blockchain and IoT can be used to predict and prevent fail-
ures of manufacturing products. IoT sensors can identify fail-
ures due to heat or extreme vibration. Proactive management
with blockchain used with IoT can prevent these failures. This
allows a factory to produce more reliable products. Recording
and maintaining huge volumes of data can be handled by
digitization with blockchain without the involvement of a
third party.
6) TRUST MANAGEMENT
To ensure data integrity and interconnectivity, a trust
mechanism must be established for end users in IoT appli-
cations. A blockchain-based trust architecture with three lay-
ers (blockchain layer, data layer, and application layer) has
been proposed in [57]. The data layer consists of collected
instances from IoT platforms and other sources. These data
are hashed by a cryptographic function and stored in many
blocks that are concatenated in the blockchain layer [58]. This
layer maintains the chain and records every transaction that
interacts with the application layer. The responsibility of the
application layer is to process the data and provide services to
the end users. In a gateway, many sensors are connected and
a sensor node can communicate with neighboring sensors for
trustworthiness. When a node records a transaction, the gate-
way accepts it and creates a new block after authentication.
Trustworthiness can be achieved by recalculating the value by
verifying the data in the block. Some researchers [59], [60]
proposed a method called TrustChain to increase integrity
and reduce traceability in the supply chain. They used a
three-layer architecture with a collective blockchain to track
the interactions among the supply chain participants. Based
on the interactions, trust and reputation gateway points were
assigned.
7) BeeKeeper
Zhou et al. [61] proposed a blockchain-based IoT service
method called BeeKeeper. They based it on the methods a
beekeeper uses to collect honey from a hive. A beekeeper
does not need to know how the honey is produced or who
collects it. Three participants were considered in the proposed
system: the leader is like the beekeeper, the devices are like
the bees, and the servers are like the hives. The user records
are stored in the blockchain instead of on cloud servers.
The leader can choose any node from the blockchain to be
used as a server and can generate and encrypt the shared
data using TSMPC (threshold secure multiparty computing
protocol); the servers do not need to know the details of the
data. The leader recovers the result that is processed by the
servers and verifies the correct answer using the threshold.
In addition, data sharing, responses, and malicious nodes
can be verified. The system can also use external resources
for a better performance. The authors evaluated the system’s
performance with the Ethereum private blockchain and found
a server response time of 107 ms.
8) SMART AGRICULTURE
In [62], an energy-efficient smart agriculture scheme was
proposed to improve the network’s lifetime. Food traceability
can help to ensure food safety; to do this, information is col-
lected about the entire life cycle of food, such as production,
cultivation, and storage. In the smart agriculture ecosystem,
a food traceability system based on blockchain and IoT has
been proposed [63], [64]. The use of smart technologies
reduces the human involvement in recording and verifying
food production. Nowadays, there are many problems related
to human health because of unhealthy food. Some of the
problems are as follows:
Many farmers and wholesalers use highly toxic chem-
icals, fertilizers, and mineral oils in the cultivation of
fruits and vegetables because they increase the bright-
ness of food colors and other attributes. However, they
are very dangerous for the human body.
Some foods are packaged in plastics, which may contain
traces of heavy metals. Polythene bags have harmful
effects on human health.
Some aspects of food production are harmful to human
health, such as the use of polluted water or waste oil and
the selling of meat from diseased chickens.
To solve this problem, blockchain and IoT applications can
be used to track food production. A long-range radio (LoRa)-
based IoT technology in a smart agriculture ecosystem with
blockchain has been proposed in [65]. Blockchain can help
to verify the quality of food and improve its trustworthiness
mechanism. The New Zealand government has introduced
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blockchain-based smart agriculture [66]. Consumers can use
this system to track their foods’ origins, place of production,
quality, and safety.
9) SMART CONTRACT
A particular IoT device manufacturer can obtain the lat-
est firmware version from a distributed file system using
a smart contract. A dynamic record of authorized devices
is maintained by smart contracts for IoT networks [67].
The workload of devices can be balanced using smart con-
tracts. A smart grid shows where energy resources are stored
and whether they are distributed properly. Blockchain is
combined with IoT to reduce the limitations of individual
devices. How does this interaction take place? This question
is answered by the authors in [68]. According to them, four
layers, including communication, consensus, data, and appli-
cation, are considered. An example of the application layer in
this proposed model is smart contract technology.
C. BLOCKCHAIN IN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Each financial system can provide its services to thousands
of users by regularly carrying out many transactions. Increas-
ingly, however, these services have to face economic crime.
In addition, their providers face increased regulation costs and
their consumers incur additional costs. They have to maintain
all types of transactions using centralized databases and face
many types of attacks. Blockchain is considered a solution
to this whole problem [69]. This technology has some attrac-
tive features such as decentralized and distributed databases,
P2P communication and transparency, and the keeping of a
permanent record of each transaction. Morkunas et al. [70]
explained the working procedures of blockchain technolo-
gies and discussed two types of these technologies, public
and private. They illustrated how blockchain affects the nine
elements of an established framework of a business model.
They collected information on this procedure from coun-
tries in North America and Europe and from South Africa,
where blockchain technologies are implemented. They cited
several obstacles, such as high costs due to the require-
ment for dedicated developers and complex integration. In a
period of greater risks and uncertainties, blockchain archi-
tecture and potential remedies were proposed to overcome
the challenges in the business sector and increase supply
chain resilience [71]. In this proposed architecture, five mod-
ules, data source, transaction, block creation, consensus, and
connection and interface, were discussed. The difference
between risk management using blockchain and conventional
risk management was evaluated.
A blockchain-based trading platform scenario was pro-
posed in [72] for financial product lifecycle management.
In this architecture, two financial institutions were responsi-
ble for product management and each institution had three
departments where all nodes were connected to a P2P
network. The proposed business network included prod-
uct creation, modification, and processing and basic opera-
tions. After receiving a certificate from each institution, the
institutions were allowed to create and modify the product.
The verification and execution of transactions were handled
by the other departments. The different types of blockchain
application domains and IoT networks in the financial sectors
are described below:
1) BANKING
The banking sector can create several blockchain-based
applications that can reduce transaction and intermediary
costs by $20 billion [73]. Several cloud-based startup compa-
nies have been created to provide users with all the services
of the banking system, such as access to regular and sav-
ings accounts and to applications for loans and other finan-
cial products. After two years of research and development,
another banking system based on the distributed ledger of
blockchain called Corda has been created. This can provide
banking services to users without intermediaries such as bank
offices. Some global banks are using the blockchain system to
provide secure, efficient operations and safe banking services
to users.
2) COST REDUCTION
The consulting firm Capgemini estimates that up to
$16 billion in banking and insurance fees could be saved
by using blockchain-based applications. Blockchain does not
need an intermediary to maintain the system. This can reduce
the cost of intermediaries. Six blockchain-based services are
being considered for financial management systems around
the world [74]. The available blockchain technology services
in the world that reduce transaction costs are listed in Table 1.
3) PRODUCT TRACEABILITY
A decentralized supply chain management system as a
blockchain-based token recipe is proposed for product source
traceability and its revolutionary process, and a prototype
implementation is evaluated in terms of smart contracts [66].
Each token contains one flexible size of goods that can be
evaluated in terms of weight, item, size, and volume. A new
token can be created from multiple tokens. Contract owners
can create, merge, split, transfer, and consume batches of
tokens. During token production, the number of units and
components for a given batch can be determined using a
designed algorithm. Some found goods with similar qualities
that should be used for production are identified by the certifi-
cate contract. The traceability process is described using the
example of the wood industry. A set of solid contracts is used
to achieve traceability in the supply chain, and the Ethereum
request for comments (ERC) 721 interface is implemented
to achieve compatibility. Tokens are created for all produced
batches of wood, which are approved by resource suppliers
or testifiers.
4) LOAN MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
In the current loan management system, data protection for
transparent transactions is not as strong. To minimize this
problem, a financial loan management system called loan on
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TABLE 1. Established blockchain-based transaction services around the world.
blockchain (LoC) based on a smart contract has been pro-
posed [75]. The architecture and process of the LoC system
are shown in Figure 9. To secure the transaction using LoC,
the designers generated a digital account to automate the
execution using the generated chain code. A digital signature
is provided for the validity of the loan.
The LoC system has different components, including the
roles of the participants (e.g., finance department, bank, cus-
tomer). They are linked to the fabric SDK node in the system,
which is connected to the participants by channels. Member-
ship management provides enrollment services for each node.
The channels are also responsible for broadcasting services
for the messages and the ordering platform that incrementally
creates transaction blocks. There are several channels, each
of which is associated with a single peer called a chaincode
in the smart contract implementation. The ordering platform
sends the order update status in the form of blocks (containing
the hash value of the previous blocks and other information
about the block) to the chaincode through the channels.
5) CORPORATE TRADING
Blockchain provides various benefits such as transparency
of ownership, faster transactions, elimination of middlemen,
and cheaper settlements when it comes to trading with busi-
nesses [76]. The activities of shareholders, managers, and
investors can be easily tracked. However, all participants may
not agree to use this system because they may not want to
disclose their trades to other managers and shareholders of
small organizations. This problem can be solved by using
smart contracts, in which visibility can be limited for some
users. In this blockchain system, individual shareholders and
shareowners can be identified [77].
6) TOURISM
Blockchain can help the travel industry to maintain all
its processes seamlessly using various tools and technolo-
gies. In the traditional system, customer reviews have pro-
moted tourism, but unfortunately, some of these reviews
have been fraudulent. This problem can be curbed with
the help of blockchain-based applications by verifying user
profiles. Many researchers are trying to develop and ana-
lyze blockchain applications in the tourism industry. There
are many challenges to be faced in considering blockchain
technology, and researchers are trying to mitigate these chal-
lenges. For example, Airbnb and Uber are popular applica-
tions that do not rely on a traditional business model but rather
are based on the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) model [78].
Some basic information about blockchain-based travel plat-
forms that has emerged in recent years is given in Table 2.
7) CLIMATE PROTECTION
Global warming has been a pressing issue in recent years, and
its impact is evident in various countries. Manmade green-
house gas emissions are the main cause of global warming,
which will increase by 2.8by 2050 if no action is taken in
this decade [79]. The author in [79] argues that blockchain
can solve this problem by limiting human activity. Factory
and livestock farming results in deforestation and the reduced
absorption of CO2, and this can lead to the accumulation of
CO2 in the atmosphere. Blockchain can reduce paperwork
and human activities in digital applications. If blockchain
technology is implemented by 2030, global warming can be
reduced by at least 4by 2050. The Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project
offers developing countries monetary incentives to reduce
emissions from forests [80], [81]. The authors analyzed sev-
eral flaws of REDD+and found solutions in blockchain tech-
nology, such as cryptocarbon management, green finance,
and sustainable investments.
D. BLOCKCHAIN IN SECURITY AND PR IVACY
In this section, we address the security and privacy issues
in the use of blockchain technology. A distributed cloud
architecture based on this technology has been designed to
improve privacy and security issues, which are the most
challenging aspects in recent times. This model takes min-
imal effort, is secure, and offers on-demand access to the
most concentrated computing framework. It has some metrics
that enable cost-effective high-performance computing in IoT
networks [82]. Some researchers [83] analyzed blockchain
as a security factor after analyzing the challenges, feasi-
bility, and effectiveness of IoT-related deployments. For a
smart city, Sharma et al. [84] proposed a hybrid system of
architecture with an Argon2-based PoW scheme to achieve
superior privacy and efficiency. The network was divided
into two parts, the core network and the edge network. The
nodes with extensive storage and computational resources
belonged to the core network, which was responsible for cre-
ating blocks and edge nodes. This network contained limited
storage and computational power where the nodes acted as a
centralized server. However, an effectivedeployment strategy
and caching technique was not implemented in that work.
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FIGURE 9. LoC architecture [75].
TABLE 2. Blockchain in distributed travel platforms.
The application areas of blockchain with respect to security
and privacy are analyzed in detail.
1) HEALTHCARE
Blockchain can be used effectively in healthcare to store
patient medical records, images, videos, and documents. All
of these types of data are sensitive and need to be made very
private and secure but must also be available for those who
need them. Blockchain technology can be used to maintain
the security and privacy of data [3], [85]. In a Bitcoin-based
healthcare model, the health data from each user can be
stored [86]. However, the storage management system is not
bandwidth intensive, and there is a massive dispersion of
network resources via throughput optimization [87]. Instead
of using Bitcoin, a better solution is to use an access control
manager and store the instances in a database management
system. An authorized administrator can access these records
using a unique identifier that locates them where they are
encrypted and time-stamped in the storage device. All the
data of the blockchain database are called data lakes, which
are very essential for data analysis [88]. Figure 10 shows the
architecture of a healthcare system using blockchain.
FIGURE 10. Healthcare transactions using blockchain.
2) FINANCIAL SECTOR
Blockchain is used as the backbone for Bitcoin, which has
been a popular digital currency technology in recent years.
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Various technologies are used for verification and validation
in many methods [70]. Figure 11 shows a transaction for
blockchain in finance using smart contracts. In this industry,
data are encrypted from each block in the blockchain, and
this provides security and confidentiality. In addition, private
and public keys are used by financial organizations with
high security needs. The consistency and integrity of data
are confirmed in blockchain, which depends on the nature
of traceability and immutability. There are diverse solutions
for this kind of problem. In this system, user information
is encrypted to ensure the security of records. Then hash
values are included in each transaction. In addition to this,
traceability is tracked over time and nonrepudiation records
are used to ensure data security [89].
FIGURE 11. Finance transactions using blockchain.
3) INTERNET OF THINGS
The IoT is a system that connects a vast number of compo-
nents, such as digital devices and computing machines that
communicate with each other without any human interac-
tions. Blockchain is used in IoT for data storage and secu-
rity [90]–[92]. Users can access and store data remotely from
any device and location. Moreover, the blockchain effectively
ensures the security and privacy of the stored data [93]. In this
case, an account is set up, missions are generated, and the
account can be controlled securely. In addition, authenticated
users can extract hash value managers and block numbers or
generate a unique identifier. The data are stored and extracted
from the repository system using this identifier. The number
of digital devices used in the IoT is increasing, so blockchain
is gradually truncating the business process. Using a public
blockchain, users can store, extract, and share data between
different devices and protect it with a private key. Figure 12
shows how blockchain technology is used in IoT.
4) DEFENSE SECTOR
Most weapons and related equipment in the defense sector
are vulnerable to cyberattacks by hackers at any time [94].
Blockchain can reduce these kinds of threats by encrypting
confidential data. Moreover, the data are transmitted using
secure hashing and consensus mechanisms that enhance the
authenticity of data in the communication mode. Blockchain
also successfully controls the data maintenance process.
FIGURE 12. Blockchain in Internet of Things.
Records cannot be altered or changed, because they are pro-
tected by highly secure blocks and hash values. Various secret
documents and information (e.g., videos, images, and plans
for advanced weapons) can be kept in the storage system
using this technology. It maintains a highly secure and pro-
tected mode using hash values and block numbers. Thus, this
technology confirms the privacy and security of data.
5) MOBILE APPLICATIONS
Blockchain can be used in various mobile applications
through device-to-device communication, data transfer, and
a payment system [95], [96]. For example, edge computing
is performed based on the concept of blockchain. Figure 13
shows a conceptual representation of the use of this tech-
nology in mobile applications. The blockchain concept is
used where transactions take place on online devices. It is a
secure protocol for transferring sensitive data or messages.
Blockchain provides well-maintained security and privacy
during money transfers with mobile applications.
FIGURE 13. Mobile applications using blockchain.
6) AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY
The number of vehicles is increasing day by day, and it is
difficult for drivers to communicate safely with each other.
Blockchain technology is mainly used in the automotive
industry [97], [98]. A secure and safe architecture can protect
a smart vehicle from external and internal threats. Moreover,
blockchain has a decentralized architecture that can be more
useful than a centralized architecture. It does not have a
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single point of failure at which continuous communications
between smart vehicles is lost. In blockchain technology, data
communication is done by an encryption process with high
integrity. Using hash values and block numbers can make
transactions from different blocks between smart vehicles
more secure. In addition, the drivers use different applications
and upload records to the cloud in a secure manner. Figure 14
shows how blockchain technology is used in the automotive
industry.
FIGURE 14. Automotive applications using blockchain.
E. BLOCKCHAIN IN HEALTHCARE
The medical and healthcare sector needs to handle vast
amounts of patient and other health-related information
in a safe and secure manner. When such information is
properly recorded, the quality of treatment is improved
[99], [100]. Singh et al. proposed a model for electronic
health records (EHRs) using JavaScript-based smart con-
tracts [101]. Another group of researchers proposed a frame-
work based on smart contracts to collect more accurate
healthcare information [102]. Figure 15 shows how health
and patient information is better secured using blockchain
technology.
In the medical and healthcare sector, a huge number of
patients and other health-related information should be pro-
cessed in a secure and protected way. If the patient’s health
data is recorded properly, then the quality of treatment is
increased [99], [100]. Singh et al. proposed a model for
electronic healthcare records (EHR) using JavaScript-based
smart contracts [101]. Another group of researchers proposed
a smart contract-based framework for collecting more precise
healthcare information [102]. Figure 15 shows how health
and patient information are more secured using Blockchain
technology.
1) COVID-19
The coronavirus has caused a worldwide pandemic and
has affected human lives greatly. It is important to reduce
the extent of the damage caused by this crisis. Blockchain
is an effective technology for combatting the COVID-19
FIGURE 15. Blockchain in healthcare.
pandemic [103]. It is mandatory to quickly identify and
track cases in different places. Thompson et al. [104] pro-
posed a self-testing system with a combination of blockchain
and AI. Marbouh et al. [105] proposed a blockchain-based
COVID-19 crisis tracking system using smart contracts and
Ethereum oracles. Blockchain ensures the authenticity of
information and provides a suitable solution for reducing the
panic of this pandemic. The proposed system is connected
to various web channels through oracles to collect real-time
data.
2) ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS
Blockchain can be used to store and analyze EHRs to provide
flexible and secure services [106], [107]. In this system, all
medical devices are preserved and potential quacks can be
identified [108], [109]. The Estonian government adopted a
blockchain-based startup called Keyless Signature Infrastruc-
ture (KSI) that allows access to almost one million public
health records without the need for a third party [110]. These
records help patients to access and update data efficiently.
3) TELEMEDICINE
Telemedicine is becoming a more popular service for patients
every day. With the help of this technology, a patient who is
located far away from a medical provider can get extensive
care. Additionally, patients get immediate treatment and do
not have to wait for the doctor in the hospital. Telemedicine
is considered an advanced technology in modern times, and
data communication between patients is cited as a primary
concern [106]. Blockchain technology can connect patients
and telemedicine. Using this technology, patients’ medi-
cal records are collected and stored using hash values and
block numbers. Furthermore, blockchain technology pro-
vides a high level of security for health data. According to
Angraal et al. [111], a platform called MedRec, which shares
health and administrative data between a medical center in
Israel and MIT’s Media Lab, has been implemented.
4) EXPENSES AND SERVICES
In the traditional hospital management system, there are
many errors in the calculation of patient treatment costs.
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Poor management has affected the popularity of hospital ser-
vices. Blockchain technology is used to mitigate these kinds
of mismanagement issues related to additional costs and
services [112], [113].
5) DRUG SUPPLY CHAIN
Many drug supply companies have faced many problems and
losses owing to inadequate monitoring [114]. These com-
panies are not only facing losses but may be liable for the
effects of counterfeit drugs in patient treatment. Blockchain
technology can help by tracking products and accurately
measuring drugs as part of supply chain management [115].
6) HYGIENE RESEARCH
If researchers want to work for patients, they need to collect
data on many diseases. This process may be lengthy and
inflexible. Blockchain can store patient health records and
link them to the healthcare network [116].
F. BLOCKCHAIN IN SOCIETY INFRASTRUCTURE AND
GOVERNMENT
Blockchain technology plays a vital role in the development
of social and governmental activities for e-governance [117].
In the current system, data such as employee IDs are stored in
a centralized database with multiple duplicate servers. How-
ever, this centralized system suffers from many cyberattack
issues, such as denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial
of service (DDoS) [118]. Blockchain technology can initial-
ize many flexible services, such as voting records, property
registrations, patent exchanges, criminal records, and licenses
for driving and other activities. Many researchers are focusing
their attention on the implementation of various blockchain-
related technologies. In a distributed system, shared and
approved transactions are stored and each block contains a
hash value to ensure its integrity in the ledger [119]. All
of the nodes contain blockchain information, and there is
no change in the entire chain that could corrupt the blocks.
This technology allows access to and submission of records
for e-governance at any time [120]. Ojo et al. [110] ana-
lyzed the implications of blockchain in the Digital 5 (D5)
countries, which are South Korea, Estonia, the United King-
dom, Israel, and New Zealand. In order to create a robust
digital economy, the D5 countries agreed to use a digital
governance system and have encouraged their citizens to
develop technologic skills for use at home and in the business
world. Some of the objectives of these network groups are as
follows:
Providing services to citizens according to their needs
Sharing standard policies and resources among users
Allowing competition between companies or business
organizations on an open market platform
Providing opportunities to children to learn how to code
and achieve next-generation goals
Making a commitment to learn, share, and help each
other
To achieve the goals and objectives, D5 countries have
taken various initiatives in different areas. They have devel-
oped and digitized their services in the following sectors:
South Korea: governance, finance
Estonia: health, economy
United Kingdom: finance, welfare and social security,
education, public service
Israel: finance, economy
New Zealand: agriculture, energy
The following are different application areas where
blockchain can be involved in government and societal
activities:
1) INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY
In the traditional system, personal records are stored sepa-
rately in different systems, such as an employment file, edu-
cational file, and business file [121]. The information about
an individual that is stored in a government database may
be different from the information stored in other databases.
This problem can be solved by using blockchain technology,
where information about a person is permanently recorded at
a single point in time and can be made available for anyone,
or any institution, that wants it. Nowadays, verifying the
identity of refugees and immigrants is a serious problem in
the world because their records may be lost or difficult to
access. With the help of a blockchain-based digital identity,
records can be accessed by anyone in any location.
2) E-RESIDENTS
Estonia offers an electronic residency system that can be
used by people inside and outside the country [110]. The
Estonian government introduced this system in 2014 with
the aim of creating a borderless country. The main idea is a
location-independent online business with a digital identity
that is accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world [122].
The project is called Bitnation, and it is based on blockchain
technology in a virtual nation. People communicate using a
public key infrastructure (PKI).
3) LAND AND PROPERTY REGISTRY
Ownership of property, such as a house or land, can be
transferred using a blockchain-based smart contract [123].
The rules of the transaction are maintained by the smart
contract. The buyer keeps the total cost of the property in
the blockchain and distributed system. Then, the seller can
receive the transferred money, and this transaction is con-
firmed before the property is handed over. After that, the
registration of the property is updated in the blockchain. For
example, the valid owner of a lost car can be found by viewing
the car’s transaction history in the ledger. Only the valid
owner can sell the car, and ownership must be confirmed.
Blockchain technology rapidly confirms the identity of the
owner and buyer and the buyer’s financial status. It keeps
track of the transaction history so that unauthorized or fraudu-
lent persons cannot steal the car [124]. This can reduce human
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involvement in registrations for cars or land and also reduce
the possibility of errors.
4) BIRTH AND MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES
Some vital records such as birth, marriage, and death certifi-
cates can be permanently stored using blockchain technol-
ogy [118]. This ensures that the total number of citizens listed
in the automated system cannot be changed.
5) VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS
If someone wants to buy a used car, its mileage records
can be analyzed by its vehicle identification number (VIN)
using blockchain technology [125]. Because the mileage and
history records of the car are permanently stored, the seller
cannot cheat the buyer.
6) VOTING RECORDS
Blockchain technology is useful for voting systems, espe-
cially in national elections. A voter can cast a vote only
once and check whether it has been correctly recorded or
not. This process ensures data integrity. The use of a con-
sensus protocol in the distribution and authentication pro-
cess makes fraud easy to detect and prevents any type
of alterations [126], [127]. Estonia was the first coun-
try to implement a voting system using the Internet. Nor-
way used a remote voting system in 2011 for its local
elections [128].
G. BLOCKCHAIN IN EDUCATION
Every educational institution must keep track of the demo-
graphic information about students and teachers, the test
results of students, and the certificates and diplomas awarded
to students. In order to keep track of all these components,
many stakeholders are involved. Blockchain is considered
the best technology for keeping records in a flexible and
reliable manner [125], [129]. Optimizing the learning and
teaching processes offers many challenges in many countries.
Blockchain can help to manage these challenges by keeping
records efficiently and accurately. Moreover, learning is not
limited by time or space. The Knowledge Media Institute
of the Open University has established a blockchain-based
project called OpenBlockchain in collaboration with British
Telecommunications in the United Kingdom [130]. Several
benefits can be achieved with blockchain in educational
institutions:
Secure and protected data on students and/or
departments
Access restriction can be effectively defined
Transparency between data is preserved
Trust is created among all users
Costs are reduced
Students’ and resource owners’ identities can be
authenticated
Student performance can be evaluated efficiently and
quickly
1) CERTIFICATE MANAGEMENT
Many blockchain applications for educational systems
have been designed for managing academic certificates.
Grather et al. proposed a complete certificate management
platform implemented as a blockchain-based platform [131].
All records can be managed without any third party
assistance [132], [133].
2) DATA SCIENCE
Blockchain technology can be revolutionary for maintain-
ing and processing huge amounts of data. To increase the
knowledge and skills in data science, the European Data
Science Academy offers training on interactive tools, and the
blockchain smart badge system [134] has been designed as
part of the course.
3) STUDENT LOAN MANAGEMENT
Using a smart contract, blockchain can be connected to a
student loan management system. The repayment process is
linked to the student’s performance, salary, and other issues.
In a traditional loan management system, more time is needed
for processing and approval. To reduce the time needed,
a blockchain-based student loan management system called
Social Finance (SoFi) has been launched [135]. It reduces the
processing time, documentation overhead, and intermediary
costs. The SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology)
Lending Company, a personal loan management company,
used Bitcoin and Ethereum [136].
V. CHALLENGES AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
Blockchain can provide many benefits in networked areas.
It always works with a large amount of data because the chain
of nodes provides the resources needed to maintain a huge
collection of data. When the chain becomes too long, the
performance of the entire network can be reduced. The prob-
ability of a double-spend attack has become more likely. The
total number of transactions per second is lower in blockchain
than in the Visa International Service Association (VISA).
According to Panarello et al. [137], there are two solutions
to this problem:
Reducing the block size by allowing communication
only with digital signatures
Increasing the block size to increase the number of
transactions
As for smart contracts, keys can expire if users do not send
coins intermittently. Another issue for blockchain is the large
amount of traffic within its system; transactions are main-
tained for multiple nodes, multiple users, a huge number of
blocks, and multiple devices. When a user completes a suc-
cessful transaction with a merchant, a second transaction may
not be accepted. However, if users are sent multiple conflict-
ing transactions, the possibility of a certain kind of double-
spend attack, the race attack, may occur. In a blockchain,
block miners keep records of transactions and verify them.
Pool mining is the process of passing the control of a pool
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from one miner to another at the wrong times. In this process,
several attacks may be introduced on the mining pool:
Coin Hopping Attack: When the pool manager misuses
its computational power, it does not tell its miners to
choose another blockchain that provides a higher trans-
action verification reward [138].
Selfish Mining Attack: When honest miners’ compu-
tations are wasted, the miners cannot use their mining
power properly. Then the pool exceeds the threshold
of this mining power, and a selfish mining attack may
occur.
Pool Hoping Attack: This attack was first introduced
in Bitcoin. It tries to split the block reward of a pool
hopper. When a miner wants to earn more profit than
expected, the miner does not hand over control of the
pool to other miners. Thus, honest miners may lose their
profit [139].
Block Withholding (BWH) Attack: When a miner
does not share a full PoW with the pool manager, it can
be assumed that the miner is a BWH attacker.
Privacy and security are ensured by the digital identity
of the private key. If this private key is stolen, all assets
associated with the private key may be lost. Thus, a public key
can be chosen when it is visible during the transaction [140].
Given that the existence of IoT devices is physical, a research
question may be how blockchain can ensure the security of
IoT datasets.
When it comes to e-government, the upfront investment of
money and time will be high because there is no common
platform or standard for implementing blockchain technol-
ogy with different areas. Before implementation can take
place, it is necessary to determine the requirements for the
system and how the system will be maintained. Each orga-
nization must understand its responsibility because many
organizations, institutions, companies, and technologies are
connected together. For this technology, a high-speed Internet
and bandwidth may be required. On the other hand, this
technology cannot provide a guarantee that it will never make
a mistake. Many researchers have proposed many solutions
for these situations, but more research is needed to find an
overall solution. In public blockchain networks, the compu-
tational power of each block needed is too high to maintain
different companies. The total cost of creating this robust
system can be so high that most companies or businesses
cannot bear it. Another problem is that publicly accessible
devices can provide information to malicious users about the
interests or ideas of valid users. In the future, blockchain
may be combined with AI so that decision making can be
automated without human interaction. In AI, related records
are collected and trained and a pattern is extracted from the
data. Blockchain can provide a huge volume of data, and AI
can provide more reliability and security of data.
After reviewing trends in the literature, we found the fol-
lowing directions:
To reduce the confirmation time, transactions can be
configured and processed in parallel.
A payment is verified when the payment details are
attached to a block in the blockchain.
Because the size of the blockchain can be increased and
contains the entire transaction history, the blockchain
should be editable. For example, data from the distant
past that has no future value should be removable from
the blockchain.
A. POLICY AND GOVERNANCE
The lack of policy implications is one of the challenges in
the adoption of blockchain technology. Policymakers need
to examine the current state of blockchain technology and
the related policy issues. We have explained and listed some
directions of policy implications for blockchain-based appli-
cations. Examples of the use of blockchain in policies of
different countries are shown in Table 3.
1) TRANSPORTATION
Fagnant and Kockelman recommended some policies
for autonomous vehicles, such as research funding, certi-
fication guidelines, and appropriate standards for safety
and privacy [141]. Policymakers can apply these recom-
mendations to blockchain-based transportation systems.
Privacy is one of the constraints in ITS deployment [38].
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a
law introduced in Europe. By implementing this law,
users can protect their data in a blockchain-based ITS.
Maintaining policy is one of the critical success factors
for implementing a blockchain-based ITS [142]. Poli-
cies will help in making decisions and taking actions to
preserve the ownership of digital records.
2) IoT
Smart contracts help blockchain-enabled IoT networks
secure records. This application requires proper agree-
ment and the regulatory stipulations of contract law.
Smart contracts need time-, service-, and location-based
policies for 5G mobile networks [143].
3) FINANCE
Blockchain transaction policies form an important
framework for blockchain adoption. They influence the
retail market for the implementation of this emerging
technology [144].
To find the optimal outcome and limit market failure,
a certain policy approach is needed to implement the
new technology. Some countries have enacted policies
for blockchain adoption referred to as cryptofriendly.
4) SECURITY AND PRIVACY
In a private blockchain, users can store data automat-
ically by applying their policies. This will increase
security by limiting manual interactions. The authors
proposed a framework known as PleBeuS that stores
data in a specific blockchain based on policy (input)
from users [145].
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F. A. Sunny et al.: Systematic Review of Blockchain Applications
TABLE 3. Blockchain applications in policies of different countries.
Data owners may take responsibility for providing
access policies and data encryption. Users can decrypt
the data based on a hidden policy.
A structured security policy specification is a non-
functional security requirement for blockchain 5G
networks [143].
5) HEALTHCARE
Blockchain can be an adaptive technology in health-
care systems by introducing a regulatory sandbox
system [146].
6) SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT
Each government should create a public policy for
blockchain-based applications [147]. This will increase
the use of blockchain through security and trust.
7) EDUCATION
Zhou et al. analyzed some challenges and policy implications
for the maritime industry in Singapore [148]; they found
that policies for blockchain-based applications should be pre-
pared to encourage the use of this technology; some policies
can be developed to revive the implementation of blockchain
in educational applications:
A lack of trained people is one of the constraints in the
adoption of blockchain technology. Educational institu-
tions need to train their staff in blockchain.
Institutions need to put in place rules to record educa-
tional resources using the new technology.
Policymakers can support educational programs and
organize conferences to promote the use of blockchain
technology. Experts and researchers in the field of
blockchain can be invited to participate in promotional
activities.
VI. CONCLUSION
Blockchain is a decentralized technology that can be merged
with many technologies, such as the IoT, smart contracts,
cryptography, and cloud computing. It was first introduced
with Bitcoin but is now available with other applications
where trust and high-speed transactions are the main con-
cerns. We have explored the importance and benefits of
implementing blockchain technology in various domains,
such as the IoT, supply chain, financial sector, education, and
healthcare. We tried to analyze the potential implications of
blockchain in different industries. After reviewing the latest
research papers, we found that blockchain technology is a
boon for organizations but has some drawbacks, as well.
Many researchers have identified problems, such as a high
transaction confirmation time and high costs of implementa-
tion. It is problematic to just assume that the disadvantages of
blockchain have been mitigated and that all client encounters
will be perfect. All things being equal, blockchains are useful
when full decentralization is essential. Before introducing a
new technology, stakeholders should determine their require-
ments and the impacts and drawbacks of the technology on
their transactions.
We found that the focus in the traditional financial appli-
cation domain has shifted toward the banking and tourism
industries. Similarly, mobile applications and the automo-
tive industry have become key research themes in the
security and privacy application domain. Blockchain in edu-
cation has become a hot research theme in 2021 owing
to the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast to an earlier
application-based review study by Casino et al. [13], we rec-
ognized that transportation-based applications were a cru-
cial blockchained-based research theme. Other potentially
important research themes were telemedicine and the drug
supply chain within the healthcare domain. We identified
emerging government agendas and IoT industrial applica-
tions for these domains. Big data in smart cities would pro-
vide fertile ground for the certification of blockchain usage.
Further studies need to explore the conceivable specialized
difficulties of blockchain in smart transportation and smart
city development. To build on these recommendations, there
should be solid, well-established instructional resources and
activities. Likewise, building an action plan when imple-
menting blockchain, including the unmistakable idea of how
a blockchain-based action plan creates value, raises new
difficulties.
Although this study is based on applications of blockchain
in various industries, this work has some limitations in terms
of methodologic narrowing. This research did not analyze
the sources of each publication. In future work, this analysis
may include a broader view of the implications of blockchain.
Scalability analysis was also not considered for blockchain-
based solutions. Despite some limitations, this research can
help researchers explore blockchain for future implications.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief, handling
editor and anonymous reviewers for their substantial contri-
butions to improve this article.
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FARHANA AKTER SUNNY received the B.Sc.
degree (Hons.) in information technology and
the M.Sc. degree in information technology from
Jahangirnagar University. She was a Lecturer at
the Department of Computer Science and Engi-
neering, European University of Bangladesh. She
is working as a Lecturer (Senior Level) with
the Department of Computer Science and Engi-
neering, Green University of Bangladesh. She
is a member of Computing and Communication
Research Group, CSE, GUB. She has published six research papers in
different international conferences. Her research interests include wireless
communication, internet of things (IoT), cognitive radio communication,
millimeter wave communication, and block chain technology.
PETR HAJEK was born in Duchcov,
Czech Republic, in 1980. He received the B.S. and
M.S. degrees in economic policy and the Ph.D.
degree in system engineering and informatics
from the University of Pardubice, Pardubice, in
2003 and 2006, respectively. From 2006 to 2012,
he was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of System
Engineering and Informatics. Since 2012, he has
been an Associate Professor with the Science
and Research Centre, Faculty of Economics and
Administration, University of Pardubice. He is the author of three books and
more than 90 articles. His research interests include soft computing, machine
learning, and economic modeling. He was a recipient of the Rector Award for
Scientific Excellence, in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and six the Best Paper
Awards at international scientific conferences. He is an associate editor of
five journals.
MICHAL MUNK received the M.S. degree in
mathematics and informatics and the Ph.D. degree
in mathematics from Constantine the Philosopher
University in Nitra, Slovakia, in 2003 and 2007,
respectively. In 2018, he was a Professor of sys-
tem engineering and informatics at the Faculty
of Informatics and Management, University of
Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. He is currently
a Professor with the Department of Informatics,
Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra.
He is the also Head of the Knowledge Discovery Research Group. His
research interests include data analysis, web mining, and natural language
processing.
MOHAMMAD ZOYNUL ABEDIN is a Senior
Lecturer of fintech and financial innovation
with the Teesside University International Busi-
ness School, Teesside University, U.K. He has
advanced analytical skills for both quantitative and
qualitative research. He is an experienced Data
Analyst and Project Evaluator, and specializes
in fintech, data mining, big data analytics, deep
learning, machine learning, energy analytics, sus-
tainability, climate analytics, and implications in
4th industrial revolution. He is actively engaged in research activities and
project dissemination across various disciplines nationally and internation-
ally. He regularly engages with local communities, SMEs, public, and private
sector organizations. He has published more than 70 research papers that
includes full-length papers, conference papers, book chapters and edited
book. His research works appeared on the leading peer-reviewed journals,
including IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL INFORMATICS,Annals of Opera-
tions Research,International Journal of Production Research,International
Journal of Finance and Economics,Research in International Business and
Finance,Complex & Intelligent Systems, and IEEE ACCESS. He has edited
the book on The Essentials of Machine Learning in Finance and Accounting
(Taylor & Francis, U.K.) and a Guest Editor of the Annals of Operations
Research,Finance Research Letters, and Journal of International Financial
Markets, Institutions & Money.
59176 VOLUME 10, 2022
F. A. Sunny et al.: Systematic Review of Blockchain Applications
MD. SHAHRIARE SATU received the B.Sc.
(Hons.) and M.Sc. degrees in information tech-
nology (IT) from Janagirnagar University, in
2015 and 2017, respectively. From 2016 to 2018,
he was a Lecturer at the Department of Computer
Science and Engineering, Gono Bishwabidyalay,
Bangladesh. He is currently working as a Lecturer
with the Department of Management Information
Systems, Noakhali Science and Technology Uni-
versity, Noakhali, Bangladesh. He has published
various top tier peer-reviewed research articles at national and international
journals, conference proceedings, and chapters of books. His research inter-
ests include machine learning, health informatics, business analytics, deep
learning, and big data analytics.
MD. IFTEKHARUL ALAM EFAT (Member,
IEEE) the B.Sc. degree in information technology
(major in software engineering) and the M.Sc.
degree in software engineering from the Institute
of Information Technology (IIT), University of
Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was a Senior Lecturer
at the Department of Software Engineering, Daf-
fodil International University, Bangladesh. He is
an Assistant Director of the Research and Col-
laboration Department, Software Evolution and
Re-Engineering Research Laboratory. He is an Assistant Professor with
the Institute of Information Technology, Noakhali Science and Technology
University, Bangladesh. He has published various research articles at national
and international journals, conference proceedings, and chapters of books.
His research interests include machine learning, deep learning, natural lan-
guage processing, and signal processing.
MD. JAHIDUL ISLAM received the B.Sc. and
M.Sc. degrees in computer science and engineer-
ing from Jagannath University (JnU), Dhaka, in
2015 and 2017, respectively. Since May 2017,
he has been a Lecturer and a Program Coordi-
nator (Day) with the Department of Computer
Science and Engineering (CSE), Green Univer-
sity of Bangladesh (GUB), Dhaka, Bangladesh.
He is a member of Computing and Communication
and Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) Research
Groups, CSE, GUB. His research interests include internet of things (IoT),
blockchain, network function virtualization (NFV), software defined net-
working (SDN), digital forensic investigation (DFI), HCI, and wireless mesh
networking (WMN).
VOLUME 10, 2022 59177
... An added functionality of blockchain with an increased importance is smart contracts and a recent illustrative review is given in [4]. Applications of blockchain technology record a huge increase and a recent overview is given in [5]. ...