Blockchain Meets Femtech
Aggiornamento: 5 feb 2022
Hello Femtechers! This post is going to summarise what we’ve learnt about the use of blockchain in femtech ventures and how women can get involved in blockchain for their career and own information management.
Firstly we need to understand what blockchain is about. A blockchain is a distributed database that stores information electronically in a digital format. Unlike a normal database, information on a blockchain is stored in time-stamped blocks of data, which are linked together via cryptography forming a chain - hence the name blockchain. Different types of data can be stored on a blockchain, but the most common use so far has been as a ledger for transactions, whereby a blockchain is used to store a shared, immutable record of transactions. Thus, blockchain technology is separate from cryptocurrencies, although many cryptocurrencies rely on blockchain. As an example, Bitcoin is a payment network enabling the storage and exchange of value in the form of cryptocurrency, which is also employed to incentivise participants validating new transactions.
Most cryptocurrencies run on a public blockchain, which can be joined by anyone. Examples of public blockchains include those designed for safe exchange of documents and negotiations. Private blockchains also exist: they require additional permission to join and are designed to optimise specific multi-stakeholder processes and transactions.
Overall, the use of blockchain technology can enhance democratisation, transparency, accountability, and sustainability across the supply chain. This also allows saving time and resources that more traditional methods require (paperwork, middle men).
Femtech companies are starting to implement blockchain technology in their business to take advantage of these features. An example is the case of Eggschain, a healthcare technology company leader in the fertility, health tech, and cryogenic preservation industries. Eggschain is the first blockchain-integrated inventory management and chain of custody technology for tracking and tracing the storage of biospecimens, including sperm and eggs. Using blockchain, Eggschain is therefore tackling issues related to human error, timely protocols and centralisation when it comes to handling of sensitive information. Eggschain has recently announced their partnership with Boston IVF, expanding their clinics in the US.
Eggschain is an example of how female-health related companies can implement blockchain in their business models. However, a study published by LongHash in 2018 showed that among 100 blockchain startups, female employees accounted for just 14.5% (https://blockchain.uark.edu/women-in-blockchain/). Important public blockchains such as Algorand are fully committed to diversity and inclusion, and offer many training opportunities for women interested in learning more about blockchain or considering blockchain as a career (https://algorand.foundation/ecosystem/education). Our hope is that as more women become involved in blockchain we will also see more femtech companies implementing blockchain in their business!