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I was reading this article "Why Many Smart Contract Use Cases Are Simply Impossible" (here at coindesk.com) about how many ideas for smart contracts are impossible to implement in practice.

The author does not say that smart contracts are not useful for anything at all, but just that many of the ideas are not well suited for smart contracts.

He writes that

The problem with smart contracts isn’t just that people’s expectations are overblown, it's that these expectations are leading many to spend time and money on ideas that cannot possibly be implemented.

...

Over the past nine months, we've been pitched many smart contract use cases, and have found ourselves responding, time and again, that they simply cannot be done.

This made me think, are there any examples of successful implementations of smart contracts in use by any industry?

(I mean outside of the work smart contracts may do in the standard Ethereum network.)

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In my opinion the problem is that the idea of smart contracts is too new. It's difficult to imagine use cases for something totally new and revolutionary.

The answer also depends a bit on your idea of "succesful". If you're thinking in financial terms, you can look at Cryptokitties or (most likely) Etherbots. If you're thinking about something that would be available for 'normal' users, then it's still too early for that. All these bigger implementations are still for 'special' users who already know how to use Ethereum and have probably bought some Ether from an exchange.

About the linked article: some of the presented "ideas" are just silly - why would someone even consider (public or even private) blockchain as a place to store confidential data.

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One area where there has been a bit of work on smart contracts is for clinical trials, not mentioned in this writeup. For instance, this article is an interesting start:

Improving data transparency in clinical trials using blockchain smart contract, by Timothy Nugent, David Upton, and Mihai Cimpoesu.

Also, IEEE Standards did a short video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfbFaU5KoUs&feature=youtu.be

  • I just returned from the IEEE forum on this topic. It was a one-day event, and they advertised it would be limited to 50 participants, but actually they closed it off when they got around 100 and filled the available space. So there is a lot of interest in blockchains for clinical trials and other areas pertaining to medicine. – Fred Douglis Feb 13 '18 at 18:40

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