Will it transform how businesses track goods?
Blockchain, the technology originally created to support bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is being applied to numerous other business functions, and advocates call it potentially transformative. The qualities of transparency, decentralization and inalterability that made blockchain work for cryptocurrencies also make it useful for applications ranging from documenting shipping manifests to tracing food production and managing inventory and supply chains. Several major corporations are investing in blockchain and exploring its uses, including IBM, Walmart, Accenture, the shipper Maersk and diamond producers De Beers and Alrosa. Yet skeptics question whether blockchain offers anything unique, and some experts say it will take many years for the technology to develop and spread.
Some key takeaways include:
Blockchain’s designers seek to prevent hacking and fraud by requiring that multiple users accept a transaction as valid before it can be included in the digital ledger.
One of the technology’s biggest boosters, Overstock founder Patrick Byrne, has said he plans to sell his e-retailer and devote his fortune to blockchain.
Potential obstacles to blockchain’s development include the adequacy of its speed, whether individual blockchains can communicate and the possibility of government regulation.
Resources for Further Study
Eha, Brian Patrick, “How Money Got Free: Bitcoin and the Fight for the Future of Finance,” Oneworld, 2017. A former editor at Entrepreneur Magazine recalls the early days of cryptocurrency and blockchain, and the rogue’s gallery of actors who populated it.
Huizinga, Redmer, and Arturo Bris, “Blockchange! How to Survive the Crypto Economy,” IMD Lausanne, 2018. Management experts at the Swiss business school argue that blockchain is a new technological framework that will form the basis for numerous changes in how we do business.
Mougayar, William, “The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology,” Wiley, 2016. A venture capitalist offers a vision of how the technology can transform business.
Darrow, Barb, “At the Ripe Age of 105, IBM Seeks to Reinvent Itself – Again,” Fortune, June 16, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/
Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani, “The Truth About Blockchain,” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Marr, Bernard, “How Blockchain Will Transform the Supply Chain and Logistics Industry,” Forbes, March 23, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Wladawsky-Berger, Irving, “Blockchain Beyond the Hype,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 19, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Blockchain/DLT: A game-changer in managing MNCs intercompany transaction,” IBM, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Auer, Raphael, and Stijn Claessens, “Regulating cryptocurrencies: assessing market reactions,” BIS Quarterly Review, September 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Nakamoto, Satoshi, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” bitcoin.org, 2008, https://tinyurl.com/
Schatsky, David, Amanpreet Arora and Aniket Dongre, “Blockchain and the five vectors of progress,” Deloitte Insights, Sept. 28, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
“Ugandan Firm Uses Blockchain To Trace Coffee From Farms To Stores,” Forbes Africa, Jan. 24, 2019, https://tinyurl.com/
Paton, Elizabeth, “Will Blockchain Be a Boon to the Jewelry Industry?” The New York Times, Nov. 30, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Pupazzoni, Rachel, “How blockchain tracking technology could revolutionise Australia’s food industry,” Australian Broadcasting Corp. News, updated Jan. 17, 2019, https://tinyurl.com/
Baydakova, Anna, “Overstock Venture Chief Expects Market for Blockchain Products in 2019,” CoinDesk, Dec. 13, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Rooney, Kate, “72-year-old Fidelity bets on the future with blockchain, virtual reality and AI,” CNBC, updated Oct. 2, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Sharma, Ridhima, “Swiss fintech raises $2m for blockchain project,” Investment Europe, Jan. 30, 2019, https://tinyurl.com/
BECON/Blockchain Ecosystem Network
Guiness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8, Ireland
+353 1 4100 600
A global and cross-sector platform for collaboration, networking, explaining and advancing blockchain methodologies and solutions.
c/o Jason Weinstein, Steptoe & Johnson, 1330 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20036
A public-private forum for open dialogue among industry, law enforcement and regulatory agencies to help combat criminal activity on the blockchain.
Chamber of Digital Commerce
1133 15th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005
An advocacy group for blockchain and digital assets. It co-sponsors the DC Blockchain Center, a resource for technology providers and governments investing in blockchain-based technologies.
Global Blockchain Business Council
1440 G St., N.W., 9th floor, Washington, DC 20005
An industry association that seeks to advance understanding of blockchain technology and promote its adoption.
Hyperledger Project, Linux Foundation
1 Letterman Drive, Building D, Suite D4700, San Francisco, CA 94129
An open-source project for blockchain and related tools operated by the Linux Foundation, a resource for developing applications using the Linux operating system.
Wall Street Blockchain Alliance
355 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017
Trade association that works to promote adoption of blockchain technology by financial markets throughout the world.