Applications and Use Cases

IBM: Re-inventing Stagnant Markets with Blockchain


January 30, 2019

IBM’s Blockchain Service Leader Pramod Achanta kicked off this year’s edition of The Blockchain Event in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this morning.  His message?  Blockchain is very real and, while it may not (yet) be the solution to every problem plaguing businesses, it does help several key issues that exhibit themselves across multiple markets:  inefficiency, high cost, and data vulnerability.

“We believe blockchain is a transformative technology that can get to the heart of this problem and solve it,” Achanta said. 

Because of its unique combination of characteristics including transparency, immutability, and immediacy, blockchain does, in fact, have the ability to change businesses in ways no other technology has previously.  One of the keys is the fact that once a transaction has been recorded, nobody can change it.  This helps build trusted relationships and instills confidence that data and information is secure – something that challenges businesses on a daily basis, considering the number of attacks and breaches we’ve seen.

It’s all about enabling trust, creating new revenue streams, removing barriers, and reinventing businesses, says Achanta.  His list of key hotspots for blockchain projects include

What are some of the proven hotspots for blockchain? 

  • Supply chain
  • Dispute resolution & reconciliation
  • Payments
  • Trade
  • Identity
  • Digital advertising
  • Loyalty/Rewards programs
  • Finance/Procurement

But, he also pointed out that the value of blockchain grows as multiple networks are connected, and pointed to three separate projects IBM has been involved with.

With its Food Trust solution, a group of recognized brands in the food supply chain have collaborated to create a more efficient food supply chain.  When you look at the recent romaine lettuce contamination situation, it’s evident that tracking supply is almost impossible, which means retailers typically have to recourse but to take their entire supply off the shelves, not knowing for certain whether theirs is impacted or not.  Food Trust leverages blockchain to create a much more resilient supply chain that tracks where products are at any time so, in a case of identified contamination, specific inventories can be immediately pulled, saving time and cost.

With TradeLens, IBM and nearly 100 participants are improving in=transit inventory management to move shipments through traditional bottlenecks much more rapidly.  “It’s like and EasyPass for shipping,” Achanta explained.  “There’s no more stuck shipments due to missing paperwork and everyone will be able to know much more precisely when shipments will arrive.”

We.Trade is a consortium of 14 European banks that were tasked with finding better financing options for small and mid-sized enterprises.  The blockchain-based solution connects suppliers and buyers on a blockchain network to provide easier and more efficient financing for SMEs, with all documentation stored on the blockchain and helps drive additional and better better financing options.

“By combining TradeLens, FoodTrust, and We.Trade, each of the network participants is able to even further increase their process efficiencies and drive productivity and value,” explained Achanta.  “It’s really about streamlining streamlining industries that have been in existence for centuries, but have become very inefficient.”


Edited by Erik Linask

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