Blockchains and distributed ledgers are being piloted by organizations from Walmart to Goldman Sachs to Maersk. We take a look at how the technology will be implemented. We also look at how a few governments and non-profits are using the tech.
Digitized, secure, and tamper-proof blockchain ledgers are promising to disrupt the database as we know it.
Many corporations still work using a web of fax machines, handwriting, and siloed databases spread across disparate countries and contractors. The resulting complexity is ripe for disruption, and corporate giants are betting that decentralized systems can help.
We previously analyzed the 35+ industries where burgeoning blockchain startups are looking to make an impact. Here we look at the pilots being implemented by big corporations, governments, and organizations.
1. Microsoft is partnering with ID2020 Alliance
Microsoft has voiced support for the ID2020 Alliance, a public-private partnership designed to solve the widespread lack of identity documentation. The partnership’s mission is to aid the 1.1B people around the world without legal forms of ID.
To that end, the software giant is collaborating with Accenture and Avanade on a blockchain-based identity prototype that uses Microsoft Azure.
2. GOLDMAN SACHS IS SETTING UP A CRYPTOCURRENCY TRADING DESK
Goldman Sachs is reportedly setting up a cryptocurrency trading desk in New York that will be running by the end of June 2018, if not earlier.
The bank also mentioned it is considering securing the custody of the coins. CEO Lloyd Blankfein previously tweeted, “Still thinking about
#Bitcoin. No conclusion — not endorsing/rejecting. Know that folks also were skeptical when paper money displaced gold.”
3. MINING GIANT BHP BILLITON IS IMPLEMENTING A BLOCKCHAIN TO MANAGE CONTRACT WORK AND ANALYSIS
With the help of Blockapps and Consensys, the world’s largest mining company BHP Billiton will use blockchain to record the movements of wellbore rock and fluid samples, and better secure real-time data.
BHP relies on outside vendors throughout the mining process, contracting with geologists and shipping companies across continents to collect samples and conduct analyses.
BHP will insist its contractors contribute to its Ethereum-based system and host its internal files on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a peer-to-peer file storing protocol that is frequently used with blockchain projects.
4. MAERSK IS TEAMING UP WITH HYPERLEDGER FOR A JOINT VENTURE
Yet to be named, the NYC-based joint venture will aim to help shippers, ports, customs offices, banks, and other stakeholders in global supply chains track freight and replace related paperwork with tamper-resistant digital records.
Shipping supply chains are bogged down by paperwork shuffled between middlemen. Documentation, when lost or delayed, causes perishable goods to spoil. Blockchain integration could have a further-reaching effect on global trade efficiency, since maritime logistics companies help transport 90% of globally traded goods.
In September, Maersk also partnered with blockchain startup GuardTime, which worked with Microsoft and EY, and insurance companies ACORD, Willis Towers Watson, MS Amlin, and XL Catlin to launch a marine insurance blockchain platform.
5. UPS, FEDEX, AND BNSF RAILWAY JOIN BITA ALLIANCE
UPS, FedEx, BNSF Railway (owned by Berkshire Hathaway), and Schneider Trucking are just a few of the 200+ big names in an alliance exploring blockchain technologies in freight transport.
The consortium aims to bring together companies in the freight industry and develop a standards framework while testing out blockchain applications.
6. PETROTEQ CREATES DISTRUBTED LEDGER FOR PEMEX (THE FIRST PETROLEUM COMPANY TO ACCEPT CRYPTO)
Pemex, the Mexican state-owned proleum company, will assist oil & gas tech company Petroteq in developing an industry-specific supply chain management (SCM) software.
Pemex made headlines as the first petroleum company to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. It also employs 100,000 people and has a complicated web of suppliers and business operations.
The Petroteq project — an enterprise-grade, blockchain-based platform called PetroBLOQ — will enable oil and gas companies to conduct global transactions.
7. UBS, BARCLAYS, CREDIT SUISSE, AND OTHERS ARE PILOTING COMPLIANCE PLATFORM ON ETHEREUM
Swiss bank UBS is leading a pilot that aims to automate regulatory requirments for the MiFID II/MiFIR rules that take effect in 2018.
Built on a private Ethereum blockchain, the participating banks will be able to anonymously cross-reference Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) data.
Member banks will be able to quality-check their data on legal entities and better comply with the new rules.
Banks have also been experimenting with blockchain as a way to expedite back office functions and settlement, which some in the industry say could cut up to $20B in middleman costs.
8. WALMART, TYSON, UNILEVER, NESTLE, KROGER, DOLE, MCCORMICK, AND OTHERS BAND TOGETHER FOR BLOCKCHAIN PILOT
Walmart has been working with IBM since 2016, and said it helped reduce the time to track mango shipments from 7 days to 2.2 seconds.
With 9 other big food suppliers joining the IBM project, the food industry — where collaboration is rare — could also be better aligned for safety recalls.
Kroger’s head of food safety Howard Popoola told Reuters, “This is an opportunity for us to speak with one voice and say to the world that food safety is not going to be a competitive issue.”
9.THE UNITED NATIONS EXPLORES DLTS AND BLOCKCHAINS FOR HUMANITARIAN AID AND CLIMATE SCIENCE
The UN’s Climate Change Coalition is researching how distributed ledger technology (DLT) could improve its climate change initiatives. Presently, the coalition is aiming to create a transparent system for climate data, emissions data, and how carbon is being traded.
A distributed ledger could insulate climate data from political volatility. Last year, many U.S. scientists worried federal research libraries would be shuttered and their data altered or deleted with the new EPA head.
The U.N. previously developed a project using the ethereum blockchain that sent humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. The World Food Programme used the blockchain to distribute ethereum-based food vouchers that could be redeemed at markets.
10. TEPCO INVESTED AND PARTNERED WITH ELECTRON
UK-based Electron recently saw investment from TEPCO, Japan’s largest utility provider. Currently, the energy industry uses disparate infrastructure for balancing, settlement, and registration. Electron hopes to encourage the industry to shift these functions to shared blockchains.
Electron could serve as the record-keeper where energy providers go to get information on assets and record transactional changes. Its metering service could also be deployed to other utilities including telecom and water.
11. ILLINOIS GOVERNMENT PILOTING LEDGERS FOR LICENSING
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which manages physician licensing, is exploring a pilot with Hashed Health to reduce internal complexity.
The project aims to digitize medical credential data and smart contracts to automate workflow related to multistate and interstate licensure in Illinois.
12. BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT IS EXPERIMENTING WITH UPORT
Brazil’s Ministry of Planning, Budget, and Management is piloting a blockchain identity application using uPort, a self-sovereign ID platform built by ConsenSys.
The ethereum-based identity platform will allow users to manage their own profiles and the Ministry will be able to better determine the legitimacy of personal documents.
13. EVERNYM IS WORKING WITH DEPARTMENT HOMELAND SECURITY AND ILLINOIS GOVERNMENT
Salt Lake City-based Evernym was given a grant for $794,000 last year by Homeland Security’s small business program, and also is working with the Illinois Government’s Blockchain Initiative to pilot a birth certificate registration system.