Blockchain technology is quickly changing the way business is being done nowadays. Some are hailing it to be the most important invention since the dawn of the Internet, and for good reason.
What exactly is blockchain?
Blockchain, in a nutshell, is essentially a tamperproof, publicly-available digital ledger. Without getting into the technical specifics, it’s basically a decentralized database of records that anyone can inspect, but not alter. Updating these records requires a consensus of a majority of the participants involved.
Blockchain technology is commonly associated with Bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies, but it can also have applications in other fields and industries. Already, this secure record-keeping technology is being employed in supply chain management firms.
What are the benefits of blockchain for supply chains?
Blockchain’s accessibility, integrity, and transparency are its most prominent features. Transactions involving transportation, warehousing, and payment can benefit greatly from the application of the technology. Blockchain can make supply chains much more streamlined and transparent.
Ease of access
As a digital ledger, blockchain can possibly accommodate any number of participants from anywhere. All transactions and their details can be easily accessed by any user.
Integrity of records
All participants in the chain have a consensus on the validity of the transactions. Nobody can tamper or falsify these records. Only a new transaction can reverse the effect of an old transaction.
Transparency of sources
The blockchain stores data involving each asset’s origins. Participants are given information on who owned these assets before and when. This knowledge can be useful in determining whether goods are fair trade, or whether a food product is sourced organically.
What are the current applications of blockchain in supply chains nowadays?
Major US retailer Walmart is currently taking advantage of blockchain technology to track pork meat sales in China. The system allows Walmart to see where their meat is sourced from, as well as all the other important details such as processing, storage, and sale dates.
China’s Alibaba Group has just recently rolled out a blockchain database to combat counterfeit Australian and New Zealand food items. The conglomerate has teamed up with Australian vitamin brand Blackmores and New Zealand dairy brand Fonterra.
IBM has partnered with jewelry-maker Richline Group to track the provenance of precious metals and gems with the goal of promoting ethical fair trade.