In previous articles, we went through an “Introduction to Business Blockchain” and summarized the “Technical Characteristics of Blockchain“. In this latest installment of the series, we will focus on the most widespread usage patterns and analyze a flagship case of Supply Chain, aside from Decentralized Finance (DeFi).
When analyzing the use that is being given to Blockchain in the corporate sphere, it is possible to detect some common and recurring usage patterns:
Banking and Finance
DeFi includes digital assets, protocols, smart contracts, and Distributed Applications (dApps). It is the original use case and it involves everything related to cryptocurrencies and the financial world in general. We can mention Ripple, a global network of electronic payments, with the support of institutions such as Santander, Itaú, American Express, among others. Another example is Santander One Pay FX, a Blockchain network to streamline international transfers.
After DeFi, it is the most popular use case. Blockchain allows the complete traceability of any good, from the producer to the final consumer, be it raw materials, food or medicine, in the case of Pharmacovigilance. IoT (Internet-of-Things) devices are also commonly used for automated registration in different stages of a workflow. There are already numerous success stories in several industries, such as food (Walmart and later IBM Food Trust is the most emblematic cases that we will analyze), pharmaceuticals (Novartis), automotive (Ford, BMW, Tesla), among others.
Leveraging immutability, one of the distinctive characteristics of Blockchain, stored transactions cannot be modified at a later stage, which allows a complete audit of critical information. This is used in Fraud Prevention, Claims Management, Insurance (BBVA), Health (EHR, Medical Records Management with projects such as MedicalChain & MedRec) and Pharmacovigilance (for example, the Pharmaledger project).
Currently, many governments around the world are conducting research on how to take advantage of the benefits of Blockchain in Citizen Identity systems, voting, budgets, and public tenders to increase the efficiency and transparency of the State. Latin America strives not to be left behind, and many developments are already underway. Argentina has several projects on the Argentine Federal Blockchain network (BFA), such as sessions of Deputies in Congress, Central Bank Complaints Registry, Citizen Files in the City of Buenos Aires, among others. Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay are also making strides. Globally, the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, plans to become a fully Blockchain-governed, paperless city by 2021 through the Smart Dubai project.
Many institutions use Blockchain for the certification and validation of all types of workforce, personal and educational records (Citizen Files in Buenos Aires).
In a new human-centered model, people take control of their information, centralize it to decide who can access their data. For example, patients own their complete Medical Records and can give access to them to the professional who needs them (EHR MedicalChain & MedRec), citizens can share their credentials (Sovereign Digital Identity projects in Argentina, Data Sharing Toolkit in UAE, etc.)
Blockchain is used for the management of digital assets, in the exchange of all kinds of goods between individuals or entities, such as tickets to shows (UEFA & Ticketmaster), loyalty program points (American Express), real estate (UK Land Registry in England), etc.
This technology is used to create records with date, time and authorship, to optimize the management of Intellectual Property. Used by Kodak with Photo Tracking and Spotify Mediachain to accurately attribute songs to creators.
Use Case: Food Supply Chain
Among the many use cases of Blockchain, its application in a supply chain is one of the most emblematic, and developments can be seen in all industries.
In a food supply chain, multiple actors have involved: farmers, ranchers, suppliers, cooperatives, packers, transporters, exporters, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and, lastly, the final consumer. Health safety is one of the biggest concerns in the food industry. Like the pharmaceutical industry, the food sector faces increased regulatory pressure from government agencies.
Walmart is a pioneer in this field, having tried several times to create a system that allows for transparency and complete traceability in the food system, which was finally accomplished in 2016. Blockchain, with its decentralized and shared ledger, seemed tailor-made for the Company’s needs. Walmart began working with its technology partner IBM on a food traceability system based on Hyperledger Fabric. For the Chinese pork industry, it allowed uploading certificates of authenticity, which gives more confidence to a system where certificates used to be a serious problem. For mangoes in the United States, the time needed to trace their origin went from 7 days… to 2 seconds!
The newly developed system allows users to know the exact origin of each item (to control disease outbreaks) in seconds, discarding only products from the affected farms. For example, it allows customers to scan a jar of baby food to see where it was made, tracing all the ingredients back to the farms.
As a result, the IBM Food Trust was launched, involving multiple companies such as Nestlé and Unilever. This platform allows access to the following information in real-time:
- Inventory at each location.
- The freshness of each product.
- Average time on the shelf.
Blockchain allows a product to be traced through the different industrial, logistical, and administrative operations, from the beginning of the process to the end, and vice versa. In this way, a secure and distributed record can be consolidated with the history of every actor in the chain, their exchanges during the production and distribution processes of the product, managing information in a reliable and tamper-proof manner. As automatic transactions have no intermediaries (such as banks), they allow for faster settlements under conditions set forth in smart contracts.
IoT and Blockchain combined offer great benefits. Sensors can capture a variety of data in manufacturing facilities or transportation, transmitting all the information to a centralized repository in real-time. In turn, Managers can gain a multitude of new insights into material usage, transport conditions, etc., and apply them in planning/optimization efforts. Producers can use IoT to register the entire growth process of the product (food, pesticides, humidity, storage, location). Carriers can automatically ensure that products are moved under the right conditions of temperature, humidity, etc., thus achieving better visibility into overall logistics.
Throughout this 3-articles series, we learned about Blockchain technology and its application in the business environment. We were able to understand its basic operation, the most prominent platforms and its current application in many industries.
How can Huenei help your business with Blockchain?
- Consultancy: We help you choose the technology that best suits your needs.
- Architecture: Definition, deployment, and start-up.
- Development: Smart contracts and complete systems based on Blockchain.
We work with you from the planning and definition of requirements to the start-up of the final project.