As far as buzzwords go in 2017, “bitcoin” is probably near the top of the list. But this post is not about encrypted, decentralized payment systems. It’s about the framework beneath cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin known as blockchain.
Explaining the technical aspects of blockchain can get complicated pretty quickly. But, in a nutshell, think of blockchain as a digital ledger that is shared across a network to facilitate the tracking of transactions or exchanged goods. In the currency world, a blockchain substitutes a traditional central banking system in an attempt to make transactions more secure and efficient. But blockchain is not limited to currency and payments. Virtually anything can be recorded and tracked in a blockchain network. Anything, such as goods in a supply chain. So, as you can imagine, blockchain networks open up many exciting possibilities in the logistics industry.
Blockchain networks are an exciting prospect because, among many other capabilities, they can help improve both the security and efficiency of a supply chain. It can help make shipping more secure because of the open, decentralized nature of the technology. For example, imagine a common supply chain and all its moving parts: shipper, carrier, truck driver, recipient, manufacturer, warehouse, customs agent, government agencies, and so on. As part of a blockchain network, the supply chain’s ledger would be open to anyone involved in the shipment, minimizing the possibility of any single party hiding errors or delays.
This openness that is inherent to blockchain can also help make supply chains more efficient. Think about tracking shipments, for example. As every entity that handles any given shipment would be part of the blockchain, it would be easier truly real-time tracking, especially in shipments that go through a supply chain with many points.
Blockchain is still relatively new but with the ever-growing popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s certain to become more of a household name in the years to come. We’re definitely keeping an eye on it to see how it might in a near future help make our platform even better, more transparent and more efficient.
There’s certainly much more to learn about blockchain and its applications. If you’re up for the challenge, IBM offers a free “Blockchain for Dummies” e-book that’s a great place to start. Get it here!
Content Creator: Pablo Torres