What started as a rogue experiment in the financial world has not only proven successful but is changing the way the world is looking at securing transactions today. Bitcoin and its underlying principle of utilizing the concept of cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers to ensure the sanctity of financial transactions has transcended from the financial industry into the world of consumer industries. Essentially, every industry that sees a lot of transactions between different parties or where reconciliations is a problem can benefit from this new sheriff in town, blockchain, that is here to tie things to order!
Blockchain is iron-cladding transactions that used to be a leap of faith before. It’s enabling organizations to operate not only on trust but also verify that trust. With increasing adoption of blockchain in finance and availability of supporting eco system, organizations have started using blockchain outside of finance and are doing it all quite successfully.
A lot of companies in the retail, consumer goods, transportation and logistics sectors have started limited evaluation pilots using blockchain. While the use cases for blockchain can differ by industry, the rule of thumb is - any process that requires trustworthy transactions between multiple parties, is an ideal candidate for blockchain.
For example, in retail tracking merchandise from production to shelves to homes has always been a challenge and has kept retailers intrigued. Blockchain can provide some of the answers by helping build a strong underlying track and trace construct that can tie the entire supply chain from source to the customer and beyond. It can provide the ability to execute a product recall with pin-point precision not just in store but even at the consumer end. It provides retailers a direct channel to reach out to the consumer regarding a product advisory or recall. Until today, that direct line of communication was not possible. Newer methods of running loyalty campaigns and digital coupon management are becoming possible entirely because of blockchain. Customer trust and loyalty is the payback! Reverse logistics, warranty management and inventory tracking are some of the other impactful application areas of this technology.
The consumer goods industry possibly has the most number of interactions between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. Blockchain powered smart contracts can not only tie all the parties together but can also ensure all the parties are adhering to their end of the bargain. Controls can be built around smart contracts to ensure ethical sourcing and adherence to labor regulations. Blockchain can prove to be a very effective tool in preventing counterfeiting, a problem that plagues the electronics, luxury and life-style industry segments through traceability at every point in the supply chain. . Agricultural commodity trading based companies can make trading more rapid and efficient using blockchain. Vendor performance and payments can directly be derived from blockchain validated transactions thereby minimizing the need for human interventions and verification. Blockchain coupled with IOT devices and sensors, provides unparalleled visibility and efficiency gains into the logical and physical movement of goods across their entire value cycle.
Transportation and logistics is an industry that can get the most out of using the combined strengths of blockchain and IOT. Be it smart contract enabled pick-ups, drops or adhering to contractual agreements over physical product attributes or the process of getting paid, all these functions can be smoothened and made instantaneous by these technologies. Shipments delays at customs, paper-work transfers between agencies, route optimizations are some areas where this IOT + Blockchain technology can bring visibility and efficiency. Shipment reconciliations, delivery versus payments can be made instantaneous.
This decade will likely see the rise and rise of blockchain and its adoption in various walks of life and until a better technology disrupts its growth, there is no slowing this sheriff who is here to conquer and stay.