4 min read

Can you spot Blockchain in the wild?

Can you spot Blockchain in the wild?

When people often talk about Blockchain (it’s a common topic within a group of friends, give me a break), they often talk about cryptocurrencies, DeFi and NFTs. Not many people explore what’s possible besides that. Still, I’m here to tell you some companies use Blockchain in a way that isn’t “common” in the current marketplace and discussion topics.

We all want Blockchain to go mainstream and have everybody use cryptocurrencies etc. That’s the future I also wish to, but we only think of it from a consumer perspective, from a single person PoV. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to decentralization, and it’s crucial, if not the most crucial, perspective. There is another perspective we forget about, and it’s a business one. Businesses can also benefit from Blockchain, and there are a few examples of successful implementations.

Maersk

Apart from the first cryptocurrencies, Maersk's system for tracking its containers was the first significant and essential blockchain project deployed on production. The system was co-developed with IBM firm and deployed on Hyperledger Fabric. The system is still alive and much more advanced than it used to be, but that shows how it improved Maersk operations. Let’s dive in.

Maersk is one of the largest shipping companies. They deal with tons (literally) of cargo on their ships. During container shipment to the ports, sometimes some containers got “lost”.  If you watched “The Wire” season 2, you know how’s that possible. Each port has its system of tracking what’s coming in and out. Each port has their own set of papers. When shipment goes from one port to another across the globe, you’re dealing with many forms and documentation. It’s easy to misplaced one container or never ship it.

Here’s come Blockchain to the rescue. Due to its distributed and decentralized nature, they were able to utilize Blockchain’s strengths. They started adding GPS tracking devices to their containers. Periodically GPS devices beamed a signal which was written into a Maersk’s Blockchain. This way, they knew where each of their containers was located. Thanks to the consensus mechanism, even if someone wanted to spoof a signal, it was immediately discovered. Maersk was able to eliminate most of the frauds. They expanded the system to even track single items in the cargo.

This is by far my favorite example of Blockchain usage, and I bring it every time I can.

Walmart

The next big and important Blockchain implementation onto production was done by American retail corporation Walmart. They have created two projects that worked very similarly but dealt with different products.

The first project tracked all sold mangos in their shops across the USA. The second one did the same but with pork meat. According to Walmart and analysts checking each reported incident with bad batches of products that were sold accidentally to the customers, investigation time dropped from 7 days to around 2.2 seconds. That’s a significant drop. Walmart believes the system they created will track 50% of all of their meats and 40% of all of their vegetables and fruits in the future.

Many scandals and problems arose from bad batches of meat, milk, or any other massively sold groceries. Having an ability to quickly find the source of the problem, isolated batches of bad food, we can stop the problem's spread and scale. When it comes to people's health, different authorities and specialists take days/week before finding the source of the problem.

Looking at the current pandemic, we’re living in. How it started, it’s not hard to imagine the importance of such a system in place.

Visa

It’s hard not to talk about Visa and their announcement from late March this year.
Visa said it will be partnering with cryptocurrency exchange platform and card issuer Crypto.com to offer a crypto settlement system for fiat transactions later this year. Visa’s partners will reportedly be able to exchange USD Coin (USDC) over the credit card’s payment network to clear transactions made in fiat currency.
What that means, in the long run, is you will be able to pay with Stablecoins using your credit card, and Visa will handle all the transaction traffic to settle the payment. It’s a big step towards the global adoption of cryptocurrencies for everyday folks like my parents.

BMW

This one will be short as I couldn’t find much info on this. In essence, it is another supply chain example and how Blockchain is making a significant impact on that front.

BMW Group uses Blockchain technology to track components they have ordered and the raw materials they’re buying in its multi-step supply chain. In 2019 they did PoC, and it was a success. They want to expand the program to other vendors.

Estonia

Yes. You read that right. The country of Estonia is using blockchain technology within their digital, national products.

Estonia is one of the most digitalized countries in the world. Nearly 99% of all services and national offices from which their citizens need to use are present electronically. Almost all of the official papers, taxes, voting, company managements or even the citizenships can be done digitally. Since 2012 Estonia has introduced Blockchain into its digital system, I don’t have much information about which Blockchain has been used and is being utilized right now, as nearly nine years have passed since the original introduction. Still, nevertheless, they did that quite early.

They use Blockchain to store their citizen's data. They don’t keep actual data but only hashes of those data. Blockchain allows having the integrity of data across different digital systems for their citizens.

For more data on how Estonia has managed to become a digital country, Pwc has created a great report that goes into these details. The report can be found here


Blockchain is much more than cryptocurrencies and DeFi. Especially looking at the case of Estonia and Maersk, we can see how much potential this technology can have.
If I encounter any interesting Blockchains usage in the wild, I will create a separate post and link it here.

This article marks my 6th day of daily blogging. I will do a post after each 10days to give you my impressions of how it’s going, what I learned, and how I keep myself motivated.