Business Interest in Blockchain Booms
Billions of dollars are flowing from around the globe into pioneering digital ledger technologies.
Bitcoin may have brought blockchain into the limelight, but
the technology behind cryptocurrency record-keeping is
increasingly spreading into the mainstream business world.
“Companies that move products and people through
complex supply chains see promise in the inherent security
and ease of use of blockchain,” says David Schatsky, an
emerging technologies analyst and managing director at
Deloitte LLP, in an interview with Kim S. Nash for the Wall
A blockchain digital ledger allows users to add blocks of
information to the chain after each party runs algorithms to
mutually evaluate and validate a proposed transaction. Once
approved, the transaction or data is time-stamped and added
to the chain, which is inherently encrypted, unchangeable,
and always up-to-date on all users’ systems.
Nash reports British Airways is testing blockchain for
maintaining consistent real-time flight data across airport
gates and monitors, airline websites, and in customer apps.
Walmart is also betting big on the technology, developing
blockchain solutions with IBM to manage its supply-chain
data for dozens of products.
As Nash learned, Walmart’s blockchain allows the company
to precisely track the produce and products it carries. For
instance, the retailer has been testing the technology for
several months in its mango supply chain between the U.S.,
Mexico, and some South American countries.
“After a mango is picked from a tree, it makes many stops
before getting to a store shelf. Farmers, packing-house
workers, and others along the way use a mobile app from
Walmart to send details such as harvest dates, locations, and
images of their fruit to the retailer’s blockchain,” Nash writes.
Walmart’s head of food safety, Frank Yiannas, tells Nash that
the process is simpler and more secure than the array of
barcodes, scanners, paper forms, and individual databases
typically used. In fact, in a simulated recall, Yiannas says his
team traced the origin of a bag of sliced mangoes in just 2.2
seconds in the blockchain versus the nearly seven days it
took using Walmart’s other systems.
Yiannas explains that blockchain’s speed and accuracy
allows the retailer to save sales, and prevent further illness
and possibly death, as stores will know exactly which
mangoes to pull off shelves in case of crisis.
With corporate spending on blockchain software expected
to reach $2.1 billion in 2018, up from $945 million in 2017,
according to researcher International Data Corp., blockchain
is quickly becoming a technology accounting and finance
professionals will need to know and embrace.