Large Enterprises Are Betting On Blockchain In 2019

Forbes | Biser Dimitrov | Aug 13, 2019

Blockchain and enterprise - Large Enterprises Are Betting On Blockchain In 20192019 is the year when the blockchain ecosystem and the crypto industry as a whole had to get sober. After a wild 2017 and a bear 2018, the blockchain space is back on an upwards trajectory with new developments. There are no more Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to distract the crypto ecosystem and the building mentality is back on. This post-ICO and post-useless-PR-partnerships age urges the blockchain community to be less focused on the current price of bitcoin and more focused on producing meaningful services and advancements. Big projects from established enterprises like Facebook Libra are taking all the media space now and this is net positive for the enterprise blockchain space as well.

The first half of this year was full of blockchain developments led by large enterprises in almost all important sectors, including insurance, financial services, supply chain, healthcare and trade finance.

There is a huge benefit in joining a specialized industry-focused blockchain consortium because you sit at the same table with your main competitors but at the same time you work toward the same goal. You are not alone in figuring out the benefits, implementations and roll-out of distributed ledger technologies.

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There is also a financial benefit when commonly building applications as sometimes the membership fee is lower than the cost of hiring and training blockchain developers. Some of the big names in leading blockchain consortia networks that have made significant progress so far in 2019 are:

  • B3i, a blockchain consortium focused on the insurance industry, recently launched its first live product on R3’s Corda platform. Their members include big insurance and reinsurers companies like Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re, Tokio Marine, XL Catlin and Zurich.
  • Energy Web Foundation (EWF) launched their enterprise-grade public blockchain with 17 applications already on it. That network consists of 100 affiliate members like Total, Shell, GE, Siemens, Duke Energy and PG&E.
  • Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) was created by five of the ten largest container carriers: CMA CGM, COSCO SHIPPING Lines, Evergreen Marine, OOCL, and Yang Ming.
  • Two of the largest health insurance companies in the United States, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, have teamed up to tackle the massive datasets of provider demographic data from hospitals and medical partners.
  • Health Utility Network was formed by Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, PNC Bank and IBM to drive digital transformation and blockchain enabled-solutions within the healthcare industry.
  • In the space of trade finance, the biggest names are project Voltron, focusing on letters of credit; Marco Polo, implemented on R3’s Corda; and we.trade, which runs on IBM Blockchain and consists of 12 of the biggest European banks, including CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Santander, Société Générale, UBS and UniCredit. They are all moving forward with pilots and we have seen live results, like the completed transaction between the European Union and Asia on Marco Polo.
  • The owners of the famous Louis Vuitton label, LMVH, launched a special blockchain that will help prove the authenticity of expensive goods. It is built on Ethereum with the help of Microsoft.
  • Samsung launched a consortium including six major South Korean companies, focused on launching a blockchain-based mobile ID system. The company is already pretty advanced in their blockchain and crypto developments with the release of the Galaxy S10 phone with designated crypto wallet and Blockchain Keystore online app marketplace. Moreover, Samsung released a developer-friendly Blockchain SDK.
  • The IBM Food Trust network launched. Built on Hyperledger Fabric, the network aims to create a traceable audit log for time-sensitive foods and when an issue occurs, the network participants will be able to pinpoint exactly where the damaged items shipped and won’t have to empty all their shelves. The consortium consists of companies like the European giant Carrefour, Walmart, Nestle, Dole Food, Tyson Foods, Kroger and Unilever.
  • Walmart, similarly to Samsung, is involved on several different tracks with blockchain. They have joined MediLedger, a private consortium that aims to create a drug supply chain. Apart from that they are also partnering with KPMG, Merck and IBM as part of the FDA’s program to evaluate the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity. Recently it become public that Walmart also filed a patent for issuing a digital currency on a blockchain, or stablecoin, as they are known in the industry.

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The whole private consortia ecosystem is still in early development but the right mentality is there. We will see how the technology develops over time to support those formations. A popular approach might be a hybrid infrastructure, where consortium members interact with each other in a permissioned environment or a shard but eventually anchor to some public blockchain for audit and reference purposes.

From the enterprise blockchain technology perspective, this first half of 2019 was pretty interesting and the major blockchain platforms made progress in not only improving and maturing their services but releasing new products. The general sentiment has been to focus on privacy, consensus options and digital asset standardization in anticipation of the tokenization revolution.

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