Blockchain… WTF?

One of the most asked questions of me is what is the use of blockchain.. I mean really what good is it? To be fair any answer I give is a bit like pandora and her box because it inevitably leads to more questions at the end of which the inquisitor is none the wiser and I’m feeling inadequate as I thought my answer was good. So I thought maybe I could post a few small examples of what some folks are doing with blockchain.. and it isn’t all cryptocurrency before you chip in! Argggghhhh!

  • According to NPR, Wyoming ranchers are turning to blockchain technology in an effort to brand their beef as superior than others. The company is called, and it is getting blockchain on ranchers in Wyoming. CEO Rob Jennings says: “The unique methodology that each ranch uses … what grass their fed on, that’s all lost and consequently ranchers are getting pennies on the dollar.” Up to this point, it has not been worth it to distinguish beef for Wyoming ranchers. However, blockchain technology will now allow ranchers to do this. A rancher in Wyoming tagged 250 steer calves at their ranch with blockchain tags. The cost was $5 per tag. However, using these tags and keeping their cattle separate all the way through processing, the hope is to increase the value of the cattle by 10% to 20%. Jennings said: “Traceability is of utmost importance to them[international markets]…food safety and guarding from food fraud, things being packaged that aren’t what they say they are.”

  • According to Venturebeat, Cargo shipping company Maersk and IBM jointly announced TradeLens, which applies the blockchain to the global supply chain. TradeLens facilitates more efficient and secure global trade. More than 94 companies and organizations have already supported TradeLens in an effort to increase transparency and innovation in the global supply chain industry.These 94 companies include 20 port and terminal operators, including PSA Singapore, International Container Terminal Services Inc, Patrick Terminals, Modern Terminals in Hong Kong, Port of Halifax, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect, PortBase, terminal operators Holt Logistics at the Port of Philadelphia, and global APM Terminals’ network. That entire group covers a total of 234 marine ports. Customs authorities are also working with the program. Customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia, and Peru are participating, along with customs brokers Ransa and Güler & Dinamik.

  • According to Coindesk, a researcher for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is testing a blockchain network for processing the vast amounts of data produced. Josh Peek, an associate astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute, said that the HST requires “millions upon millions” of hours of computing power to process data, which can become prohibitively expensive. Peek hopes that by using a decentralized network, researchers can use resources more efficiently. Peek explains: “Tens of millions of CPU hours can really run up a bill. NASA and [STScI] use computing centers and that’s a way we can go … but there’s long latency period where you go through a grant process … and so the idea came up that we could use a distributed network to do this really efficiently, it’s 10 times cheaper than standard cloud computing.” Peek is now working with blockchain startups AIKON and Hadron to process the research data.

  • According to Coin Telegraph, Singapore Airlines (SIA) launched its own airline loyalty digital wallet that uses blockchain technology. The wallet is called “KrisPay” after SIA’s “KrisFlyer” loyalty program. The wallet converts frequent flyer miles into digitized ‘KrisPay miles’ that can be used to pay for retail purchases via a mobile app. KrisPay miles are currently accepted at 18 merchants island-wide, and more merchants will be added to the platform in future. SIA first successfully tested the proof-of-concept for its blockchain-based loyalty wallet back in February.

So there you have 4 examples of what your company with a little marketing nouse might do with blockchain. When folks say the sky is the limited well to be fair even the sky might have limits the blockchain doesn’t so go easy on the soundbite and hard on the research for ideas. Good luck.