From a technology perspective, the biggest innovation to come from the publication of the original bitcoin whitepaper isn’t cryptocurrency. Instead, the real leap forward is the invention of the blockchain, which allows multiple parties to engage in trustless, decentralized, and immutable record keeping. Now 11 years into development, non-cryptocurrency blockchain solutions are radically reshaping how major companies manage their supply chains, incentivize their workers, and improve the efficiency of their operations.
Let’s take a look at four of the biggest recent stories in blockchain technology.
1. Coca-Cola expands bottle-tracking blockchain. Soft drink industry giant Coca-Cola has been quietly testing SAP’s blockchain-based solution for their bottle manufacturing supply chain, and the results appear to be extremely promising. Coke One North America (CONA) announced earlier this week that it was expanding the pilot program from two bottle-making facilities to 70, creating a capacity of around 160,000 bottles a day. Coca-Cola’s bottling system relies on a complex web of suppliers and shipments, making it an ideal test case for blockchain tech.
2. Microsoft reveals enterprise-level blockchain creation platform. On Monday, Microsoft announced a new blockchain service called the Azure Blockchain Tokens platform. Built to comply with Token Taxonomy Initiative (TTI) standards, the new platform will allow any company to quickly develop a wide range of blockchain-driven tokenized business solutions for projects like rewards programs and letters of credit.
3. Volvo to use blockchain to source “conflict-free” cobalt for electric car batteries. As hybrid and fully electric cars become more popular, the demand for high-capacity lithium-ion batteries is increasing exponentially. Unfortunately, one of the key ingredients in those batteries is cobalt, which is often mined by hand — and at the barrel of a submachine gun — by forced labor in lawless, remote areas like the Congo. To avoid sourcing from these suppliers, Volvo has partnered with CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea to create a blockchain-tracked supply chain showing the exact origin of the cobalt and other raw materials in their batteries.
4. Auditing firm PwC raises concerns about Walmart’s blockchain security. In a recent interview with Tech Wire Asia, PwC’s Agribusiness chief Craig Heraghty said that the supply chain solutions used by major companies like Walmart and Nestle provide only “the illusion of traceability,” and are more vulnerable to fraud than they appear. “The weakest link in the chain is not blockchain or any technology, the weakest link is the piece of sticky tape that puts the label on the package,” Heraghty explained. “You have to think like a fraudster and see where you can copy a label or a QR code.”