Big companies aren’t known for being early adopters of innovative and disruptive technology. After all, they’re usually the ones having their proven, entrenched business models disrupted by those lean, hungry, and agile innovators. When the first wave of Silicon Valley-backed blockchain and cryptocurrency startups began to make their presence known in the mid-2010s, promising to completely reshape and streamline everything from financial settlements to transportation logistics, those corporate giants initially took a position of coldly skeptical curiosity. Now that the benefits of this new technology are becoming obvious, those same businesses are racing to claim a share of the market.
In this post, we’re taking a look at five major companies who are making major investments in blockchain and cryptocurrency tech.
1. Nestlé: With a market cap of around $281 billion, Nestlé is easily the largest food company in the world. Nestlé owns over 2000 food brands, from coffee to pet food, and it sells those products in over 150 countries. Their network of suppliers, factories, distributors, and retailers is almost incomprehensibly complex, requiring countless logistics professionals just to keep things moving smoothly. Not surprisingly, Nestlé was one of the first companies to sign up for IBM’s Food Trust blockchain pilot program, which seeks to streamline supply chain tracking. Their experience with blockchain tech appears to have had a big impact on Nestlé, as they’ve also joined the OpenSC blockchain pilot program, which allows consumers to “track their food right back to the farm.”
2. Walmart: Over the last few decades, Walmart has rapidly grown from a monolithic U.S. retailer to a truly colossal international one. The company operates over 11,300 stores in 27 countries, sourcing clothing, food, and household goods from all over the globe. Managing their supply chains in this scale is a challenge even at the best of times, but it’s especially problematic in countries like China, where wholesale food purchasing is often an all-cash, handshake-driven business. This is a major food safety problem for Walmart, and to solve it they’ve partnered with VeChain to create the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform.
3. Maersk: As the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world, Maersk faces many of the same logistics challenges as Walmart and Nestlé. The firm has offices in 130 countries, and handles international shipping for thousands of companies. In 2018, Maersk partnered with IBM to launch TradeLens, a blockchain-powered platform for supply chains. The project has proved to be hugely successful, with many of the world’s top shipping companies signing up for the service in the first year.
4. Hotels.com: The hotel-booking business has never been more competitive, with countless companies claiming to have the best prices, package deals, and room selections. In an effort to stand out from the crowd, Hotels.com has taken the unusual step of offering customer rewards in bitcoin for online payments. The website has partnered with in-browser app Lolli for the promotion, which claims that “tens of thousands” of customers have earned up to $100 in bitcoin using the service.
5. JP Morgan Chase: Back in 2017, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon made headlines in the business press when he called bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a “fraud,” and claimed he would fire any employee caught trading in crypto for being “stupid.” Two years later, Dimon’s company is desperately trying to gain a foothold in the international cryptocurrency market with their “JPM Coin,” a privately managed Ethereum fork. The company hopes that JPM Coin will find a niche in bond market settlements and payments between large firms. In other words, JP Morgan Chase is hoping that their private blockchain becomes the cryptocurrency of choice for big business.