Blockchain Is Eating Commerce

Blockchain is a technology that has the potential to become a disruptive force in the ever-more digital economy. Its potential value — coupled with friends, clients and business partners asking about it — led me to publish this outline and answers to many of the questions I’ve been fielding. It’s something every Data Athlete will want to understand.

SafeShare Insurance now offers blockchain-based insurance for the sharing economy. And it’s underwritten by Lloyd’s of London. The possibilities of blockchain are manifold.

So blockchain is allowing parties of all kinds to conduct business, and track each step (or transaction) in a secure and universally accessible ledger.

The Internet of Things, AI and Blockchain

Blockchain also is being integrated with IoT, or the Internet of Things. This means sensors and devices everywhere can trigger “transactions” to be logged as part of a complex supply chain or workflow. One example is a ship bringing perishables to a market abroad. The container in which the perishables are being transported can have a sensor that monitors the temperature. When it goes below a certain temperature, the transaction can be programmatically voided.

Because every blockchain transaction has a time-date stamp, the receivers of those goods will know they were credited for the spoiled goods. They’d also know the location and time, down to the minute they were no longer viable. All parties to the transaction could have their responsibilities laid out in simple logic, formerly locked up in a paper contract. The terms of the contract are automatically executed and the next steps, all the way down to the replacement items being shipped at no charge, could be triggered.

Artificial Intelligence can also play a role in determining what the next step or transaction in the chain would be. For example, IBM Watson may soon be able to determine the rate of depletion of a key item in a bill of materials in manufacturing. Predicting when the supply of the required material needed will run out, it can trigger a purchase transaction with a vendor who supplies it. It can even monitor the pace at which the goods travel by ship, rail or truck to the factory.

In a more consumer-friendly case, your fridge could make a blockchain entry at Amazon to place an Amazon Fresh order for the eggs that are almost out — and then credit you and re-order replacements when your eggs break in transit.

“… your fridge could make a blockchain entry at Amazon to place an Amazon Fresh order for the eggs that are almost out — and then credit you and re-order replacements when your eggs broke in transit.”

Blockchain and E-commerce

Now imagine shopping online to buy an organic Thanksgiving turkey. With a blockchain of their product catalog, you could see where the turkey was raised, how old it was, and even where it’s moved throughout its entire history, along with dates.

Now, if the rest of the supply chain used participated with this blockchain, throughout the life of the turkey, you might see the feed it consumed, where the feed came from, and what ingredients were in it. Each transaction in this fresh turkey blockchain contains the previous state of the turkey, so you’d know the date it was killed and butchered — possibly right through to its delivery to your Thanksgiving table.

Not a foodie? What if the toys you buy for your children were integrated on a blockchain to the factory where they were produced in China, and the manufacturing process was integrated, too … such that you can see it contained lead paint?

These examples are just the beginning. Many individuals are uncomfortable buying real estate outside of their home country. But what happens if all of the real estate, deeds, and insurance are integrated into a single, secure blockchain implementation?

Disputes over land ownership, encumbrances or liens, and taxes past due are all there and irrevocable. They can all be published on the Web, negating the need for countless copies of esoteric forms and documents, and the long slog to complete a transaction. This ushers in a more frictionless age for commerce of all types.

Blockchain Is Another Step Toward a More Frictionless Future

Blockchain and its integration into the enterprise are happening at a fast pace. Blockchain is said to have already “eaten” Wall Street, banking, insurance and international commerce. Soon, it will find it’s way into applications for your e-tail and retail businesses.

When they are raised as a way of facilitating business with your suppliers, distributors or your end-consumers — let them know you know that a blockchain is a crypto-secured, distributed database that can integrate code to log, trigger and track related transactions with a permanent history shared by all parties.

Put blockchain to work, and learn how to change and improve your business, and maybe take a small step toward changing the world around you.

Author: Mike Ferranti

Mike Ferranti is the founder and CEO at Endai Worldwide in New York City. In this blog, he plans to offer ideas and perspective that energize, stimulate and motivate performance through the lens of his nearly 20 years of data, technology and marketing experience. Mike draws upon the logical, cultural and subject matter expertise in digital and data-driven marketing—with an occasional parallel between business performance and athletic performance.

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