Potential of Blockchain for Supply Chains

Blockchain, the technology that supports bitcoin transactions, is prized for its potential to increase the effectiveness and profitability of most, if not all, businesses.

What is the blockchain technology?

Blockchain is an internet-based technology that is rated highly for its ability to publicly validate, record, and distribute transactions in immutable, encrypted ledgers. It is best known that transactions in bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency that operates independently from a central bank, is supported by this technology. Basically, blockchain technology provides the platform for creating and distributing the ledger, or record, of every bitcoin transaction to thousands, if not millions, of computers linked to networks in all parts of the world.

Because the transactions and ledgers are encrypted, blockchain technology offers more security than the banking model, and its instantaneous transmission via the internet eliminates banks' two-to-three-day clearing process and accompanying costs for transferring money from one account to another.

The term "blockchain" is derived from the "blocks" of validated and immutable transactions and how they link together in chronological order to form a “chain”. Hence the term "blockchain." There are two dominant types of blockchains. "Permissionless" distributed ledgers, such as bitcoin, reside in the public domain, while "permissioned" ledgers are centralized and governed by "actors," "nodes," or "miners," and are held outside the public domain.

In 2016, Walmart built a blockchain online ledger to track the movement of pork in its Chinese supply chain in an effort to make the system safer in one of the meat’s biggest global markets – the US. In this case, blockchain helps authenticate transactions and increase the accuracy and efficiency of record keeping.

Nowadays, COVID-19 has also been a catalyst for further digitization of end-to-end supply-chain processes that reshaped supply chains globally. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents say they have invested in digital supply-chain technologies during the past year, with most investing more than they originally planned.