Supply Chain Blockchains

Washington University and BTC Media hosted the first blockchain forum dedicated to supply chain logistics and finance. I found the use cases and applications more practical than the typical fintech blockchain events.

Key takeaways from the forum:

  • Unlike banking, supply chain is less burdened with regulatory complexities and the fear of disintermediation by the incumbents (like banks) and the key logistics players like Fedex, UPS and manufacturers are all very active in driving the blockchain discussions
  • While financial services see primarily permissioned, private blockchains in their future, the supply chain experts look at private blockchains as a learning tool for the ultimate public blockchain world
  • Supply chain finance from factoring to letters of credit were common use cases along with integrating IoT data from sensors along the supply chain. Visible startups were Fluent focused on supply chain finance and Cargochain integrating IoT in supply chain into a custom public blockchain.
  • Identity management was a common use case along with the special application of ensuring authenticity of goods as well including pharmaceuticals and gems. A great example was Everledger
  • Managing diamond source and authenticity on the blockchain and Deloitte presented the pharma authenticity pilot. There were emerging use cases in tracking blood donations on the blockchain as well as distributed identity management.
  • Hyperledger was the most visible consortium for supply chain as R3/Ripple have no play in the space
  • There was unique discussion about the opportunities in midmarket as the cost of supply chain finance is much higher for SMEs.
  • The industry is coining a new term to replace “cloud”. While Cloud requires central intermediaries (Google, Amazon, etc) the emerging “Fog” powered by blockchains will rely on completely on P2P, machine to machine communication

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