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Two Unexpected Ways IBM is Innovating with Blockchain

What else can blockchain be used for?

When someone says blockchain, people often think of cryptocurrencies, but companies outside the FinTech industry are exploring other ways to use blockchain technology.

The fact that blockchain technology provides a continuously updating database that is both verifiable and impenetrable to hackers makes it the perfect tool for any industry that exchanges things of value.

Check out three Blockchain disruptions that have nothing to do with cryptocurrency

It should come as no surprise then that the technology giant IBM is seeking to lead the way when it comes to finding creative and unexpected ways to use blockchain.

Here are just two examples — both in the Chinese market — of how partnerships with software companies are yielding remarkable results and promises for the future.

Managing Carbon Assets with Blockchain

IBM is working with Hyperledger Fabric and Energy-Blockchain Labs to help enterprises efficiently create more carbon assets with the goal of making China — a country that has struggled with pollution and excessive carbon-emissions — more environmentally-friendly.

IBM and Energy-Blockchain Labs released the first blockchain-based green asset management platform on the open source, openly governed Hyperledger Fabric.

The platform was in the proof-of-concept phase in 2016, and entered beta testing in May 2017.

While the companies were hoping for a late 2017 launch, there still hasn’t been any official word on a final date for commercial implementation.

Once the program is released, it will utilize smart contracts and digital collaboration to improve the efficiency of enterprise carbon management.

This approach adds transparency and credibility to the carbon market and could have a significant impact on China’s environment.

According to Cao Yin, Chief Strategy Officer of Energy-Blockchain Labs:

“It is estimated that the platform will significantly shorten the carbon assets development cycle and reduce the cost of carbon assets development by 20 to 30 percent.”

IBM and their partners have effectively positioned blockchain technology to revolutionize carbon asset production and management among enterprises in a way that will provide ongoing benefits to the environment and citizens.

Tracing the Food Supply Chain with Blockchain

In December 2017, IBM joined forces with Walmart, JD.com and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for Ecommerce Technologies to create the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance with the goal of improving food safety and supply chain tracking capabilities in China.

With international supply chains shipping food all over the world, it is more important than ever to ensure food safety. Blockchain technology drastically reduces the time it takes to trace the source of contaminated foods.

In one example involving an infested package of mangoes, a tracing process that would have taken days or weeks was completed in a matter of seconds. Longer tracing time could have resulted in more ill consumers. Blockchain technology allows stores and suppliers to quickly respond to problems and protect consumers.

Initial testing has produced promising results and the partners are now working together to create a set of standards and requirements that will clearly outline the program’s usage for optimal food safety.

Once clear goals and regulations have been established, the companies can work toward perfecting the technology for the Chinese market and potentially expand to other countries.

While there isn’t a concrete timeline for the project, Brigid McDermott, Vice President of Food Safety IBM, said:

“We work with a sense of urgency. IBM and its collaborators in this effort believe that blockchain can accelerate extremely quickly.”

By introducing a higher level of transparency and accountability into food safety, blockchain technology will help protect consumers in an increasingly global market.

The Future of Blockchain

As IBM is demonstrating, the potential uses of blockchain technology extend far beyond cryptocurrencies and the FinTech industry.

By pursuing collaborative partnerships, companies can use their different specialties to uncover ways to use this technology to find better solutions to existing problems and develop innovative and disruptive new ideas.

The more blockchain is utilized across industries, the brighter the future looks for everyone.

About the author

Joanna Alter is the Head of Content at prooV. She is fascinated by the process behind everything from songs to sunsets to softwares, and thinks coffee tastes best on ice.