Blockchain Investing Are Mostly Speculative As of Now
Most of the blockchain
investments in 2019 are seen to be predominantly speculative, according Gary
Gensler, MIT Sloan Professor and senior advisor to MIT Digital Currency
Initiative. The use of blockchain for day-to-day business is extremely thing,
accoridng to Michael Casey, senior adivisor to the Digital Currency Initiative.
Blockchain is a distributed ledge technology that creates an unchangeable record of transactions, facilitating interaction between participants without the need for intermediaries such as banks. The technology is complex and not conclusively defined — some so-called blockchain applications are simply traditional distributed ledgers, lacking blockchain’s hallmark features of anonymity and immutability, experts have pointed out. What’s more, figuring out how and when to apply blockchain is challenging, and companies are struggling with the business model.
Although the initial enthusiasm was about finance, supply chains are more likely to be the first real, practical use case for the technology, said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a visiting lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“Financial systems are among the most ungodly complicated systems you can imagine,” he said, making the application of a complex technology like blockchain extra difficult. Supply chain applications can be simpler, and the potential value more straightforward.
Wladawsky-Berger said he can explain a supply chain application in the time it takes to deliver an elevator pitch, albeit a longish one (30 floors, he said). “If you are going to develop something complicated, being able to describe it simply is very important,” he said. “I think that’s a major part of why supply chain is the killer app of blockchain.”
As a shared digital ledger that creates an immutable record of transactions, blockchain is ideal for tracking the provenance of goods. It enables trustworthy shared information among suppliers that may not trust each other. “One of the best ways to think about blockchain is in the context of a supply chain,” said Casey. It enables a group of independent entities, which have their own interests and information to protect, to share a common platform that holds information of common interest.
It helps to have a dominant company driving the use of blockchain, as is the case in two supply chain applications that may be close to going into production. Walmart has been running a pilot project with IBM’s Food Trust Solution, a blockchain-enabled distributed ledger of food system data, to track lettuce from its suppliers to Walmart shelves.