These Global Companies Have Already Adopted Blockchain: Should You Be Next?
Although the term ‘blockchain’ was coined in 2008, a lot of us may not have heard the term until more recently. The rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may have put the term on our radar, but the underlying distributed ledger technology (DLT) has much broader business applications; from peer-to-peer transactions to tracking shipments, from cloud storage to secure electronic voting.
While industry leaders are taking advantage of the technology, setting up your own blockchain network is extremely complex and expensive, involving the management of dedicated hardware, software, network components, certificates for access and so on. So are blockchain technologies just another set of tools that are out of the reach of regular business owners?
Thankfully not, as blockchain service providers are improving accessibility and putting the technology within reach of smaller businesses. Let’s take a look at how some global leaders are applying blockchain technologies and how others are working to make these same technologies more widely accessible.
Citibank, Mastercard and Crypt
When it comes specifically to cryptocurrencies, two high-profile institutions that are actively embracing them are Citibank and Mastercard. Citi launched a new digital assets group in 2021 specifically to help clients invest in cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens and central bank digital currencies.
Mastercard is also planning to further support cryptocurrencies. Although crypto transactions won’t move directly through the Mastercard system, the company is implementing ‘crypto cards’ to support digital transactions. In this system, the crypto partners convert the digital assets to traditional currencies, then transmit them through to the Mastercard network.
Elsewhere in the financial sector, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, PNC, Fifth Third Bank, and Goldman Sachs are just some of the institutions that have reported using blockchain technologies in some capacity. The goal of these organizations is to move away from manual processes and towards straight-through processing (STP).
And while digitisation is clearly faster and more efficient for trading, tracking shipments, receiving documents, etc., there have been well justified concerns about security. The complex nature of blockchain security is giving financial institutions the confidence to streamline many of their processes or transactions that would have previously been too valuable to trust to digitisation. Some specific examples include peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers (Bitwala), bank transfers (Westpac Bank), trading (Nasdaq, Citigroup), trade finance (Barclays) and syndicated lending (Credit Suisse).
Crypto, Non-Crypto and Facebook
One industry leader taking advantage of blockchain technology in both cryptocurrency and non-crypto applications is Facebook. Since 2018, Facebook has banned any advertising relating to cryptocurrencies on the platform. However its own payment service Facebook Pay operates with the cryptocurrency Diem (formerly Libra). Facebook doesn’t directly own Diem but has a large interest in the association that acts as a monetary authority for the currency.
Apart from its crypto applications, Facebook is also leveraging blockchain technologies for their ability to securely manage information. Through blockchain, Facebook can create new avenues for proof of identification and for giving permissions for certain types of information sharing. For example, a user may grant permissions to view only certain videos or photos to certain other users. All of this is securely managed through blockchain technology.
Another example of how far blockchain has come from its cryptocurrency roots can be found in China. In June 2019, the People’s Bank of China issued a statement that “it would block access to all domestic and foreign cryptocurrency exchanges and ICO websites.” And yet in 2020 the government-backed Blockchain Based Service Network (BSN) was launched, giving businesses access to other, non-crypto blockchain services without having to build them from the ground up.
Blockchain As A Service
Other companies are finding opportunities in the blockchain arena by acting as service providers to smaller companies. One of the giants in this area is Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud storage provider with a 32% market share in Q1 2021. AWS is a managed service that gives its clients the opportunity to create and manage scalable blockchain networks using Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum. In other words, AWS operates on a “blockchain-as-a-service” (BaaS) model, renting a blockchain from the provider and then offering templates that allow the client to manage and monitor their hosted blockchains easily.
Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, offers similar services to AWS. The platform was launched in January 2018 and also includes XuperChain as a third blockchain protocol. Baidu’s service reportedly already supports the authenticity of 50 billion assets. Similar to AWS, Baidu’s BaaS offering is an in-house developed platform that offers customers a more user-friendly entry point into blockchain services.
And … You ?
It’s clear that blockchain technology is already widely used by large companies and the trend is only set for it to increase. But how does this relate to regular businesses? The key terms that come up in discussions of blockchain applications are ‘efficiency’ and ‘security.’ Many processes have been relegated to less-efficient, paper based record keeping because they were just too important or valuable to trust to digitisation. Bills of lading, transfers of goods, proof of purchase and receipts, insurance agreements, contracts, wage payments, information storage, monitoring supply chains, delivery records, the list just goes on and on. Put simply, blockchain technology provides users the security required to confidently transfer these processes into the digital realm, knowing that the information can’t be lost, hacked or stolen.
The barrier to entry for regular businesses has previously been a practical one. Setting up a dedicated blockchain network was dizzyingly confusing, technically complex and, worst of all, prohibitively expensive. But all that has changed with the increasing accessibility offered by BaaS providers.
Leading companies in a whole range of industries aren’t just using blockchain for transactions; they’re actively looking for more and more uses for the technology. With possible applications ranging from sales to secure record keeping, information management and more, blockchain technology would seem to have a place in any modern business.
This article was created by Mediareach Advertising, a leading London-based integrated marketing strategy agency.