The announcement represented a big win for Viant, one of more than 45 projects developed in the hothouse of ConsenSys’s blockchain venture studio. It demonstrated confidence in the Viant platform, which is built on the Ethereum network and combines cryptographic security and smart contracts to help companies manage their supply chains. The projects have been in beta mode.
But the relationships with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, the World Wide Fund for Nature, energy company Imaginea and an unidentified large oil and gas company have a deeper significance. They underscore a growing belief that blockchain has widespread applications and can significantly improve many business processes.
The organizations turned to Viant’s platform to address different challenges within their supply chains, including security and transactional speed. When it comes to operational efficiency, they have also viewed blockchain technology as a potentially significant upgrade over established technologies.
Viant’s platform could help GlaxoSmithKline scientists track intellectual property licenses and ensure products are manufactured, transported and stored properly.
“As a result of the transactions that blockchains enable, I believe we will see much more cooperation and overlap by sectors in the future,” said Tyler Mulvihill, Viant’s co-founder.
Recent events have only strengthened this notion. In May, New York Blockchain Week and its flagship Consensus conference included multiple sessions on banking, insurance, health care, automotive, media and government, among other sectors. Deloitte, KPMG and other major consultancies that are traditionally quick to pick up on important efficiency trends maintained a sizable presence throughout the week.
“The technology is not going to solve all our problems, but once again the technology genie has escaped from the bottle,” said Don Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Institute and an innovation expert, at Consensus. “It was summoned by an uncertain person with uncertain motives during a challenging time for the world,” he added, referring to bitcoin () creator Satoshi Nakamoto. “It gives us another kick at the can.”
Here are four ways blockchain may transform industry fundamentals.
1. Health Care
Viant’s platform could help GlaxoSmithKline scientists track intellectual property (IP) licenses and ensure products are manufactured, transported and stored properly. These issues have become particularly challenging for pharmaceutical companies in the global economy. According to the . PwC’s strategy consulting unit Strategy& says these counterfeit therapies may lead to . Mistakes can be costly on other levels, including fines and damage to an organization’s reputation.
IBM is providing the technological foundation for a consortium of food manufacturers to determine how blockchain technology can improve food safety. The group includes Tyson Foods, Nestle and Unilever. This alliance follows a similar one to improve pork safety. These systems will be able to track food products to their original sources. Viant’s work with the World Wide Fund for Nature has similar aims in the fish industry.
Blockchain may improve the way companies combat cybersecurity threats. Consider , which is creating what it calls a “security marketplace” on the Ethereum network. The market uses what are called nectar tokens to give security experts incentives to detect and report threats.
Fund giant Vanguard late last year it had successfully tested blockchain technology to automatically update data related to index funds, a process that in the past has involved manual data entry.
Elsewhere, a number of blockchain projects are looking to provide access to basic financial services in underserved areas. Coinme, a financial services and blockchain technology company, aims to build a global network of cryptocurrency ATMs. The company is operating 40 right now and raised $19 million via an ICO.
“Cryptocurrency provides a real alternative to traditional currency, particularly for those who don’t have access to traditional banks or live in unbanked regions in the world where there is no other financial infrastructure,” said the company’s co-founder, Neil Bergquist.
Bergquist’s global vision includes blockchain and, increasingly, he isn’t alone.