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New Year, New Blockchain Use Cases?

As 2019 dawns, there are several predictions that blockchain may have a breakout year. One reason? Smart contracts, as noted by MIT. In the meantime, supply chain tracking efforts are gaining some digital traction with huge firms such as IBM and Intel, in countries far-flung as the U.S. to the Middle East.

The new year brings time for reflection and projection. To that end, any number of analyses are coming in the blockchain arena.

According to an article via the MIT Technology Review, this will be the year that blockchain becomes “boring,” with innovative projects that will “bear fruit” this year even amid the declines seen last year in the sector, and in cryptocurrencies. This, said the Review, will be the way that blockchain becomes normal.

At least some cryptocurrencies are becoming national in scope, which may spur blockchain adoption. For instance, the Review noted, Venezuela has introduced a crypto backed by oil production. The Review also noted that Walmart has been testing blockchain in its food supply tracking efforts. There are plans to launch various digital asset exchanges as well.

However, it is in smart contracts where a practical use of blockchain may have some torque. The Review noted that one startup, Chainlink, has been working with academic researchers at Cornell to develop what is being billed as a “provably secure” blockchain network, which can be used in constructing legal contracts.

The MIT projections came as Zion Market Research released its own report on blockchain, which saw the global manufacturing subset valued at $5 million in 2017, set to reach $307 million by 2024 for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76 percent through that timeframe.

In individual company news, and building upon past coverage that had been tied to cross-border trade and logistics, Cointelegraph noted Wednesday (Jan. 2) that Saudi Arabia has completed a pilot program that linked its own cross-border trade platform FASAH with IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens platform. TradeLens, launched in August 2018, had roughly 100 entities tied to that effort. This time around, the customs authorities in Saudi Arabia stated that the goal had been to facilitate trade and enhance security.

As had been reported in recent months, initiatives to use blockchain for shipping have launched elsewhere, as there is a blockchain offering in place with AB InBev, and a European customs firm has brought carrier APL onto its platform.

Cointelegraph noted that the Saudi efforts are “in line with its neighbor,” as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has “stepped up” activities that look toward state-level blockchain. There, interbank blockchain tools are being used with a focus on Islamic finance, and the Saudi Kingdom and UAE are pairing on interbank transactions done digitally through cryptocurrencies.

In the U.S., Business Insider reported that Pfizer and Intel are working, in separate efforts, on supply chain visibility. The site noted that 24,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) and 200 contract manufacturers that are tied to Pfizer, and the End-to-End In-Transit Visibility (E2E ITV) project, look to leverage technology to share tracking efforts and verify products as they make their way through a global supply chain. At the end of last month, Intel debuted its Intel Connected Logistics Platform, which exists as an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that also allows stakeholders to track shipments with near real-time data.

“The use of blockchain technology in supply chain management is expected to experience a rapid rise over the next five years — this market is expected to grow at a [CAGR] of 49 percent, from $41 million in 2017 to $667 million in 2024,” reported Business Insider.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.