To be the first to do anything is always a coup. You want first pick in your fantasy football league. Who doesn’t want first pick of the holiday White Elephant gift? Being the first child in the family certainly has its perks.
Barclays had a first this week. As trade finance has gained the confidence of many industry analysts, Barclays reportedly made a “world first” with its successful completion of a trade finance transaction using blockchain technology. Using SWIFT infrastructure, the U.K. bank processed a letter of credit between Irish food conglomerate Ornua and Seychelles Trading Company.
This means efficiency is likely to only increase and bring costs down by eliminating paper-based letters between trading partners.
Fine to applaud now, which is also what Ornua Co-operative Group Trade Finance Manager David O’Rourke did: “Moving to paperless trade would be hugely beneficial in supporting the supply chain, through reduced costs, error-free documentation and fast transfer of original documents to our customers worldwide.”
“First” is surely a good word. But “second year" is also a great phrase, especially if you’re a blockchain startup.
Financial Solutions Lab released its year two snapshot report. It’s a look at FinTech trends based on information from the lab’s application pool. Although the proportion of blockchain startups remained the same as last year, most of them are still developing products or even have yet to see significant growth.
Financial Solutions Lab also went even further to note that more startups are using blockchain in natural and organic ways and are weaving it into the skeleton of their operations to problem solve.
Past second, let’s skip over three to the number four.
IBM wanted to get in on the blockchain conversation with four steps to create blockchain networks — specifically, for businesses and governments. The Armonk, NY-headquartered company said the four ways start with a “permissioned network,” which only allows certain people the rights to view transactions. Then, there are “assets,” which can be created using smart contracts but can be tangible and intangible. After that, there’s the transaction, which, of course, goes on to form the block and then the chain. The magic number four is the “consensus” to identify if the transactions are legit or duds and the agreement of members around those transactions, possibly through some kind of voting.
With all these numbers, if you’re wondering if we’re still shooting fish in a barrel … some say we might be able to solve illegal fishing with blockchain. Apparently, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing numbers are so disturbing it’s probably a good thing ol’ Dory has a bad memory. Estimates swim around 15–26 percent of the total value of wild-caught seafood imported to the U.S. is a product caught illegally and/or unreported.
Blockchain may be able to, well, block this illegality. Steve Trent, executive director at the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “Building in mechanisms to deliver transparency from net to plate is central to eradicating illegal, unsustainable fishing and the human rights abuses that have plagued parts of the seafood production sector.”
Certainly, it seems that blockchain technology is a tamper-proof way to store information, which can serve as a substitute for paper-based levers and books, which are not tamper-proof.
Provenance, a U.K.-based company, calls itself “a platform that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency by tracing the origins and histories of products.” Provenance is working with the fishing industry — that includes fishermen, factories, certifiers, consumers and others — and connecting it with blockchain. It’s a six-month pilot project focused on securing information around fishing methods, vessel types, compliance and trade.
So, because blockchain technology in fish — excuse us — in this case, provides a substitute to the outdated mechanism of catching, logging, trading and selling fish, could this be the future of all of our record-keeping?
Shall we call on Dr. Seuss here? One fish, two fish, red fish, blockchain fish…