How Blockchain Technology is Changing the Enterprise Landscape
Whenever people hear about blockchain they tend to think about bitcoin or get-rich-quick cryptocurrencies, but blockchain means more than that. The technology powering bitcoin is easy to explain to people with computer science background: a list of records linked together using cryptography, much like a database table. Blocks are added to the chain or ledger and each new block contains a signature of the previously added blocks. This design makes blockchain resistant to data modification, allowing any two or more parties to execute transactions efficiently, in a verifiable and permanent way. In this post, we want to present to you some other simple use cases of blockchain technology in practice.
The Blockchain of Food
As a consumer, when you buy tomatoes from your local supermarket, you probably have more than one option, and for each option, you probably have very little information available to make an informed decision. To be able to do that, you might want to know more about the tomatoes — Where were the tomatoes planted? When did the harvesting take place? How long did the products stay on the shelf? — and so on.
In an ideal world, imagine going to the supermarket, scanning the bar code on your tomato bag and instantly getting information: the vegetables were harvested one week ago, transported in 48 hours to the supermarket and sat on the shelf for the past three days.
As a store owner, you have multiple suppliers helping you sell apples to your customers. Doing this means more than putting the apples on a shelf, it means providing a service. You want to sell top quality apples and you want to know when the apples have been harvested so you can sell only fresh ones.
Also, in case of contamination by one of your suppliers, you want to take the products off the shelf quickly. But when dealing with multiple suppliers, this becomes complicated. You are presented with the option of stopping the sale of all the apples, including the safe ones, and thus impacting your business. You could also continue to sell the apples, but this would risk negatively impacting your customers and business future.
When a situation happens as described above, you
receive a notification that informs about the contamination risk encountered by
one of your suppliers. The notification includes the name of the supplier, the
batch numbers contaminated and the dates to be considered. You act swiftly and
take the products off the shelf. You save your business and provide immediate protection
for your customers.
The scenarios presented are becoming a reality thanks to IBM’s Food Trust solution. By adopting the open-standard Linux Hyperledger Fabric, Food Trust allows all participants in the supply chain, from farmers to quality inspectors and retails stores, to add their data to the blockchain using APIs or User Interface modules. Once the data is uploaded, the participants can choose which pieces of data they want to share and with whom. Adding to this is the ability to initiate and run smart contracts between members. Since the data on the ledger is immutable and the smart contracts have pre-defined rules, the disputes and resolutions are quickly solved.
Carrefour and Nestle are using Food Trust for their Mousline puree, a popular instant mashed potato mix. By scanning the barcode on the packages, consumers can see where the potatoes were grown, what varieties were used and the places and dates where the box was stored. Food Trust has been used in 2019 by more than 80 brands and the network as processed over 5 million products.
Zero-Knowledge Proofs —Data Confidentiality from Deloitte and ING
Whenever you apply for a credit line, the bank evaluates your personal data. Usually, you give your bank payment slips, personal IDs, past bills and many more documents. A bank employee reviews your data and approves or denies your line of credit.
In the process of getting the credit line, your data is at risk because it’s stored for a very long term on the bank’s servers, the employee’s email account, and it’s also shared with audit companies. What if there was a way for the bank to confirm your eligibility without seeing your data?
ING has developed a solution based on the Zero
Knowledge Proof algorithm that addresses the fundamental concern of data
confidentiality. Instead of revealing your age, the ZKP implementation can help
banks evaluate your age against a range, for example, it can analyze if you’re
between 18 and 65 years and not expose the actual number. Using this method,
both you and the bank know that you are eligible for the credit line without
having your data shared. ING’s project is open-source and available on Github.
Deloitte, one of the biggest companies in the world providing audit, tax, and consulting services has implemented QEDIT’s privacy solution based on Zero-Knowledge Proof into its Eduscrypt platform. It’s currently used in the banking industry across multiple institutions. For instance, Ireland’s Institute of Banking requires that all senior staff members working in banks have a certain level of qualification and certification. Until now, the qualifications of all employees were uploaded and exchanged between all parties and this implied many risks regarding the employee’s data.
Now, using Deloitte’s solution, an employee uploads his or her data on the blockchain and has full control over it. The data is verified by the government and a smart contract evaluates all the qualifications and certifications, informing Ireland’s Institute of Banking if something is not right. The implementation enables organizations to trust the qualifications, it reduces errors, and the data is shared without revealing confidential information.
With these projects, the cryptography behind blockchain is changing businesses across a myriad of industries and the adoption will accelerate at the enterprise level. The blockchain buzzword will make a name for itself as investors will use the technology to do operations more accurate, efficient and secure.
Business decisions can be hard – there’s budget considerations, customer servicer consequences, technology issues and many more difficulties a company might encounter when making a decision to implement a technology like blockchain. But the result guarantees a future return on investment with this type of technology. It’s efficient, safe and benefits both the business as well as the client or consumer.
If your company is considering implementing blockchain or other types of newer technologies to ensure a more efficient business process, Hitech Advisors can help by engaging the expertise needed to make an informed decision. Plus, we have the scalable engineering teams that can implement the technology quickly and effectively. Call for more information or schedule a consultation by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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