February 26, 2021 By IBM Blockchain Pulse 5 min read

Of the 96 companies that have been included in the Forbes Blockchain 50 since 2019, only 12 have made the list for all three years — including IBM. Three other 2021 listees have partnered with IBM for their claims to Forbes fame. A.P. Moller-Maersk made the list for TradeLens, the international shipping platform co-created with IBM. Two were early adopters of what is now IBM Food Trust: French supermarket chain Carrefour, and retail giant Walmart (also a three-timer).

TradeLens and Food Trust, along with the we.trade trade finance platform, also co-created with IBM, were among the live blockchain applications studied for a recent research article “What We’ve Learned So Far About Blockchain for Business,” published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. The authors address blockchain’s unique capabilities for solving challenges at the ecosystem level.

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Blockchain in the news

Blockchain plays in sustainability initiatives

Optimizing renewable energy sources requires flexible, localized trading solutions for stored energy, like “prosumer” batteries charged by rooftop solar systems. Blockchain solutions can link buyers and sellers in trusted networks, like the peer-to-peer trading solution developed by Mitsubishi Electric and Tokyo Institute of Technology. Austrian Power Grid (APG) has joined the European blockchain-based energy balancing platform EQUIGY. Blockchain startup WePower enables corporations to trade surplus energy contracts in an ecommerce-like marketplace, with Australian electricity retailer Mojo Power its first live customer. And several initiatives are underway in Germany, including a new government-funded study into the role of blockchain.

Using blockchain to track sustainability and responsible production is gaining traction in the fashion industry, where raw materials can pass through ten or more hands before becoming a tee-shirt. The German workwear company KAYA&KATO has partnered with IBM to develop a blockchain network for traceability in the clothing supply chain so customers can identify the origin of fabrics in their products. Hong Kong-based TextileGenesis, a 2020 Global Change Award winner, is working with fashion brand H&M and textile manufacturer Lenzig to bring transparency to clothing production.   Fashion brand Covalent is using an IBM Blockchain Platform solution from Cognition Foundry to track the carbon footprint of its products, and the True Tribe brand uses blockchain to provide consumers with provenance data on the clothing it makes out of ocean plastic waste.

Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel, producer of palladium, nickel, platinum and copper, has joined the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, an initiative for traceability of sustainable mining practices built on IBM Blockchain platform-based. And aluminum customers of aluminum mining leader Rio Tinto will provide customers with a digital sustainability label to document how the aluminum used in packaging was responsibly produced.

What else we’re reading

Blockchain aids COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Technology companies of all sizes are stepping up with solutions for tracking vaccine doses as they move through the supply chain, including IBM. We’ve made available an open platform for vaccine delivery. IoT and blockchain work hand in hand in assuring safe delivery of validated vaccines. Two hospitals in England have tracking underway using an Hedera-based platform. With vaccine distribution underway, travel passports — like IBM Digital Health Pass — may be in our future.

Crypto ups, downs and developments

Digital currencies. After passing $20,000 for the first time in December 2020, bitcoin has fluctuated its way up to nearly $50,000 as of this writing, with a spate of announcements surrounding the cryptocurrency’s climb. Tesla invested US $1.5 billion in bitcoin and plans to accept it in payment for its products. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay Z launched a new blind-trust endowment to fund Bitcoin development in Africa and India, while India signaled it will go forward with a complete ban on cryptocurrency investment. Canada approved North America’s first bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF).

CBDC. The central banks of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates worked with IBM on a pilot that used real money to explore domestic and cross-border settlement using a single wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and blockchain. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman told investors that the payment platform will be “the digital wallet for CBDCs.” The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) outlined plans to run trials using CBDCs for cross-border payments in 2021

Stablecoin. The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced it is allowing national banks and savings and loan associations to use independent node verification networks and stablecoins for payment activities. U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC) launched on the stellar blockchain with almost US $6 billion in circulation, moving from Ethereum to speed transactions and lower costs. USDC got another boost when Visa announced it will support international USDC payments on its network. MasterCard also announced crypto support, but with caveats.

Other news around the blockchain

Australian bank guarantee platform Lygon went from pilot to live production, minting the industry’s first blockchain-based commercial banking product in the country. The service runs on IBM Blockchain Platform, as does the secure, contactless digital ticketing service True Tickets, which announced signing a new venue. The Algorand Foundation, research body behind the blockchain smart contract protocol Algorand, announced funding for 11 startups in its Europe Accelerator program.

February’s features of “watch, read and listen”

Virtual event: Automating multiparty business processes with blockchain
IBM Fellow and CTO AI Automation Jerry Cuomo leads the discussion on combining blockchain and automation to reduce costs, lower risks, improve cycle times and create new value and the use cases that can be deployed rapidly. Join us on March 04 at 11:00 AM ET.

Special event: Trusted vaccines, from inception to injection
Connect with industry leaders on February 25 at 11 AM ET on how we can use blockchain to build a healthy and resilient society. Breakout sessions will cover: bringing people to facilities responsibly, returning employees to the office with confidence; and building an open platform for supply chains.

Blog: How your next home project could help end illegal logging
ForesTrust, a collaboration between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, IBM, and key stakeholders, is using blockchain to track wood and wood fiber accurately and efficiently from the forest to the consumer, so people can choose responsibly sourced products at the point of purchase.

Webinar: Norway’s seafood industry raises the standard for transformation with blockchain
Meet the conveners and participants of Atea’s Norwegian Seafood Trust, a blockchain-powered network that enables collaboration across all industry players.

Demo: Become a data-driven importer with TradeLens
See how to save time and costs with five insights you can use today as you follow the importation of goods as they make their way to the final destination.

Our solutions and how to get started

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