Consensus conference consolidated a market trend from a year ago. This year has truly become a breakthrough, one might even call it a blockchain revolution. Largest corporations like IBM, Amazon, Oracle, Walmart, a number of European banks including one and only UBS, large automakers such as Toyota and BMW, logistics giant DHL and other companies one by one kickstarted their own or tried out other blockchain based projects.
However, the main sign of a so-called blockchain revolution was the appearance of associations founded by large companies to promote technology, study experience and track case studies done on blockchain use. For example, a transport union BiTA entered the sphere of logistics and the automotive industry welcomed a consortium called MOBI.
Moreso, backstage conversations during the conference revealed that the blockchain was getting a major momentum. Even JPMorgan Chase representatives (a financial institution known to show scepticism toward cryptocurrency), said that though they still don’t favour digital money, blockchain technology itself is important. For the first time in four years, conference attendees started talking about blockchain as a separate substance to cryptocurrency admitting the importance of the former in trade, commerce and other types of business.
Furthermore, this year’s average participant is very different from the one in 2017. Instead of small start-ups, this conference was blessed with such giants as Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, SAP demonstrating their corporate products. Also, in comparison to last year, the number of speakers and invited guests increased several times counting more than 8000 people.
One of the great projects under the spotlight was IBM Corporations environmental initiative. Alongside Veridium Labs, they are using blockchain to control carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The plan to tokenize quotas for carbon emissions will be implemented within the framework of the project aiming to control companies whose activities are harmful to the environment. Tokens will be called Verde and the revenue from their sale will go towards Borneo forests restoration in Indonesia.
Another interesting project is the launch of a New York blockchain resource centre to unite the city’s entrepreneurs efforts to create new initiatives in this area as well as to inform the public. The city pays great attention to blockchain technology in order to understand how it can be developed and what opportunities it may create for the residents – stated James Puckett, the president of New York economic development corporation, during his conference speech.
Blockchains integration in logistic also seems prosperous. In his speech at the conference, Fred Smith, the CEO of the multinational delivery service FedEx, called blockchain “the next frontier that will completely change the world supply chain.” At the moment, FedEx is exploring the potential of this technology to improve their business model. By the way, the world of logistics will soon welcome one large and important project for the industry. In partnership with Maersk, IBM is creating a global blockchain platform to digitize trading operations. Each interested participant would be able to track the movement of goods in the supply chain. Some large logistics companies already partnered up with the platform, one of the largest being Agility Logistics. Other partners include US Customs, Tetra Pak Corporation and a multinational chemical corporation Dow Chemical. Such project may as well be interesting to Russia as a major exporter.
An auditor of the Deloitte big four presented to conference attendees with the results of a poll among businessmen, stating that 34% of large companies already use blockchain in some form and 41% of respondents said they plan to start using blockchain within the next year. Deloitte surveyed 1,000 companies with annual sales of at least $ 500 million in the US, China, Mexico, France, Germany, Britain and Canada. This means that more and more large companies starting to use blockchain technology.
All that said, bitcoin as a focal topic of the last years’ conference seized to the background. The general message of the conference was this: don’t chase the course of volatile currencies, rather work on developing the technology that is the foundation for digital money itself. I am sure that many companies will pick up on this and next year we will not only see the results of projects that are now being actively implemented but also a lot of new memorable projects.
Oleg Ravnushkin – Managing partner at ICONIC.VC