As the awareness of “blockchain” made its way through the masses, more often than not, it was assumed that blockchain is synonymous with ‘cryptocurrency.” As the market has evolved and developed a better understanding of blockchain technology, industries ripe to potentially benefit from this technology have also evolved. A few of the key industries that have more intuitive blockchain application and use cases are centered around logistics, marketing, and legal services. One of the underlying unifying themes for these industries is the application of distributed ledger technology (DLT) via blockchain for record keeping and tracking information. As the technology continues to be integrated into day-to-day operations within these industries, the expectation is that blockchain may continue to offer value-add solutions for businesses that can benefit from increased transparency, record keeping, and document/identity verification.
Supply chain management and tracking are core tenets inherent to logistic-based businesses. Almost every stage of transportation and delivery of goods can be traced efficiently via blockchain technologies. The potential savings from the application of blockchain are increased, when applied to retail giants such as DHL, where scale provides an opportunity for the firm. As a result, DHL created informational material showcasing the potential logistics-based use cases blockchain integration could provide, titled “Blockchain in Logistics.” This is where the company has compiled “perspectives on the upcoming impact of blockchain technology and use cases for the logistics industry,” to showcase the company’s ability to pioneer the integration of blockchain solutions for the broader logistics industry. Applications such as this may allow companies to review and share data instantly regarding shipment processing/receiving (in addition to various other data points), enabling the company to have more accurate date to inform business decisions. Access to this level of real-time transparent data creates processes that reduce risk (such as loss, theft, damage to parcels etc.), which makes it more feasible to manage the supply chain processes entirely.
A primary example of the adaptation and evolution of blockchain within the logistics industry, is the establishment of the Blockchain In Transport Alliance (BiTA) in 2017. BiTA’s mission is to drive the adoption emerging blockchain technologies, which has garnered support from key industry players. Since its inception, BiTA has quickly grown into the largest commercial blockchain alliance in the world, with nearly 500 members from over 25 countries, who collectively generate over $1 trillion in revenue annually.
As more logistics-based companies start to experiment with blockchain solutions, the adaptation and development of custom internal solutions/use cases may also increase. This trend is clear, as leading global companies, such as South Korean giant Samsung, continue to announce development of customized internal blockchain based logistics systems. Given the solutions blockchain technology can provide for this industry, there are a number of startups (20+) developing enhanced solutions based on blockchain technology, such as Wave, Provenance, and SkyCell.
The marketing and advertising industry is massive, with global advertising spend continuously increasing since 2010 and projected 2019 global spend to exceed $560 billion U.S. dollars. The industry is also opaque, with the promise of “impressions” and “reach,” but with no exact method to guarantee the consumer target. The advent of blockchain technology provides several opportunities for improving marketing and advertising tools, therefore, optimizing marketing budgets, spend, and general customer acquisition costs. Specific to advertising, blockchain provides the capability to more directly monitor the ad views and distribution, ensuring ads were viewed by real people, not bots or click-farms. This may provide an opportunity for advertisers to optimize spend, which simply goes unaccounted for currently. Companies such as IBM, AdBank, XCHNG, Amino Payments and AdBit have a goal to build a transparent marketplace with the help of blockchain technology, in order to prevent ads from being posted to fake sites and inflating impression metrics, prevent processes to control overpayments for poor performance and hyperinflated/fraudulent metrics. The same principles are used even in the music industry. Bittunes, PeerTracks, JAAK and Paperchain provide musicians with protection from digital piracy and ensure fair payment for their products.
Another key learning from the marketing and advertising industry is taken from the industry’s first blockchain pilot program, Lucidity. Lucidity’s goals were primarily to make media buys more transparent in order to gain more accurate results. Based on the company’s findings, over 48% of clicks on advertisements were flagged as discrepant, indicating that the activity can be attributed to fraud or waste. Using the company’s technology, Lucidity was able to improve click match rates by an average of 22%. Larger companies, such as Toyota were even able to benefit from this technology, reducing advertising fraud and increasing traffic by over 21%.
Within marketing, another tangible sub-segment for blockchain application is the execution and management of customer loyalty programs, which incentivizes consumers to engage and repeat purchases/actions in order to accumulate all points/bonuses redeemable for something attractive to the consumer. Integrating blockchain solutions for loyalty programs provides additional data and opportunities for both the company and its partners, such as preferences and habits, allowing the company to optimize processes accordingly. One of the applications of this type is Loyyal. It allows users to combine numerous loyalty programs from different companies into a single system based on their interests. Most recently, Loyyal has received investments from three leading Asia-based firms, Unblock Ventures Limited – LINE Corporation’s blockchain investment company, Recruit Co. Ltd., and Monex Group, Inc. This may provide Loyyal with access to the Asian market for loyalty and incentives, among the largest in the world with over 80% consumer adoption across the Retail, Travel & Hospitality, and Services sectors. This has the potential to make an impact for this segment of the industry.
One of the most useful qualities of blockchain technology is the immutable ledger that aids in document ownership and tracking. DLT is easily integrated into systems to perform any registration, transfer, and/or storage operations, in a transparent, non-fungible manner, for all required parties/participants. This is particularly useful as it pertains to ownership rights, which is a key issue for many countries governing bodies.
Countries such as Georgia and Sweden have already utilized the technology as it pertains to the registration of land rights/ownership, updating their cadastral systems. In Georgia, one can obtain official property statements using the government’s blockchain network. Moreover, the Georgian National Agency of Public Registry is taking steps to introduce smart contracts in real estate registrations that can help enhance transparency and reduce costs. Similar mechanisms are being actively implemented in other regions globally.
In addition to confirming ownership, blockchain can be used to confirm/verify copyrights. Given this is an industry rampant with fraud and legal claims, naturally there are several startups offering solutions to address control and ownership of intellectual property rights. Companies such as Binded, Stampery, Verisart, Monegraph, and Proof of Existence are already actively engaged in addressing these issues, and providing an array of solutions to assist in maintaining authorship/ownership rights in the internet age.
As DLT is adapted by more regional governing bodies, traditional identity-record keeping systems may be upgraded. For example, there are regions where it is now possible to register marriage certificates, obtain virtual citizenship, and pay personal/income taxes and/or bills, via the efficiency of blockchain. Thousands of people have already explored marriage vows via smart contracts, however, local government continues to play an active role in whether these digital contracts suffice as a replacement for traditional processes.
Over the past 5 years, the adaptation and evolution of blockchain was not predictable. However, the key learning from the release and implementation of blockchain technology is that if technology truly unlocks key efficiencies and/or addresses core business issues, companies who understand the implication may adapt. As demonstrated in the aforementioned industries, blockchain’s impact for logistics, marketing, and legal services continues to evolve and maintains strong support from their respective industries and internally within their organizations. In turn, this may continue to elevate blockchain technology’s importance throughout various industries that have the potential to benefit. Here at DarcMatter, we are building fintech solutions for the financial services – check out our recent partnership with Rocket Dollar to create Digital Asset Custody Solutions.
Certain employees of DarcMatter are dually affiliated with North Capital Private Securities Corp., a registered broker-dealer, member FINRA and SIPC. An affiliate of NCPS, North Capital Inc., is the manager of the North Capital Emerging Technology Fund, which invests in companies that develop or utilize blockchain technology. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of DarcMatter.