Has Blockchain Lost its Mojo?
2018-11-07
By J. Anderson

Over the years, various entities have tried (and oftentimes failed) to roll out a solution to the elusive supply chain problem. In 2005, Walmart attempted to track its supply chain via the use of RFID chips. Yet, the endeavor resulted in failure (full cio.com article). The reason? Lack of adoption by its suppliers and difficulties of integrating even after adoption.

Recently, there has been news of a similar sort concerning the Maersk-IBM Blockchain venture, Tradelens (full coindesk.com article). It seems only one other carrier besides Maersk was interested in joining the network. As with all networks, its implicit value is derived via the breadth of its network. So, why isn’t Tradelens taking off? First, there is a cost of adoption that all carriers would have to pay by changing their processes and making themselves compliant to Tradelens. Second, there was a lack of trust. This last point is somewhat ironic, since Tradelens builds itself on blockchain technology, which was pioneered to address the issue of trust. However, unlike Bitcoin, Tradelens would be owned and directed by IBM and Maersk, that latter being one of the largest players in the market.

But wait, isn’t Blockchain a super-technology? Why then wouldn’t the players in the market be eager to jump onto this new platform? Well, as mentioned earlier, the value of the solution was not Blockchain but the network itself. Beyond that, there is a growing wealth of information that indicates that Blockchain is still an immature technology and almost any solution done using Blockchain could be done better with established methods.

The Australian government commissioned their Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to evaluate Blockchain and its possible use within governmental projects (full blocktribune.com article). The DTA has not written-off the technology, yet admits that Blockchain is at “the top of a hype cycle”. And who or what is behind this hype? It’s not governments. Beyond cryptocurrencies, it’s not real-world applications. It is vendors and corporations. This does not mean one should distrust these vendors, but a healthy dose of cynicism would not go amiss.
 
 
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