Standards critical to mainstream adoption of blockchain, says industry expert

By James Henderson
Defining a common set of standards is critical to ensuring mainstream adoption of blockchain-enabled technologies. That’s according to the CEO of Mar...

Defining a common set of standards is critical to ensuring mainstream adoption of blockchain-enabled technologies.

That’s according to the CEO of Marine Transport International, a UK logistics technology provider that specialises in blockchain-enabled products.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography; there has been significant interest in its application in the logistics and freight sectors, where it has the potential to increase transparency, improve efficiency and enable automation.

“Blockchain has been touted as a major innovation in the digitalisation of logistics, offering transparency, connectivity and automation at a time when all players are looking to become more efficient and cut costs to offset falling rates,” said Jody Cleworth, founder and CEO of MTI.

“Yet as with any new hype, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, a lot of confusion and a lot of investment which isn’t necessarily focusing on the long-term potential.

“Defining a common set of standards is the only way that blockchain is going to make the step up to being seriously considered by the major players in the supply chain.”

With so many of the major logistics players still wedded to legacy systems which can’t connect with one another, having a straightforward, transparent approach is the only way the sector is going to be able to harness the benefits of blockchain.

“Supply chains are made up of multiple parties, all of whom have made major investments in their technology,” continued Cleworth.

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“Historically, those systems haven’t been set up to communicate outside themselves, so people have had to spend time and money repeating the capture of inputting of data to ensure that all parties have what they need.

“At a time when everyone is looking to become more efficient, cut costs and automate, being able to use a system that can connect with any legacy IT has the potential to radically transform a business.”

To that end, MTI has joined a new US-based blockchain standards organisation as its first European member.

Blockchain in Transport Association (BiTA) aims to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. It currently has 160 members, including UPS, SAP and Bridgestone.

Chris Burruss, president of BiTA said, “For blockchain to be a success, we need to have a transparent, open and honest process, which means everyone working off a standard. Right now, everyone is excited about the potential, but as with any new technology, there’s multiple ways it might be deployed. Identifying the right approach is critical in the journey to mass adoption.”

 

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