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How Blockchain Will Disrupt Regional and Global Supply Chains

Blockchain will fundamentally transform global transport and significantly improve companies’ and individuals’ ability to send and receive goods. At Last Mile ASEAN, a regional conference in Thailand concerning supply chains, Infinity Blockchain Labs, a Vietnam-based blockchain R&D company, introduced key industry insiders to the power of the technology.

What Blockchain Means for Supply Chain

Sending factory goods, perishable foods, valuable resources or products directly to consumers involves a tangle of shipping networks, independent carriers and regulations. This complexity makes the process uncertain and prone costly errors or corruption. The blockchain offers unique solutions to these problems. Because it stores all transaction information on a distributed private ledger that cannot be altered and is fully transparent, blockchain can ensure “that what occurs at each point in the chain can be chronologically recorded.” 1 This means that all steps in a transport chain are traceable, with all actors held accountable. No longer will lost, delayed or incorrect shipments go without a person or entity being held responsible.

Forbes magazine offers several specific examples of how different industries can adopt blockchain for improved supply chain use. By abandoning paper records and requiring a digital tag be recorded on the blockchain at each step of a shipment from pickup to delivery, potential theft by shipping agents can be drastically reduced. Additionally, the technology can be used to ensure that the foods restaurants and grocery stores sell are certified and their sources verified. Finally, because blockchain makes money transfers easier, faster and more secure, it can eliminate many of the payment delays that often hinder shipments.

Oliver Wyman, a leading global management firm, provides the following example of a beef supply chain to explain how blockchain can be used in each step:

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Blockchain in Thailand

As one of the world’s most rapidly expanding economies and a regional power, Thailand is obviously interested in blockchain. “The adoption of blockchain technology is expected to be widely seen here by 2018, thanks to its capability of transferring valued assets with trustworthiness, transparency and security,” Bhume Bhumiratana, a blockchain expert, told the Bangkok Post. He admits that while it is still behind on a global level, it is ahead of its regional peers in development and implementation. The government has been a powerful ally for large companies and small startups. For example, the country already has plans to use the technology to tracks trains for maximum efficiency and to avoid accidents, according to internet of businesses. Blockchain is also being developed by the financial world as explained by ASEAN up. It will allow for faster, cheaper money transfers within and between financial institutions as well as serve the underbanked population through payment, loan and saving options. The different sectors of Thailand are clearly committed to using blockchain to make themselves more efficient and competitive on a global scale.

Last Mile Asia

Last Mile ASEAN, is an annual conference dedicated to covering supply chain, operations, e-Commerce, logistics, parcel and delivery for multi-channel retail industries. The event’s goals are to to provide a platform for the fulfillment industry and discuss the latest trends and opportunities presented in cross-border e-Commerce. The fourth iteration was a two day affair that consisted of a series of lectures, such as “How to manage cross border returns,” “Discovering growth through social commerce,” and “Reinvention and Disruption — Strategies Employed to Tackle Last Mile Logistics” as well as panels and discussions. Thanks to the international attendees and representatives from top regional commerce and business companies, the event blended a global perspective with regional and national concerns.

IBL at Last Mile

As previously discussed, the blockchain holds particular power for supply chains, and Thailand’s dynamic environment is particularly receptive to the technology. It therefore makes perfect sense that blockchain was discussed at the event. As a regional leader in research and development, IBL was honored to have Cris Tran, Projects Director, as the sole presenter of the blockchain during the panel “Blockchain, robotics, IoPT: any impact on postal operations?” alongside Mr. Per Lind, Co Founder, IOTA Foundation and Mr. Rohanna Abeyaratne, Postmaster General, Department of Post — Sri Lanka. After providing some basics for the technology he spent time explaining what the technology meant for supply chains. He stressed its ability to increase transparency, enhance credibility and improve security. If the Thai and international companies in attendance adopted blockchain, he explained, there would be improved accuracy of shipments with customer satisfaction to match. Similarly, insurance companies, auditors and logistics providers would be more likely to work with a company if it were employing the blockchain. With more securely kept data and information, all parties would have more trust in the system, which would lead to greater collaboration and expansion. Cris spoke to the multinational group explaining that regardless of the country’s current state of development, the blockchain has a place in driving growth and efficiences.

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Cris Tran, Projects Director, Explains how blockchain can transform supply chains with supply chain industry experts