How blockchain is enabling new ways of doing business

Published: March 11, 2020 12:45 AM

Blockchain solutions are transforming the way companies and individuals do business, locally and globally, by simplifying transactions and increasing their efficiency.

Blockchain works by establishing a peer-to-peer network where each participant maintains a database—a ledger—of all the network’s transactions.Blockchain works by establishing a peer-to-peer network where each participant maintains a database—a ledger—of all the network’s transactions.

By Madhusudan Shekar

As the world becomes more interconnected, opportunities for companies and individuals to interact and transact across borders, time zones and channels grow quickly. To make sure these run smoothly, proactive management—to ensure minimisation of cost, lowering of risk, and elimination of inefficiencies—is needed.

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) such as blockchain helps simplify transactions and conduct efficient, secure interactions with multiple independent parties around the globe, without the need for a third-party intermediary. These transactions can vary from sending anything from farm data to banking and contract transactions.

Blockchain works by establishing a peer-to-peer network where each participant maintains a database—a ledger—of all the network’s transactions. Compiled into “blocks”, transactions are then linked together using cryptographic hashes forming a “chain”. The cryptographically-connected blocks create an underlying data layer that provides a common, unified view of information for parties who can access the data. This gives organisations a new way of establishing trusted business networks. Today, building a scalable blockchain network with existing technologies is complex to set up and hard to manage. To create a blockchain network, each network member needs to manually provision hardware, install software, create and manage certificates for access control, and configure networking components. Once the blockchain network is running, you need to monitor the infrastructure and adapt to changes, such as an increase in transaction requests, or new members joining or leaving the network.

Blockchain is addressing customer pain-points and enabling new ways of doing business.

Use case 1: Farmers collect large volumes of data during planting and harvesting. Licensed data—it qualifies as intellectual property of a farmer such as which crops to plant or how many seedlings—can be anonymised, sold to third parties and offer the agricultural industry with real-time insights on farms across the world. However, farmers are unsure how to monetise this crop data.

Farmobile addresses these challenges through a blockchain-based exchange built on AWS. The solution empowers farmers to licence data to approved buyers and includes account set-up, creation, confirmation, execution of the offer, and delivery of the digital asset. They can sell single-use licences while keeping their farm’s identity anonymous. However, farmers have full visibility into the identities of potential data buyers, such as agronomists, equipment producers and retailers, and are free to decline offers.

Use case 2: Moving resources through the oil and gas supply chain involves many stakeholders, including landowners, governments, oil and gas company operators, surveyors, and financial institutions. One critical step occurs between those mining the oil and royalty owners on whose land the oil is mined. Checking royalty transaction payments is a lengthy, manual process where stakeholders must agree to contract terms upfront. However, those terms are often interpreted differently on either side, leading to disputes.

GuildOne believed companies needed more efficient, secure and cost-effective ways to execute royalty contract transactions. It developed a solution through which contract terms are capable of being replicated, and consensus agreed using blockchain.

To build its royalty ledger and to meet the stringent privacy and security needs of its stakeholders, GuildOne chose R3’s Corda—a blockchain platform built for business and longevity—on AWS. Believing that the security capabilities gained would be vital in enabling rapid adoption of the royalty ledger solution in the oil and gas industry.

Blockchain solutions are transforming the way companies and individuals do business, locally and globally, by simplifying transactions and increasing their efficiency. Those looking to take advantage of the technology should partner with cloud providers capable of scaling up while delivering cybersecurity controls and standards to protect from external attacks. Cloud providers can make it easy to create and manage blockchain networks and make it possible to build applications where multiple parties can execute trustworthy transactions.

The author is head, Solutions Architecture, Startups, Amazon Internet Services

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