What Every CEO Must Understand About Blockchain Technology

Techvibes posted an insightful article recently titled, “What Every CEO Must Understand About Blockchain Technology” which breaks down what exactly blockchain is and highlights five main things that CEOs should know about the technology.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Blockchain has grown to become a way of removing the friction that exists when using middle men, and is currently being looked at by corporations around the globe to settle transactions. These transactions involve everything from mortgages to shipping container contents to cross-border payments.
  • With blockchain, companies can resolve transactions in seconds instead of days. It also helps to reduce tampering, fraud and cybercrime.
  • 65 percent of banks plan to start using blockchain by the end of this year, according to IBM. It’s predicted that other industries will catch on to this technology such as healthcare, gaming and government ID creation to name a few.
  • Now is the perfect time to integrate blockchain for companies that would like to transform their industry.
  • Business leaders need to identify which model they plan to transform early on, as blockchain will impact banking in all different areas like retail payments, reference data and consumer lending.

Memphis Agritech: The Seam launches blockchain venture, considers strategy for product roadmap, global footprint

The Seam Chairman and CEO Mark Pryor was interviewed for a May 11, 2017, story on Venture Nashville, the full text of which is available via this link. Below are a few portions of the Chairman’s comments in that story, summarized by The Seam.

The Seam, the Memphis-based creator of agribusiness software and trading and settlement solutions, has created The Seam Blockchain LLC startup. The Seam Chairman and CEO, Mark Pryor, said the company is “actively in discussions” with “powerful tech companies and [ag-commodity] businesses” globally about its plans to extend its offerings beyond [its] long-standing global cotton and peanuts customer bases, to serve players in cocoa, coffee and other sectors, as well.

The Seam and its Blockchain unit aim to quickly move well beyond proof-of-concept work with Blockchain. Asked about the possible extent of its future supply-chain innovations, Pryor indicated that he sees a broad array of use-cases and opportunities, adding that cotton has a presence “from field to fabric” and peanuts have life “from seed to shelf.”

Pryor said the new wholly owned subsidiary is essential to pursuit of the company’s Blockchain-centric agenda, and will allow the company to achieve “the network effect” of global industry participation that it needs.

He explained, “we have worked closely with IBM and the Hyperledger Fabric since January, but are also increasingly working with Ethereum, while reviewing Corda, in parallel. These Blockchain technologies will soon be interoperable, which make it very important for us to have a solid understanding and experience for bridging cross-industry transactions,” in which, for example, banking might prefer Corda, while agribusiness might align with Ethereum or Fabric.

“I think Blockchain is absolutely revolutionary,” said Pryor. He noted that the challenge of widespread Blockchain adoption “is not so much about technology as about research and education” that help people understand the significance of “working with a system of transactions that are immutable, irrefutable.”

Global Supply Chains Are About to Get Better, Thanks to Blockchain

At the heart of a Denver-based company’s recent crisis was the ever-present problem faced by companies that depend on multiple suppliers to deliver parts and ingredients: a lack of transparency and accountability across complex supply chains. Unable to monitor its suppliers in real time, this company could neither prevent the contamination nor contain it in a targeted way after it was discovered.

Now, a slew of startups and corporations are exploring a radical solution to this problem: using a blockchain to transfer title and record permissions and activity logs so as to track the flow of goods and services between businesses and across borders.

With blockchain technology, the core system that underpins bitcoin, computers of separately owned entities follow a cryptographic protocol to constantly validate updates to a commonly shared ledger. A fundamental advantage of this distributed system, where no single company has control, is that it resolves problems of disclosure and accountability between individuals and institutions whose interests aren’t necessarily aligned. Mutually important data can be updated in real time, removing the need for laborious, error-prone reconciliation with each other’s internal records. It gives each member of the network far greater and timelier visibility of the total activity.
How Blockchain Works

In a nutshell, this is a global system for mediating trust and selective transparency. Its advocates say it will take the internet’s empowering potential to its next level. Although much attention and money has been spent on financial applications of the technology, an equally promising test case lies with global supply chain relationships, whose complexity and diversity of interests pose exactly the kinds of challenges this technology seeks to address. The technology can reveal hitherto hidden information and allows users to attach digital tokens — a unique, negotiable form of digital asset, modeled on bitcoin — to intermediate goods as they progress along the production, shipping, and delivery phases of a supply chain and as title to them passes between different players. This could give businesses far greater flexibility to find markets and price risk, by capturing the value that they have invested in the process at any point along the chain. What we end up with are dynamic demand chains in place of rigid supply chains, resulting in more efficient resource use for all.

Read more from Harvard Business Review.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote at the FinTech Ideas Festival 2017

At the 2017 FinTech Ideas Festival, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty discussed cognitive business, recent developments with blockchain and the future of finance, as well as our work to form a cotton blockchain using the Hyperledger Fabric.

The Seam is mentioned around the 18:00 mark.

The Seam to form Cotton Blockchain Consortium with IBM on Hyperledger Fabric

MEMPHIS, Tenn., January 5, 2017 – The Seam, a commodities trading and agribusiness software provider, today announced that it is forming a blockchain consortium for the global cotton industry. Working with IBM (NYSE:IBM), the company intends to lead an industry-wide collaboration initiative to create a supply chain and trading ecosystem built on IBM blockchain technology, specifically using the Hyperledger Fabric.

A blockchain is a secure, distributed and immutable digital ledger enabling companies to work together on a foundation of trust, increased speed and reduced interference. Combined with “smart contracts,” the technology has powerful implications for global trade with cross-border settlement and instantaneous transfer of currency or other assets when defined conditions are met.

“This new technology will be transformational for the cotton industry,” said Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO of The Seam. “There are numerous organizations, processes, systems and transactions involved from field to fabric. Situated at the intersection of agriculture, finance and technology, The Seam with the help of IBM, is uniquely positioned to introduce blockchain technology to cotton-affiliated businesses worldwide.”

The Seam has a successful history of innovation. In 2000, the company began operating the world’s first online, neutral trading exchange for cotton, on which tens of millions of bales have been traded and cleared on its platforms. In September 2016, The Seam launched a cloud-based commodity management system for the peanut industry, the first of its kind.

Blockchain technology encourages broad involvement with the benefits of a network effect, whereby a service becomes more valuable the more participation it has. IBM will play a key role in driving global adoption, with its digital footprint in all cotton producing and consuming regions.

“Blockchain offers enormous potential to drive innovation throughout the cotton industry,” said Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President, IBM Research. “A consortium approach using IBM Blockchain and the Hyperledger Fabric can help create greater efficiency and serve as the foundation of a robust system for massive collaboration.”

The ownership group of The Seam includes renowned cotton leaders Calcot, Cargill, ECOM Agroindustrial Corporation Ltd., EWR, Inc., Louis Dreyfus Company, Olam International, Parkdale Mills, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and Staple Cotton Cooperative Association.

To learn more about the consortium, visit www.theseam.com/blockchain.