Martin Barker, the Finance Director of TGMatrix, argued that blockchain has the potential to completely transform transport and supply chain practice and financing due to it offering a secure, immutable and tamper-proof distributed ledger.
Once a block of data has been recorded it is there in perpetuity, for all users to refer to. Information can be added but can’t be deleted retrospectively, and because the chain doesn’t reside on just one party’s systems, no single player ‘owns’ the chain. Everybody in a transaction can trust the data, rather than having to ‘trust’ an individual or organisation. The effect is not unlike the ‘chain of evidence’ that the prosecution is required to establish in criminal court cases.
The technology’s potential has already been explored by numerous major players. For example, Agility, a global logistics provider, is working with IBM and Maersk on solutions for global shipping. Meanwhile, The Blockchain in Transport Alliance has recently announced that OpenPort, the digital logistics platform that uses blockchain technology to transform domestic distribution in emerging markets, has joined its ranks alongside members such as UPS, FedEx and Penske.
The challenges are not in the blockchain itself, but in creating the appropriate applications. For TGMatrix, blockchain processes have an obvious relation to the company’s intelligent freight matching solution.
“Our clients need secure and immutable records to verify compliance, including their duties to third parties, in real time and to enable prompt payment. At present a typical supply chain bridges multiple manual systems with error-prone manual inputs. Blockchain could also bring more certainty to debt management and payment. In complex, multi currency transactions, for example, payment can be fixed at the exchange rate of the moment,” explained Martin.
Currently, TGMatrix is working alongside a leading UK university to explore how blockchain could work with the company’s agent-based technology in the complex, real time situations experienced by its users.