IBM has announced two major partnerships this week as they lead the way in the implementation of blockchain technology. IBM’s partnership with shipping conglomerate Maerk will focus on streamlining the complicated process of shipping goods on a global level, and their collaboration with retail giant Walmart seeks to improve food tracking and safety in China.

Redefining global shipping

The joint venture between IBM and Maerk results in a new and as-yet-unnamed company built on blockchain technology. The company is set to be headquartered in New York City and—provided they pass all regulations—should begin operations in six months. Michael J. White, CEO of the unnamed company, confirmed the need for innovative technology since “there is considerable demand for efficiency gains and opportunities coming from streamlining and standardizing information flows.” IBM and Maerk propose that using blockchain to reduce technical barriers and red tape will increase global trade by 15 percent, boost economies, and create jobs.

Improving food tracking

IBM and Walmart have announced a collaboration with JD.com, one of China’s largest retailers, in hopes of bringing safer food to China. This new collaboration is an extension of a previous initiative that began in the U.S. in August, and is part of a global initiative to bring verifiability, transparency, and efficiency to food supply chains worldwide.

A distributed ledger showing how and where food was grown and how it was handled, stored, and shipped could help prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. For an example of effectiveness, Walmart pointed to a pilot program that traced the origin of a package of mangoes in only two seconds, compared to the multiple days previously required. Therefore, any contaminated food could be recalled in a matter of moments rather than weeks.

In with the new

IBM is leading the way with these partnerships, but they are by no means alone in their use of blockchain technology. Legal companies have already begun embracing blockchain to reduce paperwork and to ensure companies and consumers can share a more equitable balance of power.

Consumers are looking for greater transparency, safer online and offline experiences, and more security. The implementation of blockchain in a variety of industries is only the start of the next wave of promising technology.

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