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5 enterprise-related things you can do with blockchain technology today

Peter Sayer | Dec. 13, 2016
You can track diamonds and make payments with blockchains ... but what link do they have with pork?

If you were looking to hire someone with blockchain expertise, and the applicant told you they had a professional certification, what would you do to check the certificate's validity?

Software developer Learning Machine hopes candidates will present their certificates in its mobile app, and that you will check their validity using Blockcerts. This is a way of storing details of a certificate in the blockchain, so that anyone can verify its content and the identity of the person to whom it was issued without the need to contact a central issuing authority.

The certificates can be about educational qualifications, professional training, membership of a group, anything, so if your organization issues certificates, you could issue them on the blockchain, too. Learning Machine and co-developer MIT Media Lab have published details of Blockcerts as an open standard and posted the code to Github.

Diamonds are forever

Diamonds, they say, are forever, so that means whatever system you use to track them is going to have to stand the test of time too.

Everledger is counting on blockchain technology to prove the provenance and ownership of diamonds recorded in its ledger. In fact, it's using two blockchains: A private one to record information that diamond sellers need to share with buyers, but may not want widely known, and the public bitcoin blockchain to provide an indisputable timestamp for the private records.

The company built its first diamond database on the Eris blockchain application platform developed by Monax but recently moved to a system running in IBM's Bluemix cloud.

Diamonds are eminently traceable as the uncut ones have unique physical characteristics and the cut ones are, these days, typically laser-etched with a tiny serial number. Recording each movement of such valuable items allows insurers to identify fraud and international bodies to ensure that trade in diamonds is not funding conflicts.

Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp believes the system could transform trade in other valuable commodities, too. The company has identified luxury goods and works of art as possibilities.

And finally, the pork

But what about the pork? It may not be worth as much by weight as a diamond, but in China at least, it more than makes up for that in volume. And because pork is not forever, being able to demonstrate that a particular piece of it is fresh and fit for consumption can be vital.

Pork is one of many products for which fine-grained tracking and tracing of inventory can be helpful, and happens to be the one Walmart is testing blockchain technology with. It's using IBM's blockchain to record where each piece of pork it sells in China comes from, where and how it is processed, its storage temperature and expected expiration date.

 

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