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David Drake

February 14, 2019Article

MIT's Perspective: Why this Top Institute Thinks Blockchain Will go Mainstream this Year

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the leading Science and Technology institutes in the US, has predicted that blockchain will become the norm in 2019. As a critical part of the infrastructure governing digital coins, the technology is embedded with potent features such as transparency and tracking mechanisms, that will prove vital to across sectors.

Developers in different sectors have plans of integrating blockchain technology into their day-to-day operations, while steering clear of its original use with cryptocurrencies that remain unstable. Pilot projects have been launched, and beta-testing used among a myriad of corporations in a bid to discover best use cases for the technology.

Blockchain in Retail

The retail industry has for a while now, been exploring the use of blockchain technology in tracking shipping of products, from farm to table. Walmart has been testing blockchain as a supply tracker for several years. This retail giant had mandated suppliers of leafy green vegetables to subscribe to its system by September of last year. It has plans to achieve full operations later this year.

Carrefour, Europe’s largest super store currently uses blockchain to track eggs, chicken and tomatoes en route the stores from farms as a food safety measure. It is expected that this technology will aid in detecting salmonella from poultry and eggs, which has been a major health concern in recent times.

The automotive industry has set its eyes on integrating blockchain in the manufacturing and sales of vehicles. Statistics show that 62% of auto executives agree the technology will shake the industry up by 2021. Further, 95% of this number has plans to invest in blockchain over the next 3 years, according to an IBM report.

At the same time, smart contracts, which are self-activating, have been hailed as crucial components for these transactions, and are expected to be bolstered via a wide scale use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) embedded into blockchain. German automobile firm, Porsche has been actively testing the use of blockchain since February of 2018. The company has already run tests on parking, locking and unlocking cars and has appreciated the benefits of using the technology to loan vehicles to employees.

Blockchain in Finance

One of the reasons why institutional investors, family offices, and hedge funds have not flocked the crypto market is infrastructure that is is not ideal due to lack of clarity in regulation. But this is slowly changing, the finance sector is getting a nudge, thanks to Wall Street's crypto backing.

Fidelity Investments, one of Wall Street's financial players already launched a subsidiary company, Fidelity Digital Assets, which will offer crypto clients custody services. Also, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owner of the NYSE, one of Wall Street’s top players, is set to launch its digital asset exchange early this year.

Digital assets have also captured the attention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Just recently, the IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, appeared to support 'central-bank-backed digital currencies' in light of several countries exploring national digital currencies as an option to traditional fiat.

But for William Davis, Managing Director of
LDJ Capital, more focus needs to be on the culture that blockchain propagates as opposed to the technology itself.

He says, “Perhaps more important than the technology is the culture of transparency, immutability and personal data ownership will create opportunities for option retail shopping with targeted marketing that is content rich and requested as opposed to intrusive and very often not desired. Pattern recognition from anonymized data will bring quick insights with real time pattern recognition of product launches, sales growth and failures.”

A strong and stable system is required to maintain a central-bank backed digital asset in the US and other countries. Fidelity is on track when it comes to using blockchain to create a safe holding environment, even as pressure to include this financial asset and system in regulation mounts. Nonetheless, MIT believes blockchain will be commonplace this year, and, from the looks of things, this might not be a far-fetched theory.

Disclaimer: David Drake is on the advisory board for most of the firms mentioned or quoted in this article.

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