Forbes recently published its annual Blockchain 50 list. In our deep dive, we saw that the biggest companies in the world are working on blockchain technology, most often with platforms like Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum, and Corda. This time, we wanted to see the actual products being built by these companies.
As we looked deeper into the data, it became clear that the most popular use cases were in two categories: traceability & provenance; and payments & settlements. We thought that it would be interesting to understand the specific products that the Forbes 50 companies were building in these areas.
Before we get to the products, it’s good to understand how we compiled this data. At Blockdata, we track the blockchain initiatives at every major company, as well as the technology being built by hundreds of projects. From here, we categorize each project into an industry and its use case(s). We also compile data on the individual products and services that these companies are working on. We then classify the stage of development that these products are at, ranging from proof of concept (PoC) and prototype through to pilot programs and finally production for the most advanced products.
Traceability & Provenance
Our data shows that 15 companies of the Forbes 50 list are working on products tackling traceability and provenance. This use case is spread across a number of industries, including agriculture, mining, aerospace, food, and automotive. Cargill, the largest private company in the United States by revenue, is working on an open-source platform called Splinter. The platform allows for “privacy-focused communication and transactions between organizations” in its supply chain, making use of various Hyperledger products, including Sawtooth, Grid, and Transact. Similarly, Foxconn, contract manufacturers of consumer electronics like iPhones and Playstations, is using blockchain technology to streamline financing through Chained Finance for its suppliers, many of whom are SMEs.
IBM, backers of the Hyperledger blockchain project and its many platforms, makes an appearance because of the Food Trust initiative. This program allows companies to quickly and accurately ascertain the provenance of individual goods in its supply chain. Notable participants include Walmart, Nestlé, and Dole Foods.
Payments & Settlements
The second most popular category of development is in Payments and Settlements. Naturally, the companies in this list are primarily in financial services, with a handful outside of this list. Banking giant JP Morgan’s Quorum blockchain was originally built on Ethereum but adds features such as permissioned access to make it more attractive to fellow enterprise users. Ripple, a much newer entrant into the financial services space, is known for its XRP Ledger and accompanying XRP cryptocurrency. RippleNet, which bills itself as the “world’s most accessible global payments network”, is partnered with a number of big name financial institutions, including Santander, remittance network MoneyGram (a company Ripple is part owner of), and Japanese bank MUFG. Square, run by Twitter CEO and bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey, now attributes half of the revenue of its popular Cash App to bitcoin, with a total of $516 million brought in during 2019 via bitcoin.
Outside of traditional financial services, we have automaker Daimler, whose Truck-ID and Truck Wallet products aim to allow vehicles to autonomously transact with other machines. For example, they successfully tested automatic payments for electric recharging stations for their next generation of heavy good vehicles.
And of course, what would a list of major companies working on blockchain payments be without a mention of Facebook’s Project Libra. Despite losing several high profile members of its governing body, the Libra Association, the project has made a huge impact in terms of getting central banks and regulators to pay attention to digital currencies. Time will tell if Libra is released as a currency, and in what form, but it’s no accident that the majority of activity around central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) came after Facebook’s announcement last year that it was working on a digital currency.
It’s clear from the products being built and put into use that the world’s largest firms are using blockchain technology to address real problems. Areas like digital identity and asset tokenization, while less popular in this list, will see massive growth over the next few years as companies figure out how to digitize physical assets. Don’t be surprised if your car starts scheduling its own maintenance (and paying for it from its own wallet), or being able to invest in fractional ownership of real estate projects as easily as you can trade stocks. The work being done on bringing blockchain technology to the wider world is just a glimpse of the implementation we will see in the near future.
Do your own research
In order to support the blockchain ecosystem in this challenging time, Blockdata has now opened up access to its data platform at a drastically lower price point. We have a referral program in place which makes it possible to use Blockdata for free when you invite friends, family, or colleagues.