FedEx, the US-based shipping giant, has joined Hyperledger, an open-source blockchain firm that sports more than 270 affiliates.
A press release regarding the partnership explained that FedEx is looking to “advance cross-industry blockchain technologies”. They will be joining the likes of JPMorgan, Intel, IBM, and other notable names as a member of Hyperledger.
Representatives of FedEx said that they look forward to applying blockchain technology to supply chain transportation, and logistic aspects of their industry and that they will “continue to explore the applications and help set the standards for wide-scale blockchain adoption in our industry and others”.
FedEx previously stated their interest in using the blockchain to improve their supply chains. FedEx’s CEO, Fred Smith, said that blockchain would allow each step of the supply chain to be catalogued and monitored and that the loss or misplacement of packages would likely be mitigated due to this.
In pursuit of this goal, FedEx is not simply stopping with Hyperledger. The shipping firm is also partner to Blockchain Research Institute which works to analyze how blockchain effects business, government, technology, and society as a whole.
“Blockchain has the potential to completely revolutionize what’s across the border.”
Speaking at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 in New York today, Fred Smith, chairman and CEO of the U.S. logistic giant FedEx, doubled down on his commitment to embracing blockchain technology as a way for the decades-old company to maintain its game in a rapidly changing digital world.
Smith explained that one major issue that the logistic and transportation industry has faced is the “massive amount of friction” in cross-border logistics, since different countries have different standards, regulations and terminologies.
He told the audience:
“For cross-border shipments, ‘trust’ is legal requirement for every transaction. What blockchain has is a potential for the first time ever to make the information available for everybody.”
As such, the FedEx chief praised the “chain of custody” that blockchain can bring to the entire logistic industry.
All this talk isn’t just hot air, either – FedEx joined the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance (BiTA) in February this year in a bid to explore potential blockchain applications alongside other partners within the logistic industry.
At the time, the firm also launched a pilot program to establish what data would be needed for a distributed ledger to ease disputes between customers sending and receiving goods through FedEx. The shipping giant also wants to use blockchain to store its records.
Also speaking at the panel session, Robert Carter, FedEx’s CIO and executive vice president of information services, said the firm will first explore that deployment in the freight industry, since one single ship could contain millions of transactions at the same time.
“We move easily 12 million shipments a day and that more than doubles during the peak seasons. While we absolutely believe this technology is going to scale, right now it makes sense for us to do this in our freight world.”
Answering a question from the panel’s host, author Don Tapscott, on how he persuaded Smith to approve the decision on blockchain exploration, Carter said, in fact, it was the other way round.
“It’s Fred that dragged me into this,” Carter said, adding:
“The application of these custody chains … is so critical to the information aspect. We’re operating on this plane between the physical world and the digital world.”
Speaking on the importance of moving with the times as a company, Smith concluded:
“If you are not operating at the edge of new technologies, you will surely be disrupted. If you are not willing to embrace new technologies like internet of things and blockchain to face those new threats, you are, maybe subtly, at some point … going to extinction.”
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