IBM and Blockchain: What It Did In 2018, And Where It's Going In 2019

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With over 500 client engagements in blockchain across diverse industries, IBM (IBM) is at the forefront of the blockchain technology revolution. In 2018 alone, IBM Blockchain announced more than 45 client wins that demonstrated how blockchain is increasingly being used to infuse trust and transparency into processes.

Based on an enterprise survey by Juniper, IBM emerged as the most-preferred blockchain technology provider in 2018 with the support of 65% of respondents.

Here’s a look at IBM’s blockchain initiatives and collaborations during 2018, along with an overview of initial projects for 2019.


In January 2018, Maersk and IBM announced their intent to establish a new blockchain platform to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain. After the January announcement, A.P. Moller–Maersk and IBM introduced TradeLens in August 2018. The blockchain-enabled shipping solution is designed to promote more efficient, transparent and secure global trade.

The cost of global trade is estimated at $1.8 trillion annually, and it is projected that streamlined and efficient processes can result in potential savings of approximately 10%. In one example, TradeLens showed a 40% reduction in transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the U.S., saving thousands of dollars in cost. 


Underneath the glitter of gold and diamonds is a darker side (illegal extraction, fraud, theft) that results in doubt and loss of trust. A Nelson report suggests that 66% of consumers globally are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Maintaining traceability and transparency is one way to ensure customer confidence.

The TrustChain, launched in April 2018 by gold and diamond industry leaders and IBM, is the first cross-industry initiative to use blockchain to trace the provenance of finished pieces of jewelry across the supply chain to its origin, for increased transparency and authenticity.


Mediaocean and IBM launched a blockchain consortium for the digital media supply chain. Mediaocean is the world's leading media software company that power $150 billion in global media budgets, serving more than 80,000 users across segments worldwide. In recent years, “the industry has been plagued with unsustainable economics and transparency issues that hinder progress – particularly around intermediary fees and non-working media” says Bill Wise, CEO, Mediaocean.

The Mediaocean and IBM blockchain solution is designed to tackle supply chain opacity mainly caused by a huge number of intermediaries, which makes it difficult for advertisers and agencies to identify exactly how much spend is going towards "working media." 


IBM has powered the Dubai Blockchain Platform—the first government-endorsed blockchain platform as-a-service launched the United Arab Emirates. Smart Dubai 2021 envisions a paperless government, and the Dubai Blockchain Strategy has a major role to achieve the same by making "Dubai the first city fully powered by Blockchain by 2020.”

A number of blockchain applications in a number of government entities across different sectors, have been launched by IBM (its strategic partner). The new Dubai Blockchain Platform will help integrate digitized services and experiences run on IBM Blockchain into citizens' day-to-day lives. This will support organizations with updated data and help in reducing operational costs.


In October 2018, IBM Food Trust was made generally available after 18 months in testing. IBM Food trust is witnessing strong adoption and support. Carrefour, a leading global retailer with more than 12,000 stores in 33 countries joined the platform. While Walmart and Sam’s Club moved closer to real-world adoption; they have asked suppliers of leafy greens to implement “real-time, end-to-end traceability back to the farm” using blockchain technology by September 2019.

It was back in October 2016 when IBM and Walmart started work on a pilot study to demonstrate the benefits of tracing food products on blockchain. In 2017, leading group of companies including Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart, joined hands with IBM to further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system.

2019 So Far

In just the first two months of 2019, IBM has made a number of blockchain-related announcements across a variety of industries:

To curtail the inefficiencies due to manual, paper-based processes and a lack of transparency between supply chain participants in the mining and metal markets, MineHub Technologies, Inc. has recently collaborated with IBM for the use of blockhain technology. MineHub is closely working with Goldcorp Inc. (GG), ING Bank (ING), Kutcho Copper Corp., Ocean Partners USA Inc. and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (WPM) to build the new mining supply chain solution leveraging blockchain.

In another project designed to support the environment and ethical mining, Ford Motor Company (F), Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem and RCS Global have plans to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals. The project focuses on Cobalt which is in high demand for use in batteries for laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles.

In healthcare, Aetna, Anthem (ANTM), Health Care Service Corporation, PNC Bank (PNC) and IBM collaborated to create a network using blockchain to improve transparency and interoperability in the healthcare industry. Cigna and Sentara are the newest member to join IBM's health utility network.

Over the course of 2018, IBM has demonstrated progress with projects which were once on trial, that are now gradually being implanted in the real-world. IBM’s focus on blockchain may soon ensure that whenever enterprises think blockchain, they think IBM.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: News Headlines , Blockchain , Big Data , Technology
Referenced Symbols: IBM

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