IBM And The Blockchain: What Big Blue Did in 2017

When we talk about conventional players adopting new-age innovative technologies, the 106-year-old technology giant IBM (IBM), popularly known as Big Blue, comes to the forefront. One area where IBM is working aggressively to stay ahead of the curve is the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), commonly known as blockchain. During 2017, IBM ranked number one among blockchain technology providers based on an enterprise survey by Juniper.

Here’s a look at IBM’s blockchain initiatives and collaborations during the year, along with the expectations for 2018.

Cross-Border Payments

In October, IBM in collaboration with and KlickEx Group announced a blockchain solution to enable cross-border paymentson the blockchain at reduced settlement time and cost; it is already processing live transactions in 12 currency corridors across the Pacific Islands and Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.


Sony Corporation and Sony Global Education worked with IBM to develop a new blockchain-based student education records platform. Under the new system, school administrators can consolidate and manage students' educational data from several schools, as well as record and refer their learning history and digital academic transcripts with more certainty—bringing more efficiency in the education system.

Food Safety

“An estimated 600 million—almost 1 in 10 people in the world—fall sick after eating contaminated food and 420,000 deaths are reported every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years,” according to the World Health Organization’s factsheet. To tackle this grave issue and ensure greater consumer confidence in the global food system, a group of 10 food producers and retailers—Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart—have used IBM Blockchain to solve these issues.


Earlier in 2017, a digital identity and attribute sharing network was unveiled by IBM and SecureKey Technologies. Consumers will use the network to instantly verify their identity for services such as new bank accounts, driver’s license or utilities. Once the network goes live, expected in early 2018, Canadian consumers will be able to opt for the new blockchain-based service using a mobile app or Windows device.


To deliver multinational insurance more efficiently, AIG, IBM and Standard Chartered Bank conducted a successful pilot of the first multinational, ‘smart contract’-based insurance policy using blockchain. Multinational risk transfer is one of the most complicated areas of commercial insurance and the use of blockchain can reduce friction besides building trust in the process.

Luxury Goods

The more precious the asset, the higher the probability of people committing crime to gain a share in it. Diamonds are no exception. The $80 billion diamond industry suffers from problems such as theft, fraud, diamond-fueled conflict and more. IBM and Everledger are working together to ensure that all of diamonds are authentic and follow strict compliance.

Private Equity Trading

Northern Trust Corporation (NTRS), in collaboration with IBM launched the first commercial deployment of blockchain technology for the private equity market. The network is being used for managing the administration of a private equity fund managed by Unigestion, a Geneva, Switzerland-based asset manager with $20 billion in assets under management.


IBM and A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S (AMKAF) joined hands to build a new global trade digitalization blockchain solution to reduce the cost and complexities in the process, bringing significant improvement in maritime supply chain efficiency and enabling seamless global trade.

Commercial Standpoint

When we discuss companies and businesses, cost and revenue are two fundamental factors underlying crucial decisions. This is where the commercial standpoint of the blockchain technology comes into play. It is projected that the blockchain market size will grow to $7.7 billion by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of almost 80% from 241.9 million in 2016.

What Lies Ahead

The above use-cases reflect the in-depth involvement of IBM with multiple parties across industries to push the adoption of blockchain. However, the next big question is what lies ahead. A very important aspect of which is the increasing adoption of consumers and businesses with blockchain. As more and more industries feel the direct impact of blockchain, and understand its advantages, the gap between theory and practice will narrow substantially. It will be advanced technologies like the blockchain that will define technology companies such as IBM in the times ahead.

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

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

More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.