Blockchain technology is expanding across different industries and sectors. Organisations are building customers trust based on traceability, sustainability and fair trade, as well as finding opportunities for improvement through to the use of reliable data. It is not only the private sector that are getting involved, public organisations and governments are also proactively adopting this technology and participating in its development.

Protecting citizens against fraud

Deutsche Telekom started an initiative last year to help the industry respond quicker to smartphone theft. Previously, the German telecommunications provider could quickly switch off network access to stolen devices but couldn’t prevent the smartphone from being used on other networks. “Unfortunately, smartphone theft is a lucrative business,” says Dr. Stephan Westermeyr, vice president of Order Management and Billing at Deutsche Telekom. “If we succeed in using blockchain technology to dry up this black market, we’ll not only protect smartphone users against theft, but safeguard companies’ sensitive business data for the long term as well.” Deutsche Telekom worked in partnership with Camelot ITLab and SAP to develop a blockchain solution that could be used across the telecom industry to list and identify stolen devices. Now, network operators, smartphone manufacturers, end users and authorised parties can blacklist a stolen device and immediately inform all other operators.

Fighting bureaucracy

The government of South Tyrol, a province in the Italian Alps is on a mission of engaging better with its citizens and provide them with an enjoyable and efficient service. Prior to using SAP blockchain, citizens were required to fill in long forms with their personal information every time they engaged with public departments. To reduce bureaucratic processes, South Tirol replaced inefficient legacy systems with SAP Leonardo’s blockchain technology that runs in the SAP Cloud Platform and created a prototype that requires citizens to enter their information only once.  The data is then verified and secured with blockchain technology.  South Tyrol is now able to provide a better and more efficient service to its citizens in all public offices and is able to comply with European data sharing regulations. This model has been so successful it is being considered to deploy across the rest of Italy.

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Defying counterfeit

Protecting our oceans is a worldwide concern, and as businesses and customers are more aware of the risks of overfishing, fish companies are adopting practices that support sustainability and circular economy while providing customers with guaranteed quality products.

Norwegian salmon represents 59% of the world’s farmed salmon. To protect the industry’s reputation, Norwegian SAP and IBM consultancy EY Skye developed a blockchain solution on SAP Cloud Platform that tracks salmon from egg to fish, and across the supply chain to point of sale, even if the fish is cut or transformed into a different product, ensuring customers are provided with the product they paid for.  The solution includes an application where customers can rate the product’s quality, enabling producers to identify bad batches of fish – which can happen through farm contamination or a change in storage temperature whilst travelling. This information provides producers and suppliers with opportunities to minimize risks and identify areas of improvement, and gives retailers, restaurants and consumers (who can now find product information via QR codes on packaging) more confidence in the source and quality of the product.

The technology of the future

There are other international organisations that are proactively participating in developing blockchain. The European Union Intellectual Property Office and the European Commission established the ‘EU Blockathon competition’ in 2018, gathering a wide community around the problem of IPR infringement with the aim of designing and implementing the next level of anti-counterfeiting infrastructure. The EUIPO has since created the anti-counterfeit Blockathon Forum to connect organisations, enforcement authorities and citizens to help the transport and proof of authentic goods and address the challenges of counterfeiting.

More recently, during GITEX Technology Week 2019, the Ministry of Community Development in the United Arab Emirates opened an invitation to programmers, graphic and interface designers to compete in ‘The Blockathon Social Competition’, the latest initiative to make the city of Dubai the world’s first “Blockchain City”. The Social Blockathon is a competition where participants will be challenged to develop blockchain-apps in the areas of awareness and social care to win a prize of 30,000 AED ($8,200) for the team who creates the best blockchain social enterprise project.  There is no doubt that new and improved blockchain solutions will be developed in the upcoming years and we can expect it to be one of the most powerful emerging technologies.

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