Starbucks, Louis Dreyfus, Walmart see value in blockchain
Executives from Starbucks Corp., The Louis Dreyfus Co. and Walmart, Inc. all have expressed interest in blockchain technology over the past few months.
Howard D. Schultz, founder and executive chairman of Seattle-based Starbucks, spoke about blockchain and other technological advancements in a Jan. 25 earnings call.
“We all can probably remember 20 years ago or so when someone tapped us on the shoulder and asked us, ‘Do you know anything about this thing called the internet?’” he said. “And we probably all can remember that moment. Well, 20 years later or so, the world has been completely transformed, and we’re all connected in ways that no one could possibly ever imagine.”
He said blockchain technology, through its trust and legitimacy, eventually could fit into Starbucks’ mobile payment digital platform.
“I believe that we are heading into a new age in which blockchain technology is going to provide a significant level of a digital currency that is going to have a consumer application, and I believe that Starbucks is in a unique position to take advantage of that,” Mr. Schultz said.
He said the company has yet to make a significant investment in blockchain, but “we are in a position to create a trusted legitimate place in which this could be accepted and possibly take advantage of the mobile payment digital platform that we have created.”
Successful soybean transaction
In January, a transaction involving a soybean shipment from the United States to Canada was completed by using a blockchain platform. Louis Dreyfus, Shangdong Bohi Industry Co. Ltd., ING, Societe Generale and ABN Amro were involved in the transaction, which included a full set of digitalized documents (sales contract, letter of credit, certificates) and automatic data matching. Time spent on processing documents and data was reduced by about 80%.
“One thing is clear: The digital revolution is transforming the commodities sector,” said Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena, chief executive officer of Louis Dreyfus. “Distributed ledger technologies have been evolving rapidly, bringing more efficiency and security to our transactions and immense expected benefits for our customers and everyone along the supply chain as well.”
Walmart in China
In December 2017, Walmart said it would work with JD.com, IBM and the Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies. The collaboration will seek to create a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, safety and authenticity of food, using blockchain technology to provide real-time traceability throughout the supply chain.
IBM will provide its blockchain platform. Tsinghua University in Beijing will act as a technical adviser. JD.com is an e-commerce company and retailer in China.
“Through collaboration, standardization and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all,” said Frank Yiannas, vice-president, food safety and health at Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart.