The bank confirmed it tracked a batch of 17,000 kilograms (approximately 37,000 pounds) of almonds using a private blockchain built on the Ethereum network.
The use of blockchain allowed the shipment to be tracked from its source, in Sunraysia in Victoria, Australia, all the way to its delivery in Hamburg, Germany. According to the announcement, CBA partners could check in on the location, temperature, humidity, and other metrics of the shipment at any point in real-time, regardless of where it was.
“Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent,” CBA exec Chris Scougall said. “We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.”
In 2016, CBA, Wells Fargo and Brighann Cotton successfully completed the first interbank transaction which made use of blockchain and smart contracts alongside the Internet of Things. With the CBA’s continued focus in technological development and continued investment in blockchain, it’s likely that we’ll see them develop further use cases in future.
How that blockchain future will look like remains to be seen, but with the successful tracking of almonds – as mundane as that may sound – the technology is one step closer to real-world use cases.
Despite calling the experiment a success, CBA has yet to roll out the technology for the rest of the world to use. But judging by this latest pilot, we might not be all that far away from that point.
CBA claims that participating nodes were placed at numerous strategic points across the supply chain, but it stopped short of explaining precisely how the nodes operate – or what would happen if one were to fail. But the concerns don’t end here. Factoring in that the system runs on Ethereum, it remains unclear how costly it is to log tracking data in the system, given that a transaction must be made for each instance of communication.
This news comes only a couple of weeks after the Bank of England announced that it would be exploring the use of blockchain, and distributed ledger technology in attempts to rejuvenate their Real-Time Gross Settlement system (RTGS). Clearly, the affordances offered by the tech are not going unnoticed by the world’s largest banks.