Blockchain has the ability of making the products and services of companies inexpensive in comparison with their competitors by cutting middlemen and central authorities. The main resistance to blockchain also comes from those people. Jozef De Coster reports.

Blockchain is much more than bitcoin or other cryptomoney. This relatively new technology (launched in 2008 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto) can already boast successful applications in logistics, supply chain management, production, certification, Internet of Things, e-commerce, intellectual property (IP) protection, joint research and innovation. As a consequence, also in the fashion industry worldwide, the interest for the use of blockchain is growing.

Some people think that blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), is one of the world's most overhyped technologies. However, according to Gartner's famous 'Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies', blockchain is still in the phase of 'Innovation Trigger', together with other emerging technologies like neuromorphic hardware and edge artificial intelligence (AI). All these young technologies are still a few years away from their Peak of Inflated Expectations and 5-10 years from the Plateau of Productivity, when the solutions they bring to previously intractable problems are expected to have a positive effect on the overall productivity in the sectors where implemented. 

According to consultant Deloitte, between 2008 and 2017, worldwide turnover of blockchain applications multiplied by 22. By now, all future oriented companies are supposed to know how the shared and secure ledger which is called 'blockchain' is working.

But using it is still a challenge for most organisations.

Secure and inexpensive

The blockchain experts of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believe that blockchain could potentially transform many existing processes in business, governance and society. In a recent report for the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, PwC described  blockchain as "a foundational emerging technology of the fourth industrial revolution, much like the internet was for the previous (or third) industrial revolution"

But, what makes blockchain different from the existing methods used to keep track of physical, financial and other transactions?

According to PwC, the defining features of blockchain are "its distributed and immutable (or unalterable) ledger and advanced cryptography, which enable the transfer of a range of assets among parties securely and inexpensively without third-party intermediaries".

Services like Amazon Web Services, Google Drive, Dropbox, Patent database, etc, are used to store files and manage data. However, it has become clear that these services are vulnerable to attacks because of their centralised nature. Huge quantities of secret client and own data can be hacked and made public. Governments who want to spy on companies and on their own citizens can force the web services to disclose data. The decentralisation principle on which blockchain is based makes it nearly impossible for attackers to succeed.