Blockchain builds trust, security and efficiency.
Second in a series about blockchain and B2B.
The Bitcoin frenzy has made it very difficult to understand blockchain technology and advanced ledger technologies. Until they are more easily understood, B2B interests cannot take advantage of the potential profits. But that won’t be the case for very long.
Blockchain is a sophisticated algorithm created for cryptocurrency. It drives a distributed data structure that manages electronic cash movements. It replaces the administrative role of a central bank or government backing.
The blockchain is the repository and distributor of virtual coins. Crypto-coins are not carried or handled, but they do trade, multiply and function thanks to the blockchain at the center. If you picture a business ledger that updates itself in real-time, multiplying that picture by billions of data spaces will give you some illustration of the way blockchain works.
For B2B companies, it can be a virtual bank—moving money, accepting deposits, completing transactions and more. This differs from online banking where your business is subject to regulation, monitoring, business hours and other restrictions.
How Does Blockchain Technology Help B2B companies?
- Efficient supply chains. The blockchain is open to all members of the network. An IBM report notes, “This ‘shared version of events’ enables improved supply chain efficiencies, better multi-party collaboration, and streamlined resolution processes when exceptions or disputes occur.” It does not replace legacy chain supply software, but it engages new realities like the expanding data flows presented by the Internet of Things.
- Improved sales processes. “The B2B sales process is based on relationships and responsibility,” said Jeremy Epstein, blockchain marketing expert and CEO of blockchain consulting firm, Never Stop Marketing. B2B sales relationships are ongoing, have a longer lifespan, and in general, require a longer sales cycle than B2C sales. “Trust is essential to B2B sales success and blockchain technology represents a way to expedite the creation of trusted relationships at lower costs” he continued. His eBook, The CMO Primer for the Blockchain World, points out that only 50% of businesses check buyer credit worthiness, request secure forms of payment, or both. And 81.5% of companies report employing credit management policies to mitigate trade risks.
- Ease and speed. Joe McKendrick points out that, with this open access system, “blockchain’s value proposition is that it takes out the middlemen in transactions, enabling more autonomous types of engagements.” Easing and escalating the speed of financial transactions, blockchain replaces banks, credit card processing and checking. This reduces cost to B2B vendors and customers.
- Beyond fintech.B2B Business Network believes, “Outside of fintech applications, blockchain has yet to make its impact felt.” However, contributor Derek Handova predicted B2B applications will catch on soon. In 2016, the writer saw it serving only the finance/tech world. But, he envisioned future value in real estate transactions, identity management, healthcare records and more. He called it a “Swiss Army Knife of technology.”
- Safe and secure.Phoebe Luckhurst insists, “The future is in the chain.” But she also admits that the blockchain is only as good as its code, and codes have been cracked. Goldman Sachs agrees on its credibility, calling it “a faster, safer way to verify key information and establish trust.” And Professor Kevin Werbach at Wharton refers to “a new architecture of trust,” a system where you do not deal with an intermediary person, institution or authority.
- Real savings. B2B merchants in retail or online need the cost savings promised by blockchain dealing. First and fundamentally, it speeds the transaction, immediately moving the customer payment to the vendor. Second, this speed ripples back through the supply chain and forward to the customer’s satisfaction. Third, it facilitates distribution and logistics, increasing efficiencies down the line. And, fourth, by bypassing credit card processors and other merchant services, blockchain reduces the overhead reflecting the price of service.
Blockchain is Picking Up Velocity
This technology may have the public confused. Most people had never heard of it until Bitcoin started to catch everyone’s attention. Virtual coinage and cryptocurrency are a long way from being ubiquitous terms, but that is changing fast. Epstein notes, “We are living in the ‘age of accelerations,’ as Tom Friedman calls it. In fact, there are studies out now that say millennials would prefer to hold cryptocurrencies over stocks. Granted, some of that is due to the crypto-mania currently taking place, but it is noteworthy.”