With interest growing in the use of blockchain in the supply chain, creating secure digital ledgers that can be shared among partners to track cargo, shipments and parcels, FedEx has been very active in moving the technology forward.
Among other things, the company has blockchain startups joining its FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, and chairman and CEO Fred Smith called it “the next frontier that’s going to completely change worldwide supply chains” at a conference this spring.
Dale Chrystie, FedEx Freight’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Support, is also a member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) standards council as well as its board of directors. He recently spoke with Multichannel Merchant about the company’s involvement with blockchain initiatives.
MCM: What areas of blockchain are being tested by FedEx, i.e. palletized freight and dispute resolution? What are the next steps?
Dale Chrystie: The disputes we are working on are essentially companies speaking different data languages, and we are trying to get to a common language, which we think could resolve many of the issues. Next steps are to continue to test the technology along with other companies.
MCM: Anything to add to Fred Smith’s comments that companies’ failure to institute blockchain could mean “extinction”?
Chrystie: Innovation is in our DNA at FedEx. We have been on the leading edge since we were founded, and we believe this technology will be transformative.
MCM: Why does FedEx see blockchain as being a disruptive force in the supply chain?
Chrystie: We believe that this technology itself will be a differentiator, and early use cases as well as the establishment of standards are essential steps to get started.
MCM: How is FedEx working with the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) and BiTA?
Chrystie: Neither FedEx – nor any single company – can do this alone. Blockchain is a team sport, where we will all have to agree on the rules and the standards. BRI and BiTA are key partnerships that drive the standards discussion forward much more quickly.
MCM: What can you say about efforts to create industry-wide blockchain standards?
Chrystie: That is the entire focus of BiTA. We can’t get to the value of the technology until we can agree on rules and standards, and BiTA is leading in this space. As a founding member of BiTA and a member of the BiTA standards board, FedEx is proud to be working with the other members of the standards board to establish a common language in data elements, interoperability and financial compliance, just to name a few of the early efforts.