By Landon Manning
The U.S. technology and shipping colossus Amazon (AMZN) has made a significant step toward integrating blockchain technology into its networks, securing a patented method for using it to track packages.
The company filed for the patent on May 26, 2020, and it could impact many distinct subsectors of the firm’s vast international supply chain. The text of the patent describes the “verifiable tracking of an item through a supply chain using a distributed electronic ledger.” In it, the company details a method for setting up a catalog system to easily compile a large amount of data about individual products at multiple locations in each item’s history, from production and transportation to consumption.
The patent specifically mentions Hyperledger as a likely candidate to furnish the technology for this integration, and, indeed, Hyperledger has already been conducting experiments with this sort of tracking on a much smaller scale, typically involving food production. Essentially, the idea is that products are tagged onto this system at the earliest stages of their life cycles, then every product is tracked thoroughly so that consumers can read through this history in an easily-accessed format before making a purchasing decision.
Claiming that this move will help fight off a wave of subpar or counterfeit products that find their way into Amazon’s massive product catalogs, the patent states that “Trust is earned. Once trust is lost, it can often be difficult to regain.” The professed goal of this system is to allow a greater degree of transparency in a system that is completely inundated with products, often of varying quality.
This is not the only blockchain initiative that Amazon has been investigating in the last several weeks, however. Earlier in May, the corporation co-authored a report to the United States Department of Defense, alongside other tech and blockchain giants like IBM, Deloitte and ConsenSys.
Claiming that the United States government must continue developing its blockchain infrastructure at a number of levels in its economic and military institutions to maintain cybersecurity demands, the report advocated for a number of sweeping new government contracts to keep the United States from falling behind in a digital “arms race” with China and Russia.
Considering that these private companies paid for the study, it’s possible that this threat has been overstated. Still, this shows that Amazon is not the only one considering a larger pivot to blockchain technology.
The largest internet company by revenue in the world, Amazon is capable of putting the proof-of-concept of a blockchain tracking system into practice on a large scale. In other words, the types of tracking technologies that have been a passing oddity for those already connected to the world of blockchain technology could become a significant feature of life for millions of customers worldwide. With a resolute commitment to developing blockchain resources, Amazon could thrust the state of the entire industry forward dramatically.
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