The United States of America remains the main economy of the planet, and some of the largest companies are also located there. The editors of DeCenter studied how American firms use distributed ledger technology (DLT), as this may largely determine its future.
As a basis, we took the first 10 positions in the rating of American companies from Fortune 500 based on the annual total revenue. Almost all companies on the list work in the "consumer sector" and managed to register in the DLT sphere, with the exception of the oil company Exxon Mobil and the pharmaceutical producer CVS Health.
Revenue: $500.3 billion
Walmart, a retail and wholesale company with more than 2.3 million employees and nearly 12,000 stores around the world, has been the virtually undisputed leader in the Fortune 500 rating since 2003.
The company began using DLT in 2016 when together with IBM and Beijing’s Tsinghua University, it launched an experiment in China to create a distributed register of data on pork supplies (there are more than 400 Walmart stores in the country). IBM was responsible for the deployment and operation of the network, and it used the results of work obtained while participating in the Hyperledger blockchain project. The register, which was accessible to all participants, contained information about the meat, such as the place of origin, expiration date, storage temperature, information on delivery, and so on.
The project had a clear goal of preventing contaminated food from entering stores, a problem due to which American businesses are losing tens of billions of dollars and their reputations, as consumers suffer from outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
The use of blockchain allowed for reducing the time for tracking the products from weeks to minutes and, if necessary, to withdraw them from circulation. In August 2017, Walmart and nine of its largest suppliers (including Nestle and Unilever) teamed up on a modified platform made by IBM called the Food Trust. Now it is available to all market participants, but the pioneer was Walmart.
The "Chinese project" of Walmart was joined by the giant of Internet trade JD.сom, as together they intend to extend the experience of working with DLT to the entire Chinese market. In addition, the case of Walmart inspired the French company Carrefour, a leader of retail in Europe.
Walmart is not limited by solutions for logistics. In June of this year, the company received two patents at once. One of them concerns the technology of recording patient health data in a decentralized database through a wearable device. Another technology allows users to pay bills for electricity using Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
Revenues: $242.1 billion
While investor Warren Buffett calls cryptocurrencies "rat poison squared," the businesses of his management company Berkshire Hathaway do not stand aside from the new technology.
Among the main assets of Berkshire BNSF is Railway Co, the largest freight railway company in the United States. In February of this year, it announced its adherence to the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), the goal of which is to set new standards for rail freight services using DLT, including optimizing supply chain processes. At the end of May, BiTA was joined by the last major company in the market, which speaks to the importance that is attached to the new technology in this industry.
Another subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the jewelry company Richline Group, together with other players in the industry, launched an experiment to track transactions with several types of diamonds and gold rings. The blockchain platform, as in the case of Walmart, was also provided by IBM. The release of a new service for customers is scheduled for the end of 2018.
Revenues: $229.2 billion
One of the most famous companies in the world is not only extremely profitable but also the most expensive public company in the world, as its capitalization recently reached $1 trillion. In December of last year, the company patented technology for confirming timestamps with the help of a blockchain, so that the data can be tied to transactions in the register. The method of creating labels on a blockchain includes the use of blocks with information on timestamps, to which other blocks will be validated by the miners and those will contain the remaining transactions carried out in this chain. Apple notes that the system will work as part of a more complex architecture, implying several checks at once.
Revenues: $201.1 billion
UnitedHealth Group, the largest private health insurance company in the United States, announced the beginning of a project in the spring of 2018 along with other industry leaders in the development of a blockchain platform which is designed to correct the inaccuracy in the practice of doctors filling out patients' medical records.
Errors lead to a delay or even a refusal to receive insurance payments for medical services, fines for hospitals, and other losses. The decentralized database should correct this situation, as well as reduce the cost of database administration.
Revenues: $198.5 billion
McKesson is a pharmaceutical company, a distributor of medicines, and a pharmacy network operator. Since the spring of this year, it has been taking part in testing a blockchain platform developed by Intel to track the actions taken with drugs from their production to receipt by the end user. The initiative is designed, in particular, to stop the spread of opioid drugs.
In addition, a subsidiary of McKesson, Change Healthcare, joined Hyperledger's initiative to develop blockchain-based solutions for various industries (including medicine), and the company's technical director joined the board of the association.
Revenues: $177.8 billion
The world's largest Internet hosting provider is developing an infrastructure for cloud services on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which, in turn, is actively integrating distributed ledger technology.
In the spring of 2016, AWS announced a partnership with the American VC company Digital Currency Group (DCG), one of the largest investors in blockchain projects. The investment portfolio of DCG included, at that time, more than 70 companies, many of which already used AWS services.
The AWS marketplace is also actively being replenished with blockchain applications. If in March of 2017, the Blockstack Core platform became the third decentralized application on the AWS store, and today there are more than 20.
Another important event was this year's April presentation of the AWS Blockchain Templates product for the rapid creation and deployment of the Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric frameworks.
Jeff Bezos’ company did also win the patent, which can be used in the field of cryptocurrencies. The technology is designed to trade "data channels," the essence of which is to establish links between different datasets. As indicated in the application, the technology can be used in online trading, as it allows users to establish a link between the address of delivery of goods and the address of the Bitcoin wallet from which it was paid, and as a result, form a single user profile. Also according to its authors, the technology may be of interest to tax and law enforcement agencies.
Revenues: $160.5 billion
AT&T is the largest telecommunications company that provides home and mobile services, Internet access, and various types of television (satellite, IPTV, digital, and so on). In 2017, it filed two patents related to blockchain.
The company patented a decentralized application for car computers, which, according to the authors of the application, is able to collect data on the car's performance and carry out micropayments in cryptocurrencies, for example, for a toll road. Moreover, the tariff can change in real time, in accordance with the current state of the road.
Another patent is aimed at developing a blockchain server for managing subscriptions to video content. According to the authors of the application, the use of a set of decentralized nodes in such a server will make the content delivery channel more secure.
Revenues: $157.3 billion
The General Motors (GM) car company relied on the distributed registry when it founded the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) together with other giants, such as BMW, Ford, and Renault, and even technology companies (including Hyperledger, IOTA, and ConsenSys).
The task of the coalition was the development of standards for the use of blockchain in the automotive industry for the unification of payments and data exchange systems between cars. "If every car company is trying to make its payment system or service for sharing cars, it will not work, it's like the Tower of Babel," explained chairman of MOBI Chris Ballinger.
Possible scenarios for the application of the distributed registry include identification of drivers, tracking the location of vehicles, forwarding services, automatic payments, sharing services, and much more.