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7 November 2016

IBM looks to blockchain to cut supply chain disputes

Content team

IBM is turning to blockchain as it looks for new ways to improve dispute resolution across supply chains.

The computing giant is embracing the technology and has spent the past two years testing the concept of using blockchain to help businesses to carry out transactions and settle and resolve disputes much quicker than in the past.

Jerry Cuomo, vice-president of blockchain technologies at IBM, explained he saw the potential of blockchain, even though the technology came to the fore through bitcoin, an anonymised currency that was of little use to many of IBM's biggest clients.

"I saw value in supply chains, healthcare, health record maintenance and in financial services, security and settlement," he was quoted by Forbes as saying.

The technology means the three parties involved in a supply chain transaction - IBM, the buyer of its products or services and the shipping company - can resolve disputes much more quickly by using a distributed ledger, which shows the complete lifespan of a transaction. Having access to this information makes it easy to track back through a transaction to the last point where all parties were in agreement, and work out where the issue arose. This has simplified a process that previously involved numerous phone calls and emails, IBM says.

Previously, payments totalling $100 million (£80 million) were delayed for up to 40 days if a dispute arose in transactions between IBM's corporate treasury and another firm which relies on IBM Global Finance - which initially suggested trying blockchain for dispute resolution. After testing, IBM now estimates it has reduced this figure to ten days.
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Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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