Blockchain in Global Supply Chains: What’s In Store?

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Blue Blockchain

As blockchain becomes more widely known and accepted throughout the supply chain industry, shippers and customers are beginning to test out applications of the technology in its beginning stages of development, particularly within the global realm. Many believe blockchain will offer greater efficiency than ever before by eliminating an entire layer of complexity. From conducting payment and audits to tracking inventory and assets, the possibilities in applying blockchain to the global supply chain industry seem unlimited.1

So, what is exactly is blockchain? Blockchain is a technology that enables digital information to be distributed, but not copied, for a more secure, incorruptible digital ledger. This robust technology can be programmed not just to track and protect the integrity of financial transactions, but anything that holds value – including any type of good that moves through a supply chain, helping to guarantee the validity of a transaction through impenetrable digital record-keeping.2 Because the data is embedded within a network as a whole, every single step is available to those participating within the transaction and users can access and add data, but cannot alter or delete existing.3

The Future of Blockchain

Blockchain is still in its infancy today and is still gaining momentum as the benefits and logistics are explored; therefore, it is not currently the right tool for every company.4 It can provide value for larger companies with a global footprint, since there are many moving pieces within international supply chains. Blockchain can offer shared control, as well as help more efficiently track and regulate transactions that span carriers, manufacturers, ports, suppliers, financial institutions, government regulators, and customs.5

Trials and Testing

Recently, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced that they had completed a global trade experiment, shipping nuts overseas to Germany that were tracked via blockchain and claimed the experiment to be not only successful, but “agile, efficient, and transparent.” CBA said partners were able to view and track the location of the shipment, as well as view the conditions such as temperature and humidity inside the container. The blockchain-enabled supply chain streamlined the process, allowing partners to upload and access the documents such as bill of lading, certificates of origins, and other documents required by customs.6

NFI and Blockchain

Blockchain holds great potential for the supply chain industry, as many shippers look to leverage innovations to strengthen their overall supply chain, as well as increase their bottom line.7 It’s important to partner with progressive 3PL that can work cohesively with their customers to navigate new technologies for further innovation, transparency, and efficiency, particularly while such technologies are in their infancy and still being explored.

“NFI’s technology teams are keeping a close eye on the emerging blockchain advancements as they relate to the transportation/logistics/warehousing industry,” said Gerard Darby, SVP and CIO of NFI. “We are participating members of the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance (BiTA), and are poising ourselves to leverage the technology when the appropriate use case presents itself. We are optimistic that the technology will mature in the coming years to be a meaningful component of our solution landscape; but at the same time are being cautious to not over-invest prematurely.”



  1. http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/a-blockchain-reality-check/
  2. http://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/20171201-no-sir-you-wont-be-getting-any-blockchain/
  3. https://www.finance-monthly.com/2017/11/3-ways-blockchain-benefits-your-supply-chain/
  4. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/operations/articles/blockchain-supply-chain-innovation.html
  5. http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/a-blockchain-reality-check/
  6. https://www.zdnet.com/article/commonwealth-bank-tracing-almond-supply-chain-via-blockchain/
  7. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/operations/articles/blockchain-supply-chain-innovation.html