IBM has received more patents than any other company for the past 24 years. First it was cloud computing, then artificial intelligence. Now, the software giant wants to stay on top for a 25th year with blockchain.
“What the internet did for communications,” said Rometty, “I think blockchain will do for trusted transactions.”
She said there are countless examples of where a secure, shared ledger can save businesses time and money. In shipping, blockchain replace mountains of paperwork. “On a cargo ship, the paperwork costs more than just even the goods inside of it,” said Rometty.
IBM has been working with retailers like Walmart and Maersk to track everything from food safety, to pork production in China, and even mango shipments.
Instead of every single party — manufacturer, shipper, buyer and any other intermediary — all relying on their individual paperwork to track a a shipment from beginning to end, the blockchain would allow all stakeholders to see every step in an open, secure ledger. It’s the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
IBM’s blockchain patents could even help fish out fake Yelp reviews.
For example, the company was awarded a patent last month for “consensus-based reputation tracking in online marketplaces.” The system would allow two verified users to endorse one another after a digital transaction, and block anyone else. Think of it like rating your Uber driver, but without any offline interaction.
The only way for decentralized technology like blockchain to take off is for a multitude of companies to adopt it, so IBM is open-sourcing many of its blockchain advancements, according to Rometty.
“Greatness isn’t having a technology,” said Rometty. “But the know how to do something with it.”