A team of Dutch supply chain firms and industry players has launched a $2.3 million push to apply blockchain technology to the country's logistics sector and use the popular computer security protocol to ease the flow of data between trading partners.
First announced Nov. 8, the project will be led by the public-private technology incubator TKI Dinalog and its partners, the national research organizations TNO and NWO. Together, they will work with a consortium of 16 partner companies to develop the contours of a new information infrastructure based on blockchain technology, uniting operational information, financial flows, and contracts.
Most famously used as the underpinnings of the global, virtual financial currency Bitcoin, the technology has been finding new applications in recent years, particularly in the financial sector.
The announcement echoes recent U.S. initiatives to apply blockchain security to logistics data, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s announcement in October 2016 that it would partner with IBM Corp. to use the technology to improve its track and trace capabilities on food shipments in China.
Blockchain technology could be an important addition to IT practices in logistics because it creates a secure, digital record of transactions that preserves the chain of custody as goods or data flow through the supply chain. Also known as "distributed ledger" technology, it records an immutable software record of everyone who has touched or read an item as it moves between partners.
The Dutch group says its effort is unique because it unites various partners in the logistics chain in adopting blockchain together. Additional major support will come from a complementary effort, the public-private initiative to establish a national research institute for blockchain, previously initiated by the Netherlands' Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The new effort will feature input from a wide range of Dutch supply chain firms, banks, and colleges, including the Delft University of Technology, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam-based bank ABN AMRO, the International Supply Chain Finance (SCF) Community, the Port of Rotterdam, and the national florists conglomerate Royal FloraHolland. Corporate partners also include: mining firm FBBasic, tech firms Cirmar, BeScope Solutions, and TransFollow, and financial services firms NBK and Innopay.