Blockchain – booming in retail, but wait a minute!

Image credit: Therina Groenewald /

Blockchain seems to be the ultimate solution that can solve almost any problem. We recently commented on the initiative from Turkcell where blockchain is transforming digital identity management, along with the customer experience. Digital identity is a massive focus for many stakeholders at the moment, as reported by John Tanner.

Now, according to Juniper Research, blockchain is set to grow at 139% annually in the retail sector and will massively improve asset management and tracking. According to Juniper, retail is set to adopt blockchain faster than other sectors because of its versatility and will quickly lead to transparency in the supply chain, improvements in customer loyalty management and operational efficiencies.

The forecast is that 15,000 retailers will be using blockchain by 2023 with annual revenues reaching $4.5 billion.

Land Registry is another arena that makes perfect sense for the distributed ledger approach and already the UK and Sweden are in trials to convert their land registries to the technology.

There are many use cases for blockchain in almost every industry but what is not discussed sufficiently is whether there are any flaws. The ‘conventional wisdom’ is that it is water tight and infallible and is fast becoming the answer to any problem.

The sobering truth about blockchain is that, while it may be a very useful and effective technology, it is nevertheless a technology. While each block may be difficult to breach, it is actually true that blockchains are vulnerable if not implemented with care. They are, let’s face, connected, and anything that is connected is vulnerable. This is particularly true as cyber attacks are escalating in sophistication and getting a lot of funding. The creation of records themselves can, we have heard, be spoofed.

This does not mean that distributed ledger technology should be ignored but it does mean that before we entrust all our secrets to it we need to be much surer than we are now that it is secure, very secure. We are finding out more about its vulnerabilities.

We don’t doubt that this is going to prove a great boon for many industries but let us not rush headlong into this ‘infallible’ technology.

Because it isn’t.

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