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IBM and Maersk Group Show Us Blockchain Isn’t a Bulletproof Mobile Payments Technology

November 1, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

As many success stories as the blockchain concept has had so far, both as a mobile payments technology and other alternatives, it’s easy to forget that this technology doesn’t always work according to plan. The LTO Network recently dropped word our way about one such case, a recent co-production between IBM and Maersk Group. The end results was failure, and LTO Network’s CEO examined some of the core issues behind that failure.

While the partnership effort didn’t have much problems, the report noted, the problem came when IBM and Maersk Group tried to get firms interested in putting the produce of that partnership to work. The original goal of the project was to set up a system that allowed competitors to interact, but without needing to involve third parties in the process. Anyone who’s ever had to involve a third party in anything knows how unreliable that can be.

So, on the surface, IBM and Maersk Group’s solution should have drawn interest like gangbusters. It was the execution, however, that cost IBM and Maersk Group interest; the duo set up the solution so that they were in control of it. Not out of line given that it was their solution and all, but by setting it up this way, they forced the companies using it to effectively have to trust a third party: IBM and Maersk Group. Worse yet, many of the companies that would have been in the market for a solution like this were actually competitors of Maersk Group.

The only way around an issue like this, the LTO Network posits, is by using a system that’s both private and permissionless. That opens up trust by not consolidating control, but it’s also somewhat difficult to execute, particularly at the level of blockchain evolution we’re at right now. That’s not to say this will always be the case, but opening up blockchain to more avenues should help with this in the future.

It’s easy to forget, even as bitcoin celebrates its 10th anniversary, that blockchain and cryptocurrency are still young technologies. There’s plenty of room for development here, and at the pace that’s come on, we may well see solutions like IBM and Maersk Group’s that actually work.