Place your bets on blockchain

Brand loyalty is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, as the digital abode gives way to a plethora of options at customers’ fingertips. Customers seek brand validation through peer-to-peer product reviews, prior to making a purchase. And interestingly, often it isn’t the best quality product that wins, it’s the best known. However, at the heart of consumer choice is trust.

In recent years, there has been an ­emerging technology that plays towards this priceless capital of trust, which has the potential to transform customer experience – blockchain.

Revitalising customer experience

Despite the immaturity of the technology, there are emerging opportunities for blockchain in utilities customer experience. Firstly, there is the potential of peer-to-peer energy trading. With the increasing uptake of renewable energy generation, customers have become ­prosumers, producing and consuming power, selling any surplus energy back to the grid as a means of income generation, thus increasing competition and grid efficiency. With the introduction of blockchain, the monopoly will no longer remain in the power of the grid, but rather with the customers. Customers will be able to buy locally produced energy, which is likely to be cheaper than ­buying from their utility provider. This is made ­possible through blockchain’s relatively low transaction costs. Smart contracts facilitate the real-time co-ordination of production data from energy sources and administer sales contracts that enable a two-way energy exchange.

Another opportunity blockchain is opening up for customers is the ability to switch suppliers more efficiently. Companies are already running pilots to explore blockchain’s potential to make existing processes, such as meter registration, more efficient and less costly. British start-up Electron is developing a blockchain platform that could allow British customers to switch power suppliers reliably within a day. This may eventually give…

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