Samsung Jumps on Blockchain Bandwagon to Manage Its Supply Chain

The world’s biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors may use the technology behind cryptocurrencies to manage its vast global supply network.

Samsung Electronics Co. is considering a blockchain ledger system to keep track of global shipments worth tens of billion of dollars a year, according to Song Kwang-woo, the blockchain chief at Samsung SDS Co., the group’s logistical and information and technology arm. The system could cut shipping costs by 20 percent, according to SDS.

While companies around the world have said they’re planning to deploy blockchain technology on everything from cross-border payments to tracking the life-cycle of supermarket chickens, Samsung Group is one of the first global manufacturers to take a serious look at using the distributed ledgers in its operations. SDS is working on the system for Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate’s crown jewel.

“It will have an enormous impact on the supply chains of manufacturing industries,” said Song, who’s also a vice president at SDS. “Blockchain is a core platform to fuel our digital transformation.”

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Thrust into the spotlight by bitcoin’s meteoric rise, blockchain technology has been touted as a breakthrough that will transform the way transactions are recorded, verified and shared. While its impact on the corporate world has been limited so far, Gartner Inc. predicts blockchain-related businesses will create $176 billion of value by 2025.

Blockchain proponents in the shipping industry say the technology reduces the time needed to send paperwork back and forth and to coordinate with port authorities. Documentation costs for container shipments are more than twice as big as those for transportation, according to International Business Machines Corp., which is working with A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S to track cargo movements and automate shipping paperwork.