A Blockchain Mix: Amazon, Energy, Jewelry and More

Photo by  Lysander Yuen

Photo by Lysander Yuen

Below are observations from last week on commercial uses of blockchain technology, some challenges it faces and new offerings. 

  • The Financial Times article “Energy groups and traders launch new blockchain platform” said “Leading oil companies and traders - BPEquinorRoyal Dutch ShellGunvorMercuria and Koch Supply & Trading - and banks - ABN AmroING and Societe Generale - are part of VAKT, the first blockchain trading platform for physical oil trades

  • "The platform will initially handle trades in the main physical crude oil contracts, and is expected to extend the platform to all physically traded energy related commodities.”

  • The NY Times article “Will Blockchain Be a Boon to the Jewelry Industry?” said, “For jewelers, dealers and collectors alike, some of the biggest challenges are the same — and all too familiar: How can oneguarantee the ethical provenance of a diamond or precious stone? Ensure it is real and not fake?

  • "In January De Beers unveiled Tracr, an initiative that aims to provide a single, tamper-proof and permanent digital record — from mine to consumer — for every diamond.

  • "And in September the Hong Kong giant Chow Tai Fook introduced a similar project developed with the blockchain provider Everledger and secured by the IBM Blockchain Platform.” 

  • The research report “Blockchain for International Development” by John Burg (USAID), Christine Murphy (Social Solutions International, Inc.) and Jean Paul Pétraud (USAID) said, "We found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles.

  • "However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development."

  • Finally, Amazon announced its Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), “a fully managed ledger database that provides a transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable transaction log owned by a central trusted authority"

  • They believe it can execute 2 – 3X as many transactions than ledgers in common blockchain framework

  • Support was also announced for the blockchain-based platforms Hyperledger and Ethereum.


  • Regarding Energy, Jewelry, etc.: For supply chain and trade finance applications, blockchains have the potential to improve process efficiency and data integrity.

  • Regarding International Development projects: Using early stage technology, such as blockchains, is hard. The international development projects may have good intentions.  They likely did not have the appropriate skills or funding to get the project off the ground.

  • Regarding Amazon: As commercial interest increases for blockchain technology, expect more support from other global technology players..   

  • Bottom line: Blockchains are database offerings that will continue to evolve.They are not "one-size-fits-all" solutions

Paul Dravis