IBM, Walmart using blockchain to keep food fresh

Goldman Sachs, in a report published Monday, said it expects cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to become worthless. However, IBM (NYSE:IBM) is making big bets on blockchain—the technology behind virtual currencies.

Bridget van Kralingen, IBM Global Industries senior vice president, told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.”, the business model implications of blockchain are “huge.”

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“The technology behind bitcoin basically is a shared ledger with multiple parties in an exchange [and] have an immutable record which is able to change over time with a contract,” she said. “It can be seen instantly and because it’s immutable it can be trusted between many parties and also permission so that people can see only what you want them to see.”

IBM formed a joint venture with Maersk, the world’s biggest container operator, in January in hopes of accelerating trade, van Kralingen said.

“The global shipping supply chain—90% of the goods we use come from that. It is $8 trillion a year,” she said. “Fifteen percent of those costs are paperwork that go between individual parties, which if put on blockchain can essentially be eliminated.”

IBM has also partnered with Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and a group of consumer companies to explore how to apply the technology to food safety.

“It takes a week to recall a food product,” van Kralingen said. “They can get a recall and track the food in two seconds.”

While van Kralingen tiptoed around disclosing just how much the company is pumping into blockchain, she noted it’s a “major thesis for investment” within its $6 billion a year spent on research.