Starting next September, some logistics companies in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia will begin outfitting shipping containers with a soda-can-size device that will beam out the cargo’s location, how much it’s vibrating as it travels, and its ambient temperature. The data will flow into a repository in the cloud so the entire supply chain can be informed if a shipment’s been delayed. That will prevent redundant e-mails and phone calls. “There are massive problems communicating between companies,” says Mika Lammi, who’s overseeing the project from his perch at Kouvola Innovation, a business development agency in southern Finland. “Instead of having separate databases, why not have a single blockchain where everyone can pool information?”
Blockchain is the technology created to support bitcoin, but it may soon surpass the crypto-currency in importance. In the first quarter of 2016, venture capital investment in startups commercializing blockchain eclipsed that in pure-play bitcoin companies for the first time, according to industry researcher CoinDesk, which has tallied $1.1 billion in deals to date.
The simplest way to understand blockchain is to see it as the evolution of the ledger, a record-keeping tool that’s been central to commerce since ancient times. Ledgers track the movement of assets, whether they’re parcels of land