The role of blockchain during the Covid-19 pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted many aspects of our daily lives, as in a couple of months, it has not only transformed into a worldwide pandemic but has also challenged a multitude of traditional ways of working and doing business. As a result, global industries are shut down, the worldwide economy is experiencing a recession and while governments struggle to address these issues, blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies seem to be playing an important role in dealing with global healthcare and food supply chains.


The global coronavirus breakdown period has exposed a significant lack of data exchange and connectivity in our global supply chains, meaning that there is an absolute need for major technological advances and interoperable, transparent networks.

Blockchain technology has gained in popularity over the last couple of years with its revolutionary new ways to exchange and transform information and value. However, the traditional financial industry helped by government regulations was skeptical to embrace it, mainly because of its association with the digital currency.

Nevertheless, when this global crisis we currently face suddenly arrived, all our activities moved at home, time became extremely valuable in order to save lives and there was an absolute need to deploy resources in real time where they were most required. Therefore, blockchain solutions that were already underway not precisely at a fast pace, have been repurposed to address the impact of COVID-19 directly. The main reason for this change in mentality is that during these uncertain times, a trusted platform is necessary, which has the ability to share accurate data, automates traditional ways of working and most importantly is a single reference point by enabling fast-tracking drug trials, medical supplies and impact management of treatment – as well as prepare for the long recovery ahead.


The novel coronavirus pandemic has highlighted important gaps and disruptions in worldwide supply chains.

Many companies and plants shut down during this period while the global demand for different type of goods, in particular medical supplies increased considerably. Due to this demand, people source their supplies without being able to assess the quality or origin. Therefore, the main obvious use case for blockchain technology is to improve these supply chains as it has the power to connect all the stakeholders in order to share real-time data in an effort to increase end-to-end visibility within and across countries. It is hence extremely important to reboot and rebuild the global trade network through blockchain platforms. According to the World Economic Forum, blockchain fulfills a crucial role as we are rebuilding the global trade network.

In collaboration with Accelliance, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE (C4IR UAE) conducted research revealing the success factors and challenges in broader blockchain management. According to the research from the Centre, more than 100 blockchain stakeholders from more than 60 private and public entities in the UAE agreed on the fact that in order to ensure a flexible and transparent supply chain there is an urgent need for clear regulatory implications, total buy-in from all stakeholders and educational awareness. As a result, the World Economic Forum working with its international blockchain community created a toolkit with a supply chain focus, called “Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Deployment Toolkit.

Its purpose is to guide organizations and individuals through the development and implementation of blockchain solutions by offering resources, tools and know- how to different entities willing to launch projects related to blockchain technology. “The aim of the toolkit is to support decision makers in effectively deploying blockchain technology in their respective entities” stated Nadia Hewett, project lead for Blockchain and Digital Currency at the World Economic Forum.

When it comes to efficient treatment for saving lives, the supply chain plays without a doubt a crucial role where interoperable and inclusive blockchain networks are needed to strengthen the medical supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“With over four trillion consumer products made and shipped around the world each year, we cannot afford to continue operating in the dark when it comes tokeeping track of these products, especially when some of these products could save lives" Mariam Obaid Al Muhairi, Project Manager at the Dubai Future Foundation, wrote in the C4IR UAE whitepaper “Inclusive Deployment of Blockchain: Case Studies and Learnings from the United Arab Emirates”

As the modern supply chain proved to be fragile, entities and individuals around the world are expected to participate in new blockchain-enables solutions which will push and speed suppliers and buyers around the world to share consistentdata within a supply network considered to be a single source of truth.


Among the wide range of industries that has been impacted by the current pandemic, the digital asset space has not been an exception.

Cryptocurrencies are not dependent on any political and/or global superpower and are defined by their verifiable and fixed supply. For that reason the cryptocurrency market was thought initially to be unaffected by the changes caused by the COVID-19, as it was expected to behave in a countercyclical manner to equity markets and thus be resistant to some of the market constraints thatcause volatility in investment securities.

However, recent studies have shown that digital assets’ prices had the same tendency with overall stock market volatility throughout the coronavirus outbreak. In the beginning of the pandemic, investors were reallocating their portfolios in order to stable coins like USDC and move away from volatile. cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Bitcoin. As a result, it is therefore important for companies with infrastructures prepared for blockchain technology to take into consideration newer digital assets and thus adapt their platforms in order forthem to support the growth and expansion of these new technologies.


As the world is still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, various institutions and governments are joining the battle to weaken the spread of the COVID-19 while working together to find a vaccine.

The blockchain technology has been, and it is still a powerful weapon in this ongoing battle against coronavirus. There is no doubt that digital solutions and smart technologies are completely changing the business and health system’s environment. During these difficult times we live, blockchain is developing into an effective and secured network for safe data sharing in diverse applications such asoperations management, food, healthcare or financial industries. It has the means to authenticate information, cross-boarder payments and improve/restore the supply chains in an effort to increase end-to-end visibility among stakeholders.


Andreea Schipor

Business Consultant at AION Consulting

 

Credits


https://www.forbes.com/sites/biserdimitrov/2020/04/09/why-fighting-covid-19- needs-more-than-blockchain-to-succeed/ https://www.supplychainbrain.com https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/why-covid-19-makes-a-compelling- case-for-wider-integration-of-blockchain/ https://thedatascientist.com/covid-19-cryptocurrencies-invest/ https://economictimes.indiatimes.com https://readwrite.com/2020/04/24/impact-of-covid-19-in-the-crypto-market/ https://www.calcalistech.com https://www.ibm.com/blogs/blockchain/2020/04/blockchains-role-in-covid-19- response-and-recovery/ https://www.ledgerinsights.com/world-economic-forum-how-blockchain-could- help-with-covid-19-supply-chain-disruption/

https://www.eisneramper.com/blockchain-covid-19-tl-blog-0520/ https://www.enterpriseai.news/2020/05/07/blockchain-streamlining-disrupted- supply-chains-during-covid-crisis/ https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/technology/digital-world/blockchain- technology-and-covid-19/

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