Blockchain technologies in international trade geographies

Authors: H Richard Nakamura*, Centre for International Business Studies, University of Gothenburg, Robert Wentrup, Centre for International Business Studies, University of Gothenburg, Ramsin Yakob, Centre for International Business Studies, University of Gothenburg
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Blockchain technology, International trade settlements
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The very foundations of blockchain technology, or more broadly described as decentralized ledger technology, is not a recently developed phenomenon. In 1991, the technology was described initially as a means to secure the authenticity of time-stamped digital documents. But in an increasingly complex global context the technology has today a completely new arena than in the early 90s. The current popular discourse concerning blockchain technology is to a large extent focused on cryptocurrency, which creates a tendentious discussion that covers only a part of the applicability of the technology. However, the technology has found wider applications. In the management of international supply chains, we find that blockchains could be used in tracking and managing supply chains and deliveries in, e.g., in the shipping industry, which would allow encrypted data on all facets of international transactions to be securely shared among banks, shippers and traders. Moreover, in international trade settlements, the blockchain technology has found its ways into practical use by enabling smart contracts, a technology that Ethereum is promoting. The aim of our paper is to study how blockchain technology is applied in the international trade and supply chain management. By using case study methodology focusing on a set of international business firms using, or aiming to use the technology for their operations, we discuss how blockchain technology could alter contemporary international trade geographies by assessing to what degree blockchain technology could be useful in international trade as opposed to traditional applications relying on central, corporate controlled, data management systems.

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