Hitachi, one of the world’s biggest multinational conglomerate has stated that it will start testing the implementation of blockchain technology in its retail settlement pipeline. According to the announcement, Hitachi will be partnering up with KDDI Corporation, a well-renowned telecommunication operator, for this purpose.
The announcement states that Hitachi will start using the biometric features of its customers before selling any kind of retail payments. Users will be required to put in their biometric signature in the system provided by the organization which will then be encrypted and stored on a blockchain network.
As the blockchain network is based on nodes interacting with each other, Hitachi will provide retail outlets acting as nodes for the blockchain network. Users will be asked to put in their biometric signature to the network for authentication purposes and then the process of transactions can be made to run with full effect. Any information entering or leaving the network must process through a node and hence, the use of retail outlets is inevitable. The blockchain framework also provides an exceptional fabric of security and transparency for users of the system and using biometric signature for access makes it even more secure. The usage of a peer-to-peer network makes this system much more secure as compared to the centrally-controlled systems prone to hacking.
The Japanese conglomerate wrote in the statement that:
…Hitachi’s proprietary technology, which cooperates with PBI [Public Biometrics Infrastructure] and block chains, enables automatic generation of electronic signature with characteristic data of biometric information with low risk of theft and leakage.
The major reason for Hitachi to test out the blockchain technology is its ability to provide a tamper proof system of operation. Since Hitachi is using the open source framework Hyperledger, ability to decentralize and equally distribute the retail information across all the nodes of the system makes the entire process more effective. Information regarding the user will be kept on all the nodes which makes the accessibility of the system by the user extremely simple. As coupon information of the user is distributed across all retail outlets, there is no need for the user to carry their coupons to retail outlets once they enter the system. Without having the need for a smartphone, user can access all its information just through his biometric information, fingerprint in this case. It is stated in the document that:
Since coupon usage information recorded in the blockchain is extremely difficult to tamper with, it is easy to share coupon usage history, securing reliability between KDDI and affiliated stores.
The user can authenticate himself by holding the finger registered on the authentication infrastructure, so it is not necessary to present the coupon at the store, and the coupon can be used even without the smartphone
Hitachi has not been seen eyeing the blockchain technology in the recent past only, as the Japanese conglomerate has been active in this arena for quite a long time. This is clearly evident from Hitachi’s announcement concerning the establishment of a fintech innovation laboratory in the state of California for blockchain developments, back in March 2016. Hitachi’s intentions towards expanding its blockchain domain are clearly evident from this announcement.
FinTech, which combines IT and financial services, is attracting attention internationally as a new trend in society with the recent proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and the rapid development of technologies such as the cloud, big data and artificial intelligence. By establishing the Financial Innovation Laboratory in the Silicon Valley, Hitachi will accelerate research & development of blockchain technology, collaborative creation with customers, and development of solutions to support business innovation in financial institutions.
This is not the first time we are seeing organization considering the deployment of a blockchain-based framework in their pipelines, previously as we have seen industrial sectors like aviation, space exploration, cybersecurity, telecommunication etc., doing so in the past. The endless possibilities of usage that blockchain can have in the industry cannot be denied. Talking about the prospects of employing blockchain technology in industry, the Vice President of Korean Telecom, Seo Young-il stated:
Blockchain will be among the central technologies for digitalization in the ‘fourth industrial revolution.”
The multinational conglomerate also expressed its desire to further collaborate with KDDI in the near future.
KDDI and Hitachi will continue to support the creation of added value by enterprises by establishing and examining new business models to realize new services in various fields.
All in all the possibilities that the blockchain technology offers in terms of security and transparency are endless, and its usage on an industrial scale is further expected to expand in the near future as more and more developments are made, with Hitachi being one of few ones stating the initial implementations.