Since its creation, blockchain has faced an uphill battle in terms of finding widespread adoption. Skeptics have any number of qualms with the technology, but one of the most popular is over its use cases. What tangible benefit does blockchain offer people? IBM (NYSE:IBM) and AP Moller – Maersk (OTCMKTS:AMKBY) sought to answer this question five years ago. But as the pair wind down their TradeLens project, the blockchain faithful have yet another setback to overcome if they want to see mainstream adoption.
Much of the blockchain industry today is full of products that carry little practicality. The technology is almost entirely used for the purposes of swapping cryptocurrency, minting non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and media platforms which still pale in comparison to their non-blockchain competitors. This minimal ecosystem has been satisfactory to the legions of crypto investors who use them. However, it leaves much to be desired among doubters. Is the technology really worth our time if this is all it’s good for?
Freight transportation giant Maersk and tech company IBM teamed up to prove the power of blockchain for the real world. Five years ago, the two announced a collaborative effort called TradeLens. The project sought to bridge blockchain with the supply chain, allowing for goods to be tracked more accurately and easily from departure to destination by logging data on a permanent, easily accessible digital ledger.
TradeLens promised to fundamentally change the way goods are shipped around the world. In doing so, it sought to bridge countless businesses involved in the shipping process, from shippers to ocean carriers to customs brokers and governments themselves. However, getting all of these moving parts operating in tandem has proven quite difficult. Now, that’s causing the two companies to wind down TradeLens entirely.
IBM and Maersk Ditch TradeLens
When IBM and Maersk set out on TradeLens, the crypto market wasn’t nearly as large as it is now. As such, blockchain technology was even more niche and unknown to the general public. Now, five years on, the product is on its way out, setting back widespread blockchain adoption yet again.
A statement from Maersk Head of Business Platforms Rotem Hershko earlier this week confirmed the end of TradeLens. Hershko says that, starting today and through early 2023, the companies will be winding down support for the blockchain effort. In explaining the reason for this decision, Hershko blamed a lack of cooperation among partners:
“While we successfully developed a viable platform, the need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved […] TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work and meet the financial expectations as an independent business.”
For years now, critics have slammed blockchain for lacking viable use cases. And while the TradeLens project has received praise from these same critics as a step in the right direction for widespread adoption, the death of the service is yet another roadblock keeping big businesses from making the switch to permanent, containerized digital ledgers. Moreover, the move highlights challenges mounting for even the most successful blockchain projects in getting clients to collaborate on the integration of blockchain technology.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.