Blockchain Patent For Global Supply Chain Filed By UPS

Blockchain, News | August 20, 2018 By:

Shipping giant UPS is planning to use blockchain and distributed ledger technology to streamline package delivery logistics across a global supply chain.

In a new patent published by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) last week, the shipping giant details how the company would use blockchain to route packages throughout an international supply chain that includes multiple carriers. The 110-year-old delivery company believes the technology could reduce costs and be more efficient.

“A first blockchain may be configured to store shipment unit shipping/tracking information/data, and a second blockchain may be configured to store value transfer information/data (e.g., via a virtual currency),” the filing said. “Accordingly, various embodiments may comprise and/or utilize digital currency/assets represented by ledger entries. Such digital currency/assets (e.g., bitcoin, ether, and/or the like) may itself have value that may be exchanged for various shipment units, services, and/or the like. Such digital currency/assets thus may be utilized as a currency in various transactions.”

The patent said each block of a blockchain stored in the distributed ledger may comprise shipment unit-identifying information (e.g., shipment unit information/data), and may represent a shipping/tracking event for a corresponding shipment unit.

“For example, each time a shipment unit is scanned within a carrier’s transportation network, each time the shipment unit is transferred from one shipping entity to another shipping entity, and/or the like, the distributed ledger system may be configured to generate a new block providing information/data indicative of the transaction. In certain embodiments, each block may comprise at least a portion of the shipment unit information/data, thereby providing a link back to a prior block representing a transaction involving the same shipment unit information/data.”

The filing aslo note that several digital currencies could be used in connection with smart contracts that are utilized to transfer value along the supply chain.

“Smart contracts may be configured for execution based on various trigger events, information/data parameters, shipment unit or shipment unit conditions (e.g., as reflected by shipment unit and/or associated shipment unit information/data stored within the one or more distributed ledgers), and/or the like,” the patent said. In various embodiments, the smart contracts may be executed by a transfer of value (e.g., reflected in a separate distributed ledger corresponding to a virtual currency, such as bitcoin, ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Dogecoin, and/or the like), by initiating a particular action (e.g., executable entirely within the distributed ledger and/or at least partially executable outside of the distributed ledger, for example, by initiating a transfer of currency through traditional banking institutions), and/or the like.”

As one of the world’s largest customs brokers, it is unsurprising that UPS is looking at different ways to enhance its shipping process. In 2017, UPS shipped 5.1 billion packages and documents in more than 220 countries and territories, earning $54 billion in revenue.