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The UK could take a £57bn share of a £1.3tn boost to the global economy by the end of this decade as a result of blockchain-based technologies being adopted at scale from 2025, according to analysis by PwC of the technology’s potential in sectors such as healthcare, government, manufacturing, finance, logistics and retail.
Best known in the financial services sector for its role in enabling bitcoin to become a reality, the distributed ledger technology has been identified as an efficient and effective means of tracking and tracing goods and services, which PwC said could be worth £30bn to the UK economy over this decade.
For example, the air industry’s continued investigation into how blockchain can improve efficiency has unearthed more than £300m of potential savings by using the technology to track and record cargo as it changes hands on its journey from producer to customer.
Steve Davies, global blockchain leader at PwC, said: “Blockchain has long been associated with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, but it has much more to offer, particularly in how public and private organisations secure, share and use data.”
For example, it can track and trace the chain of custody between different parts of a supply chain, and because everyone in the supply chain can view and trust the transactions posted, blockchain can reduce the time required for reconciliation and enable faster processes.
Davies said blockchain technologies will play a role in the post-coronavirus recovery. “As organisations grapple with the impact of Covid-19, we have seen an acceleration in many disruptive trends,” he said. “Our analysis shows the potential for blockchain to support UK organisations in how they rebuild and reconfigure their operations, underpinned by improvements in trust, transparency and efficiency.”
Beyond bringing £30bn in potential value to the UK economy over the next decade due to its use in track and trace, PwC predicts further benefits of blockchain in other applications.
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For example, PwC said £13bn in value could be created by 2030 in payments and financial services, including digital currencies, or supporting financial inclusion through cross-border and remittance payments.
“Blockchain’s success will depend on a supportive policy environment, a business ecosystem that is ready to exploit the new opportunities that the technology opens up, and adoption across industry sectors,” it said.
PwC said the UK’s public administration, education and healthcare sectors could create benefits worth £22bn by 2030 because of the efficiencies blockchain brings to identity and credentials management.
Davies added that responsibility for blockchain must be given to senior executives if the technology is to reach its potential. “One of the biggest mistakes organisations can make with implementing emerging technologies is to leave it in the realm of the enthusiast in the team,” he said. “It needs C-suite support to identify the strategic opportunity and value, and to facilitate the right level of collaboration within an industry.”
Businesses must establish proofs of concept that can be scaled up if successful, he added.