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Blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is widely seen as an emerging space in 2018 and beyond. Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, despite its astonishing growth is viewed by many as unstable and the potential leading edge of an economic bubble that could burst at any time.

Some more moderate voices are placing their bets on blockchain technology and companies, especially established corporations that stand to take advantage of this new technology and use it in unique ways not necessarily tied directly to currency.

Related: 4 SECTORS TO WATCH IN 2018

Enter IBM

Some analysts and experts see the entry of Dow component International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBMC) into the blockchain space as a force that could life IBM stock to new all-time highs. Information technology pros have already ceded IBM’s place as the leader in the blockchain industry even while traders have been throwing their capital at micro caps.

As a result, Big Blue gained less than 6% in Q4 2017, despite its success. The picture may change in 2018, some analysts believe and offer, as proof, the fact the company’s shares have hit a 9-month high surpassing the prior quarter’s performance in two weeks.

Supply Chain Management

One of IBM’s entry points to the use of blockchain may be in supply chain management and compliance verticals according to Christoph Auer-Welsbach, partner at IBM Ventures. This requires some very specific conditions to be met. The investments need to occur between 18 months and 5 years after the target company’s maturity. Auer-Welsbach also says investments by IBM Ventures are limited to companies providing business-to-business products.

This is one reason IBM has steered away from cryptocurrency-related companies. Those companies don’t fit well with IBM’s desire to enter a B2B arena, an area IBM sees as the only way for IBM to add value.

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The Maersk Connection

To that end, IBM and Danish transport and logistics company Maersk announced recently they planned to team up to create a blockchain-based shipping and supply chain company. The goal is to commercialize blockchain for all parts of the global supply chain system from shipping to ports to banks and customs offices.

The technology behind blockchain is uniquely able to provide control for the logistics industry. It can replace tedious and insecure paperwork with secure digital records that are also totally transparent. The plan is to be able to offer software solutions by Q3 2018.

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