Mahindra Group, one of India's largest diversified multinational group of companies and IBM, the global technology and innovation company headquartered in Armonk, NY have recently entered into a partnership to develop blockchain-based supply chain applications.

The project, a first of its kind in India outside of the traditional banking domain, aims to step up transparency and security between supplier-to-manufacturer trade through a permissioned distributed ledger.

The partnership will see both the firms working together on a prototype tool for tracking supply chain transactions via blockchain. The tool will enable all parties involved in the transaction to act on the same shared ledger, with each party updating only their part of the process, ensuring trust, transparency, efficiency and consistency, hence safeguarding the sensitive information in the process.

A USD 17.8 billion multinational group based in Mumbai, India, Mahindra has operations in industries ranging from aerospace to automotives, as well as agriculture, finance and technology, and provides employment opportunities to over 200,000 people in over 100 countries.

It is important to note that the partnership comes at a time when India’s business and finance sectors are aggressively exploring the Blockchain technology. The year began with India's central bank RBI’s research arm, the Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) giving a green light to blockchain and publishing a report stating that it has successfully tested the blockchain technology for core banking processes in the country in a pilot and considers that now the right time for the technology’s wide adoption in India. IDRBT's report was followed by the news that some of India’s largest banks have come together to build Bank-Chain -- a consortium aimed at testing an inter-bank blockchain platform. Other firms, including IT consultancy Tata, have pursued various proofs-of-concept, while startups working in the bitcoin space have continued to develop products.

Blockchain is a slowly emerging but promising technology that allows for transactions and data transfers to be completed in just a matter of a fee seconds through a peer-to-peer computer network, with no dependence on a third party. The tech is being considered as a potential game changer for the banking industry, a sector that the conglomerate's IT services arm, Tech Mahindra Ltd has its eyes set on.

While according to experts, Mahindra is just setting out to test the waters with the supply chain prototype, but Mahindra says it is currently also looking at other applications across its various business lines, including transportation and agricultural technology.

“The Mahindra Group is pioneering the use of blockchain to disrupt its traditional businesses and drive future growth. We are actively looking at other applications across the Group in financial services, auto, mobility and agritech,” said Anish Shah, Group President (Strategy), Mahindra Group in a statement.

He also added, “This proof of concept represents a significant step forward in making blockchain, still a new technology, a more compelling and efficient supply chain solution for Mahindra Finance’s small and mid-sized enterprises loans business.”

On the other hand, IBM is also on the path to rapidly expand its blockchain consulting services and capabilities. It is actively working with clients in order to get a better understanding of what it takes to actually make Blockchain ready for business. IBM's valued open source contributions to the Hyperledger Fabric and its blockchain services on IBM Bluemix cloud has made it easier and quicker for developers to develop applications while testing availability, performance, and security of a permissioned blockchain network.

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