Cryptocurrencies are the future of payments. It is as clear as crystal to anyone involved with the blockchain world. The benefits for global e-commerce are obvious, as sellers no longer have to support a myriad of payment methods from different countries, nor do they have to pay hefty commissions for various middlemen like payment processors, credit card companies and fraud analysts.
However, payment is not the only important part of the e-commerce flow. Eventually, you also have to physically deliver the product to the buyer. And it better be quick, efficient and inexpensive. Several new blockchain startups aim to disrupt the parcel delivery industry incumbents by decentralizing the delivery business and putting it on … you guessed it, the blockchain.
Let’s take a look at what they offer.
Triwer is a Norwegian company that works on a “revolutionary parcel delivery platform”. Their goal is to eliminate inefficiencies in cargo delivery by introducing a crowd delivery marketplace. In other words, they aim to be an Uber for parcel deliveries, with initial focus on deliveries from small and medium European e-commerce websites to the end consumer.
Triwer plans to run the principle delivery smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, however the intermediate transactions (e.g. hand-offs), parcel tracking and pricing will be recorded on their custom sidechain for efficiency.
The business plan is to charge a certain commission (5%-15%) on all delivery revenue. Access to the Triwer delivery network will be limited only to the Triwer couriers and consumer apps, so while their smart contract will run on a decentralized Ethereum blockchain, Triwer will still serve as a commission charging middleman.
Singaporean ParcelX promises to be “The world’s first blockchain-powered parcel network.” with their focus being specifically on cross-border parcel delivery. They’re an existing Asian logistics network aiming to scale up by adopting the blockchain technology.
ParcelX has identified multiple inefficiencies in cross-border delivery industry, related to lack of transparency and trust between the different logistics providers. International parcel delivery usually go through several logistics vendor, each on their side of the border, and there is a lot of accounting and interoperability overhead in the interactions between the different vendors. ParcelX’s idea is to solve these issues with the blockchain technology, taking advantage of its inherent transparency and trust.
ParcelX network will use two separate blockchains. The first, a permissioned consortium blockchain, will use the Hyperledger Fabric technology for managing interactions between registered service providers. The second is the public Metaverse blockchain, on which all GPX (ParcelX’s token) transactions will run transparently.
At the end of the day, ParcelX aims to be a B2B blockchain solution that will make cross-border logistics much more reliable and efficient than they are now.
VOLT is a Korean P2P delivery platform based on blockchain technology. In a somewhat similar manner to Triwer, VOLT aims to reduce costs and delivery times by introducing a crowd delivery marketplace, clearly inspired by Uber/AirBnB.
While anyone will be able to offer courier services on the VOLT marketplace, the deliveries will be paid for with ACDC, the electrically named VOLT’s token. VOLT plans to burn 5% of all the token payments charged, thus deflating the token supply and driving up its price.
VOLT platform is based on the existing Korean delivery service called QuickQuick, however the lack of a public Github repository and further details about their platform’s implementation is disappointing.
The Israeli PAKET Project represents a global vision: a decentralized delivery network which is open to everybody, fully transparent and doesn’t take any commission. Similar to how the TCP/IP protocol routes data packets between all the Internet-connected devices, PAKET is building a protocol for deliveries of physical parcels between any network participants, wherever they might be located.
PAKET protocol takes into account insuring the parcels (courier must put a collateral into escrow), relays (a courier can hand-off a parcel to another courier at any point) and storage in hubs (any physical location that can store a package and get paid for it). This emerging ecosystem will be fully decentralized, as no entity will control the PAKET protocol and anyone will be able to develop apps and services on top of PAKET. The idea is not to compete with existing or future providers, but to establish a network on which all providers would be able to cooperate seamlessly.
PAKET protocol runs on the Stellar blockchain, which is known to be very fast and doesn’t suffer from the scalability issues that other major blockchains currently experience.
Several blockchain delivery startups are currently building their solutions, ranging from Uber-style crowd delivery apps to a fully decentralized physical delivery protocol. They all promise to eliminate inherent inefficiencies in the old centralized model, and to cut costs for the end consumer. It remains to be seen who will win in this race, but one thing is certain: courier and parcel delivery industry is ripe for disruption by blockchain startups.