Tobacco giant Philip Morris International is working on something they call ‘a public blockchain’. The New York-based company would use the technology to track tax stamps on cigarette boxes. The global head of architecture and tech innovation, Nitin Manoharan, revealed this on stage at the London Blockchain Expo on Thursday, as reported by Coindesk.
The bits of paper on the cigarette boxes are approximately $5.50 a piece, and they are supposedly quite easy to counterfeit. This costs governments and the industry 100 million dollars a year. According to Manoharan a blockchain solution could save Philip Morris $20 million as processes are automated instead of manually, and fraud will be reduced.
Interestingly, Philip Morris is not looking at a closed system. They are eyeing an open blockchain where anybody can join. “The aspiration is an industry-wide blockchain that interested stakeholders can come in and subscribe to it and benefit from it. If they see no value they can just leave”, he said. Mahoharan acknowledges that people who run a node need to receive an incentive.
However, all this doesn’t mean that Philip Morris is developing its own cryptocurrency or building something on top of an existing chain, like Ethereum. Manoharan suggests that the company is going to work with an adapted version of the Ethereum blockchain, using MultiChain. This is a platform where enterprises can build their own blockchain.
Philip Morris isn’t only looking at tax stamps. The company has more things in mind. Most of these case will be purely internal, but he believes that open networks hold great promise. “The real value is with public blockchains where you can have multiple players coming in and participating in a trustless manner”, he told during the expo.
Also published on Medium.