Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway Joins Blockchain in Transport Alliance

BNSF Railway, the rail transport and logistics company owned by Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway, has been unveiled as the latest member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance.

The alliance, which sees companies across the transport sector working in collaboration to develop fundamental blockchain technologies and applications for the industry, welcomed the high-profile arrival of BNSF as a partner.

According to BNSF representatives earlier in the week, the decision will allow the company access to joint projects with other members, in developing standard protocols for data formatting, structuring and transactions via the blockchain.

BNSF’s chief information officer, Muru Murugappan, who also serves as vice-president of technologies, said the move would enable the company to help develop the frameworks for a blockchain future in transport.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to change several aspects of the transportation industry and it is important that the industry comes together to align around a set of standards.”

In taking this step, BNSF Railway becomes one of the first rail companies of its kind to embark on a blockchain project, and places the company in the pole position for influencing technological standards that could deliver significant efficiency gains for the sector.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance, or BiTA, works with over 200 partners from a range of transport sectors, with the stated aim of providing standardized formats for blockchain applications in the transport sector.

Members include companies like FedEx and UPS, alongside the likes of SAP and China’s JD.com. The addition of BNSF Railway extends the focus of the consortium to rail transport, and analysts have suggested their work could ultimately lead to greater interoperability between blockchain systems throughout the logistics industries.

The decision is also notable given Warren Buffett’s recent criticisms of bitcoin, which saw him deride cryptocurrency markets as “a bubble.” However, at the time of making those comments, he was keen to stress he still believed in the power of the underlying technology — a belief that can be seen in practice in the decision to align BNSF with BiTA’s development aims.