UPS Moving Slowly on Blockchain Adoption – (and an Update on Whoppercoin!)


News from the cryptocurrency world today shows that UPS, the company whose trucks have been so ubiquitous on American streets this holiday season, is not yet ready to embrace blockchain technologies.

Prior reports theorized that UPS might have larger blockchain-based programs in place by the end of this year – after all, in August, news broke that UPS had issued a blockchain-related patent relevant to its operations.

Now, we have new quotes from UPS leaders talking about the practical prospects for blockchain adoption.

Chief digital officer Linda Jojo says the company has not been able to find the “killer use case” for blockchain according to recent reports, and UPS chief engineering and information officer Juan Perez  adds this commentary:

“I don’t expect significant benefits in 2019, primarily because the technology itself is continuing to evolve and mature … It requires a lot of parties to come to the table to participate and evaluate the technology.”

In Cointelegraph coverage, William Suberg adds that at the beginning of this year, blockchain seemed much more likely to become widespread as companies jumped on the bandwagon.

Here’s an excellent example of the trajectory that cryptocurrency interests have taken over the year.

You may or may not remember that back at the end of 2017, the Russian Burger King affiliate launched its own “Whoppercoin” which it tied to the company’s loyalty program.

Although there were lots of headlines at the time, you’re hard-pressed to come up with a good media trail covering Whoppercoin’s activity over the past year – until you come to this Crypto News Review article by Simon Brew titled “Whatever happened to Burger King’s own official cryptocurrency?”

“Back in the summer of 2017, it’s pretty much forgotten that Burger King launched what was called the WhopperCoin,” wrote Brew. “This was an initiative of Burger King Russia, and the idea was that for every Russian rouble spent in a Burger King outlet, customers – as well as getting some, er, healthy and delicious food – were given a WhopperCoin … this WhopperCoin could then be used to buy, well, a Whopper. Assuming the lucky customers had 1700 said Whoppercoins, which was was the cryptocurrency asking price of Burger King’s flagship sandwich. As many pointed out, it made far more economic sense if you wanted a Whopper to simply buy a Whopper.”

Brew reports that after 1 billion whopper coins were originally issued, there was no demand for additional coin issues. He also cites moribund trading activity and evidence that the last Whoppercoin trade took place this past September.

Whoppercoin is a good example because it was such a high-profile use of cryptocurrency tied to consumer products in a kind of glitzy showmanship move. At the time, people pointed out that loyalty programs are a good use case for blockchain – but as Brew points out, the key is that you have to have customer interest.

In the end, Whoppercoin ended up being the same kind of trash that you would have if you sent out paper tokens along with every burger that people just didn’t value and threw away. Since it’s digital, you don’t have the physical waste, but you do have the sunk costs of preparing and rolling out the digital coin cash, which will make other companies a little more cautious about pumping up crypto ideas until they think that the critical mass is happening. Look for these changes to happen perhaps in the year ahead.