BTL Group (TSXV:BTL) could be one of the current crop of blockchain companies that actually turns into a viable business, says fund manager Robert McWhirter, who claims that the company could break out of the bitcoin rut if its partnership with some big-name petroleum companies actually pans out.
Last year, businesses incorporating blockchain’s distributed ledger technology were riding the wave of public interest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, which turned out to be a double-edged sword for companies like Vancouver-based BTL, who saw its share price quadruple between late October and mid December, only to lose almost all of those gains over subsequent months.
But the company which calls itself one of a small number of pure-play blockchain businesses could see its efforts to take advantage of blockchain’s strengths (namely, secure and efficient digital record-keeping) pay off in a major way if its platform applications in the oil and gas industry pay off, says McWhirter, president of Selective Asset Management Inc.
“BTL is working on a petroleum trading system out of the United Kingdom,” says McWhirter to BNN Bloomberg. “They’ve been working with approximately eight companies, most of whom have spent millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars in order to create their own trading system. If it turns out that the pilot with the eight companies is successful, then I think you’ll see a radical rollout within the small community of oil traders both within petroleum and natural gas in the UK and, I think, eventually coming to North America.”
“Most blockchain companies had huge wind in their sails [from cryptocurrencies],” he says. “Now the reality is setting in as far as, ‘Is there a viable business?’ Again, BTL is working on a viable program with huge clients, solving a big problem for them and if they’re successful, I think they’ll do quite well.”
At the Consensus blockchain conference in New York City last week, BTL conducted a public demonstration of its recently launched Interbit platform, which the company says is a “next generation” blockchain platform offering a simpler and more secure way of computing. As an example, BTL CEO Tom Thompson pointed to the truck routing app TruckLovely, which is built on Interbit and is used to streamline logistics for transport companies.
“Blockchain is most commonly associated with cryptocurrency, but it has so many more potential real-world applications,” says Thompson. “The TruckLovely app running on our Interbit platform brings blockchain out of the virtual world and uses it to deliver tangible goods and services to bricks and mortar businesses.”
Among the oil companies BTL is currently working with are Italy’s Eni S.p.A., Austria’s Wien Energie and the U.K.’s BP. “There are uses for blockchain that could give us a competitive advantage,” says David Eton, head of technology for BP, to the Financial Times. “Blockchain can be much more efficient in terms of speed and verification of transactions.”