As of January 19, 2018, firms can pay the Swiss firm’s SkyCell AG division – which makes temperature-controlled containers to store medicines – in Bitcoins (BTC) or Ethereum Classics (ETC), as well as in EUR, USD and CHF.
The company said the initiative aims to speed up transaction times for clients, and “marks a decisive step towards further integrating blockchain technologies into the logistics industry.”
CEO Richard Ettl said traditionally, more than 200 unintegrated documents are needed to process one international pharma shipment.
“These documents are sent back and forth by email between relevant stakeholders, creating an inefficient amount of workload,” he added.
However, blockchain technology – a digitized public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions – can facilitate the exchange of these documents, he told us.
According to Ettl, only a small number of companies have embraced cryptocurrencies as a payment tool.
“Pharma is well placed as an industry to benefit from this opportunity due to the need to process large payments in many currencies,” he told us.
“The instantaneous nature of transactions conducted using cryptocurrency will also serve to minimize the effects of fluctuating currency exchange rates – which can heavily impact payments made in a number of global currencies as a result of elongated processing times,” said the firm.
Further, “By introducing the possibility of conducting transactions through cryptocurrency, Smart Containers Group will reduce payment processes to a matter of minutes, while cutting out third-party handling fees entirely,” said Ettl.
“Using cryptocurrencies will facilitate invoice settlement, as banking fees are reduced and the impact of currency fluctuations is minimized,” he added.
According to Ettl, accepting cryptocurrencies as payment is the first step in creating the "autonomous container," and complements the company's long-term vision of providing "fully autonomous containers of the future, which will administer themselves entirely based on smart contract technology.”
“Using blockchain technology, the autonomous container will have smart contracts programmed into its sensors that can settle invoices automatically,” he added.
The firm is seeking partners in the pharma logistics space to set up a foundation in Switzerland to manage this project.