Philippines’ Biggest Electricity Distributor Bares Interest on Blockchain and AI

Nov 26, 2018 at 23:25

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the Philippines’ biggest power distributor, expressed its interest to venture on the use of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence in its bid to disrupt its traditional business in order to eventually achieve its goal of becoming an internet company with a power business.

The idea was stated by Manuel Pangilinan, the company’s chairman, during the Meralco Technology and Innovation Summit 2018 last week.

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“We take a closer look at a fresh wave of powerful technology that could threaten to disrupt the current business model,” he explained.

It can be recalled that Meralco first implemented its digital transformation last 2016.

During the same event, Gavin Barfield, the company’s chief technology advisor, detailed that they want to use blockchain in processing transactions, data and other “things of value.”

“Technology is moving so quickly, we can’t just say we’re done. So now, we need to look at the next wave of technologies, so blockchain is very interesting and particularly artificial intelligence,” he expressed.

Barfield added that they also see the company to utilize the technology for peer-to-peer trading of energy.

“Imagine a subdivision with batteries and solar, instead of selling their excess power to the grid and buying it back from Meralco, they can sell it to their neighbor directly,” he claimed.

The official also admitted that they are eyeing to already capitalize on such innovations as early as now since it can disrupt the traditional business of Meralco if they stick to power distribution alone.

Barfield said that they are already talking to companies such as UK-based firm, Verv which is involved in energy trading as well as Nuvve, a San Diego-based tech startup that specializes on the use of blockchain for electronic vehicle charging systems.

“We’re talking to a couple of companies with a platform and are looking to see whether we can start something. It’s not gonna be a big project… it’s an interesting concept to try… Whenever there’s a middleman, there’s an opportunity to bypass them and our challenge in Meralco is to remain relevant,” he stated.

Last August, the Philippines’ Pasig River Rehabilitation Council also signified its interest to tap blockchain tech with a team of local and South African environmentalists and entrepreneurs in the process of rehabilitating the country’s most polluted river system