Can blockchains drive supply chain transparency in 2016?
Provenance, a London-based software company, is using public blockchains to create a comprehensive trust mark that will span the entire length of the supply chain.
In short, a blockchain provides a shared database that is both transparent and tamper-proof. Specifically, it is a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed and has complete information about addresses and balances right from the genesis block to the most recently completed block.
Jessi Baker, who heads the company, said: "Provenance is focused on helping great companies to build more trust from customers by being more transparent with how they create their products. As well as the environmental impact, it's about authenticity data – so where was something really made; was it really made by that person.
"We are very concerned with how this data is presented to consumers, and not just end consumers but consumers along the chain, so it could be a retailer buying from a producer, for example. We are very focused on the accessibility of that information, and how it is presented, on product or in-store."
Provenance will also use the transparency of blockchains as a clear path to discovering if something is sourced in a sustainable manner, including whether slavery or other abhorrent practices were used across the supply chain.
Baker said: "We have three levels that we are thinking about. The first is the business level: so who is this company? What do they do? Do they pay tax? Then the product level, which is around supply chain mapping. The blockchain component is more item level tracking, so is this particular item what it says it is? Is it really organic? Has it really been made by this company, in this place? So it's a bit of a hybrid.”