Many different use cases for blockchain have been tried and tested over the last years by startups, corporations and governments alike. Some of them have found real world applications but most have not made it out of a proof-of-concept phase. Building on interactions with major blockchain actors at national level, the B-hub consortium has identified a number of particularly relevant use cases throughout the different ecosystems.
Our series of blockchain use cases articles features examples that, while varying greatly in terms of sectors and usage, have in common that they are currently applicable, somewhat mature – underlying technology exists and is available on the market – and implemented.
This sixth article deals with verifiable origin for consumer goods. Producers can use blockchain-based platforms to communicate to consumers the quality and the story of their products, providing details on the entire supply chain and the existing certifications.
Description and problem statement
Consumers are increasingly demanding towards brands when it comes to delivering on promises of honest and responsible sourcing. On the other hand, brands struggle to share their efforts and investments, to connect actions to specific products, to communicate the value behind certifications and labels, and to find engaging touchpoints on the product. There is indeed a need to bridge the trust gap between producers’ efforts and consumers’ concerns.
As a consequence, detailed and trustful information on the origin, the provenance, the safety and traceability of food products or is becoming critical for their success on the market. This also stands true for quality, origin, authenticity and uniqueness of luxury products. With many controls and checks in a process that involves a wide variety of sources, the cost and time of certification is high.
Through blockchain platforms, producers have the opportunity to share with consumers the authentic products story and origin, by storing and displaying verified facts from quality to social, environmental or ethical integrity information. Blockchain allows a digitally certified information relationship between the producer and the final consumer.
Why is blockchain particularly relevant to address this problem?
Blockchain technology acts as an additional trust generator. It allows for product certification and guarantee of authenticity in a secure way. The blockchain-based systems enable companies to turn marketing buzzwords into true, verified and unmodifiable stories.
Blockchain can be used for brand building and customer loyalty, turning technical facts into a compelling, emotional story linked to the product, and its territory of origin, its quality, its uniqueness, instantly accessible by consumers.
The consumer, through a QR-code on the product, can dive into the aspects of interest of products on their smart device. Blockchain also adds reliability to QR codes identification processes, that to this day still present genuine counterfeiting risks.
How does it work?
This is usually done through software-platforms that support producers in the traceability and the certification of products by using blockchain technology and smart contracts. The main technical components are a database with a register of all transactions and steps of the production and transformation process; or digital ledgers that store all authenticity process steps.
On the user side, a readable smart tag appears on the product through a QR code. As soon as the scanner reads the smart tag, the app shows a landing page with the product details. In other cases, apps allow customers to access information stored on the blockchain platform, or to monitor the production process, or even to participate in product customisation.
For agro-food products, for example, it is possible to check information on production locations, details on the types of fertilizers used to grow the crops, and how each batch is transported for processing and delivery.
What are some examples of implementation?
Numerous implementation examples exist in the agrifood and luxury sector. In Italy for example, several initiatives ensure digital traceability and certification of wine (Wine Blockchain), cheese (Formaggio Asiago), oranges (Arancia rossa di Sicilia Igp, progetto Rouge); and the authenticity of Lamborghini cars.
What are some examples of technology providers?
Want to see more blockchain use cases articles? Check out our previous articles, including Peer-to-peer consumers energy management and trading platform ; Digital platform for ecommerce payment transactions with crypto currency; as well as our country-specific perspectives on blockchain adoption.