Blockchain for supply chain: Australia sees promise

Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has a keen interest in utilising blockchain technology for use cases like food origin and traceability to improve safety, and protect Australian growers from fraudulent and counterfeit products.

This forms part of their wider strategy developing a National Blockchain Roadmap to highlight the sectoral opportunities posed by blockchain to enhance the whole economy.

For Australian exporters, food and wine fraud in 2017 alone was estimated at over A$1.68 billion (US$1.16 billion), according to Food Innovation Australia.

In a submission to the Senate Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said:

“The safety, quality, taste and well-regulated production of Australian-branded agricultural and food goods – which make them popular and high-value commodities in foreign markets—make the Australian brand an attractive target for counterfeiting.

“The process of growing, producing, manufacturing and transporting goods is complex, with many different participants involved in the process. The use of blockchain in food provenance and traceability could improve food safety, and protect Australian producers from fraudulent and counterfeit products.”

They have also stated that they desire to have standardised data sharing along a supply chain for all activities from “procurement, production, processing, manufacturing, distribution, import and export.”

The word blockchain has understandably sparked the curiosity of a lot of government entities. It is easy to get caught into the buzzword to assume they are all equal, and rely on a reputable organisation offering a solution that simply does not fit the need or solve the problem it set out to fix.

An example would be a blockchain packaged by service providers and business solution providers like IBM with their Hyperledger offering. This product is essentially sold as a private blockchain as it is hosted on their servers and poses the same risks and limitations that storing data has today, not to mention it becomes an expensive mechanism to run what would resemble a private database.

The problem that government entities are looking to solve can only be accomplished with the use of a single, integrated public blockchain that avoids the problems that are present today with different information scattered across different organisations that cannot be easily shared data sources.

A public blockchain is encrypted and is more secure, scalable, cheaper to use that also provides the interoperability between different parts of the lifecycle across different companies required to solve the problem that is faced with supply chain management today.

An interesting supply chain product is being developed by a company UNISOT (Universal Source of Truth) they are creating a distributed database for all companies to use and manage their supply chains, leveraging of a public blockchain.

UNISOT CEO Stephan Nilsson has explored all public blockchain options, and determined that the best solution available that ticks all of the above boxes is Bitcoin SV (BSV). Nilsson said:

“Since we are delivering enterprise solutions, we also need an enterprise blockchain with enterprise characteristics. So, we need it to be scalable, it has to be proven and verified, it has to be immutable, there are some blockchains out there that many companies are using, but it’s not immutable. We need it to be stable and resilient. It has to be private and secure. It must have high availability, globally distributed, have low fees and predictable fees, and … we need to have legal tokens and legal smart contracts. They have to be legal if we’re going to use it in an enterprise environment. And last, but not least, it has to be an open, including and censor free community, or society. And what we found out; Bitcoin SV is the only blockchain having these characteristics.”

Public blockchains will always have option of data portability if a company goes down that can be accessed with their encrypted keys onto the next provider as the data remains immutable forever, something that cannot be done with private blockchains.

Government entities should do their due diligence and choose their solution wisely in the beginning, without burning their pockets in the process, as they will find themselves using the best technological solution in the end that the rest of the market agree on as all participants will only benefit in this by leveraging off the data sharing capabilities.

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