If you’ve been around blockchain for any length of time, you’ve probably heard this ambition before: let’s put the whole world on the blockchain.
That hasn’t happened yet, but two companies showcasing at the London Blockchain Conference 2023 have built a tool to help people do precisely that.
Trace, the brainchild of IBM and Gate2Chain, is a blockchain-powered platform that facilitates the creation and tracking of “digital twins” across the entire supply and distribution chain.
“Our primary objective is to solve everyday problems for real-world businesses and simplify the integration of blockchain technologies into business processes,” explained Jessica Jaume, operations and business development manager at Gate2Chain.
To that end, Trace requires no native tokens, no miner fees, and none of the volatility often associated with blockchain technology. Using the BSV blockchain, the Trace platform allows users to create a digital twin—essentially a token—of any item and store valuable information within them.
It sounds like a simple idea, but it’s a powerful one. One of the biggest challenges in supply and distribution chains is the pollution of counterfeit goods and theft, leeching from companies’ bottom lines and damaging brand reputation worldwide.
Having a digital twin secured by the immutability of the blockchain allows physical items to be managed electronically in a way that is transparent to anyone interacting with the supply chain. With reference to an item’s digital twin, customers can verify its provenance and authenticity across the product’s lifecycle, giving the almost ethereal concept of ownership real-world value. If an item with a digital twin gets stolen, it can be marked as such and rendered useless to the thief in the same way a stolen credit card can be.
Companies can trace their products throughout their supply chains and give the above-mentioned benefits to customers, helping them prolong their relationship with customers.
The proof was almost literally in the pudding, as the concept was tested in full at a pre-LBC VIP dinner with Michelin Star chef Ollie Dabbous, where 100 select guests were treated to a meal at Searcy’s in London. The meal—including all of its components—was twinned using Trace.
“As a chef, you’re only as good as the ingredients that come into your kitchen,” said Dabbous in a taped interview shown during the Trace presentation.
“It’s one thing saying it. It’s another doing it and then being able to prove it.”
Food is an excellent demonstration of the value provided by Trace for the reasons alluded to by Dabbous. Diners typically have to trust that whatever ingredients were used to make the dish in front of them are what the restaurant says they are, and a restaurant’s entre reputation hinges on this being the case.
But why should there be any trust at all? That’s the question Trace asks—and answers. There doesn’t need to be, thanks to the blockchain.
Of the Gate2Chain-IBM partnership, Dr. Agata Slater, strategy consultant at IBM, said onstage that IBM had been involved with blockchain technology for almost 10 years now.
“We work primarily with enterprise clients, and we help them to enter the space that, in many people’s minds, is still reserved for cryptocurrency,” she states.
But the immutability of transactions, smart contracts, and many more features of blockchains can really benefit enterprises, she says.
“We believe that a solution such as Trace can drive trust and traceability across all industries. Trust and traceability are becoming more and more important as the world pushes for more sustainability and a circular economy,” Dr. Slater notes.
Dr. Slater fired off a couple of examples in which Trace could have been used: farmers in Poland suspicious of imported grain being mixed with premium grain from Poland and then sold as the real thing, and the pharma industry, where according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 10% of all drugs in circulation are substandard and falsified.
The session closed by displaying a quote from Dr. Craig Wright on the stage screen:
“Imagine somebody stealing your gold and it turning into lead, and when you recover it, it turns into gold again.”
With a digital counterpart, this principle can be applied to anything you could imagine.
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