3 blockchain projects to provide food and product safety

The problem of counterfeit may not be so acute for people living in Europe and in the US, but it is really bad in Asia. According to the Forbes report (March 2018), around 80% of the world’s counterfeit is produced in China. The trade in counterfeit and pirated goods accounts for 1.7 trillion USD per year. This amount is expected to grow up to 2.8 trillion USD by 2022.

Up until recently, there was no means to effectively help resolve this global issue. But it has become possible with the introduction of the blockchain technologies. Since blockchain allows to store data in a transparent, trustless, immutable, and secure way, it represents a perfect tool for tracking the source of a given product.

How supply chain can be tracked on the blockchain

The problem of the counterfeit has been known for ages. Some attempts to trace sources of products have been made before, but there was always a problem of a human factor as the data could only be collected and uploaded to the network manually. And even if there were supervisors to control the input data, there was still the risk for this data to be tampered later.

Blockchain in conjunction with the IoT (Internet of Things) devices eliminates the need for manual input and helps automate the whole process. Here’s how it works:

  1. IoT devices collect the information about the product’s path from a manufacturer to a consumer: the temperature and other environmental variables, how the product was transported and stored, if it is authentic or not, etc.
  2. This information is recorded into the blockchain with the help of RFID chips (Radio Frequency Identification). All data is gathered and recorded by machines and there is no chance of a human error.
  3. If a user wants to check the source of a given product, all that they need to do is screen the QR code on a product’s label with the help of a smartphone.
  4. If the label gets tampered anyhow, the built-in technology prevents it from being scanned. Thus, the user will know that this given product is a counterfeit.

Real-life use cases for blockchain implementation

Managing the supply chain can be one of the first use cases of blockchain adoption at the mass level. Huge names, such as JD (China), Walmart (US) and Carrefour (France), are in the midst of experimenting with blockchain technologies and may soon expand them to the mass audience.

Also, there are several blockchain-based projects that focus on creating infrastructural tools for managing supply chains. We’d like to review the most prominent of them in detail: VeChain, Waltonchain, and Tael (formerly known as Wabi).

#1. VeChain

Initially launched on Ethereum, the VeChain team has developed its own blockchain combining traditional approach with the technology provided by the anonymous browser Thor. The project was rebranded to VeChain Thor in February 2018. It has managed to overcome Ethereum’s scalability problem and allows processing up to 10,000 transactions per second.

The project uses technologies such as RFID, NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, and IoT devices together with the new scalable blockchain. It aims to track all the possible products, from food and alcohol to electronic devices.

The mobile app is already available on Google Play and iTunes.

VeChain has managed to partner with some reputable companies and officials, including:

  • DNV GL, a global audit company. Partners since January 2018.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four Auditors worldwide with IBM, Ford, Dell, and Cisco in the clients’ list. Partners since May 2018.
  • The Chinese government. This partnership is significant, for it shows that the new technology is now being considered at the official level. VeChain will be the blockchain technology provider for the Guian New Economic Zone. Partners since December 2017.

The full list of partners is available on VeChain Insider, an unofficial website with the latest news on VeChain Thor development.

#2. Waltonchain

The project was named after Charlie Walton, the inventor of the RFID technology. It combines the blockchain with the Internet of Things and is based on the combination of PoW (Proof of Work) and PoST (Proof of Stake and Trust). PoST is an improved version of PoS that takes a node’s reputation into account when determining who will produce the next block.

Mainnet went live on March 31st, 2018.

Waltonchain has also gained some important partners:

  • Korean Standards Association, a public organization under South Korea’s Ministry of Trade. Partners since June 2018.
  • FashionET since June 2018 and Dongdaemun Fashion Town since September 2018. These two are Waltonchain’s first strategic partners to implement Waltonchain’s technologies into their own business models.

#3. Tael (formerly known as Wabi)

The main focus of this project is the baby food market in China. The problem of poor quality baby food proved to be very acute after the Chinese milk scandal in 2008 with more than 300,000 victims, 54,000 babies hospitalized, and 6 babies dead due to kidney damage.

It may be fine for an adult to buy fake fashion clothes for 50 USD instead of 500. Yes, you know that a true brand cannot be sold at such a low price. But who cares if you buy it cheap? Your unsophisticated friends will never know the difference.

However, a baby’s security is a totally different story, isn’t it? The founders of the project, Belinski and Busarov, who have been living in China for some time, have come across this issue themselves. Since then, they have received a grant from the Chinese government to further develop this idea.

Conclusion

The cryptocurrency market is at the downtrend at the moment and many investors who were blinded by greed and easy money in 2017, leave the industry in disappointment. However, those who see the true potential of the blockchain technology stay to further develop it.

Verifying the products’ supply chain is one of the first use cases of the new technology, bringing real benefits to the mass market. We may still live to see how our lives will improve in the years to come.

Originally published at cryptoheroes.ch on January 26, 2019.

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Blockchain and cryptocurrency marketing specialist

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