Should blockchain form part of your digital transformation?
As physical retailers and fast-moving goods firms become digital content companies experimenting with Web3 and the metaverse, it makes sense to explore the market and sell goods and services (both real and virtual) within these interactive 3D platforms.
But whoever’s metaverse it is, is there ever an advantage in using digital tokens or cryptocurrency powered by blockchain to make transactions when a credit card or bank transfer involving old fashioned fiat currency works just as well?
And will a hoodie designed by a retailer in partnership with an NFT artist ever become a collector’s item worth thousands, perhaps millions of pounds – all while helping to shift units of leisurewear?
As Industry 4.0 progresses with its own digital transformation and factories becoming ‘smart’ thanks to IoT interconnectivity and increased automation, where do deployments involving a decentralised immutable digital ledger called blockchain fit into this equation?
We spoke to three firms offering real life use cases for blockchain technologies to find out just exactly what benefits they can offer to business – whether that be to enhance cyber security, increase supply chain trust, or simply though creating a marketing tool to enhance customer experience.
AgriLedger: Creating trust throughout the supply chain
Founded by financial consultant Genevieve Leveille from the seed of an idea that grew from a 2016 Hackathon event, AgriLedger uses digital ledger technology (DLT) to establish trust throughout the agricultural supply chain.
According to AgriLedger, up to half of the income available from farming can be lost in the agriculture industry because of poor information flow throughout the supply chain. So, the start-up is on a mission to tackle this issue by ‘democratizing agriculture data using blockchain’
AgriLedger’s platform assigns farmers enrolled in the system a digital ID number which is essential to be part of the digital supply chain and access financial services, logistics, insurance and other services. For instance, through AgriLedger’s system farmers can tokenize their products and have improved access to peer-to-peer dealing.
The platform also enables supermarkets and consumers to learn more about the origins of their food sources. A QR code for each agricultural commodity is produced: this allows buyers at the supermarket to scan a fruit’s QR code and see whose tree the fruit comes from, how it was packaged and transported (to understand the environmental impact), and what costs were involved at each step – from the moment a unit of fruit was picked from a tree to the moment it’s paid for by the buyer.
AgriLedger’s blockchain ecosystem launched in the Caribbean in May 2020, with support from Haiti’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank, allowing Haitian fruit farmers and their consumers to benefit from fairer prices and improved food security.
These farmers are at most risk of not receiving sufficient funds when something goes wrong in transport, or if the produce has been sold for higher than agreed, explains Leveille, and so smaller farming businesses benefit from the technology as it allows farmers to trace the journey of their produce – resulting in a more equitable world that everyone can participate in.
Leveille – who is AgriLedger’s CEO – believes blockchain will become a necessity for enterprises – in the same way email has.
“You’re going to find that blockchain technology participating in a blockchain ecosystem will become a reality and a necessity in the same way that one now requires a web page,” she says.
“Very much like many other technologies, we will be talking about it like it is part of our daily lives. It’s just that it needs to be integrated and there’s still a few growing pains,” she adds.
According to Leveille, when and if digital currencies become more universally accepted, then the finance departments in most businesses will need to know how to exchange electronically and outside of the ecosystem of a central bank.
Coca-Cola: Generating customer fizz via NFTs
Last summer Coca-Cola dipped its toe into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) joining forces with Tafi – a firm that creates custom avatars and 3D branded content, as well as NFT auction site OpenSea.
Launched on International Friendship Day the fizzy drinks megabrand held an auction for ‘loot boxes’ of NFTs created by Tafi which included digital apparel that could be worn in Decentraland – a decentralised open-access 3D virtual reality platform, hosted on an Ethereum-powered blockchain.
The initiative generated over $500K in profit for its chosen charity the Special Olympics.
According to Abdel Boazzati, the partnerships and blockchain lead at Coca-Cola, the brand has been using blockchain as an entertainment proposal and the company is currently in the “test and learn” phase – to see what works.
At Christmas Coca-Cola also trialled an NFT snow globe collection with digital collectible platform VeVE which sold out in 0.3 seconds – establishing it as the most successful collection of NFTs on the VeVe app.
Boazzati claims that harnessing NFTs to get consumers to interact with the Coca-Cola brand can be used to increase brand loyalty.
He also envisions blockchain applications where a consumer can enjoy their purchase across multiple platforms – as a physical product, in a metaverse environment, as part of a collection or inside a computer game.
Boazzati thinks it’s inevitable that enterprises will include blockchain in their roadmaps – especially from the point of view of centralising and replacing physical contracts with contracts executed on the blockchain.
But for now, he recognises that most companies are at the very beginning of their blockchain journeys while the technology remains nascent – with many deployments still in their initial stages.
“We are at the very beginning of Web 3.0, Blockchain, Crypto, and NFTs. We are in the 1995 era of the dot-com and internet boom. Everyone who experiments with Blockchain will be at the forefront of this revolution.”
IoTeX: Ensuring aid for Ukraine reaches those who need it most
IoteX is currently lending its blockchain solutions to several projects including a charity which aims to direct aid to those most in need who have been affected by the war in Ukraine.
Founding member and head of cryptography at the US start-up Xinxin Fan says the company’s aim is to “empower the future machine economy with a combination of blockchain and IoT.”
The Ukrainian aid project Unchain is organised by blockchain activists to support civilians impacted by war with humanitarian aid. It works with local activists to provide food, medicine, transport, clothing, hygiene products and protective equipment to civilians in need.
All donations go to a multi-signature wallet before being distributed to its chosen organisations. According to IoteX, plugging aid into the blockchain provides transparent funding reports on how donations are allocated and ensures all donations are used to support people in need, and not to fund war and violence.
Fan believes that blockchain’s strongest assets are its ability to “enforce the trust of all stakeholders” as well as reducing costs and enhancing cyber security.
IoTeX is also working with MOBI to aid research and pilot projects for this initiative which was set up by multiple stakeholders to explore the benefits of blockchain in the automotive industry. One feature is MOBI’s Trusted Trip – which can track the journey of a person, package or vehicle from one place to another.
For Trusted Trip IoTeX was able to draw on one of its earlier technologies – ‘Pebble Tracker’ – an IoT based multi-sensor, tamper-proof asset tracking device that streams data such as GPS, climate, motion, and light from the real world onto an ‘on-chain smart contract.’
IoTeX claims that by combining a decentralised identity that contains unique characteristics of a person or vehicle with ubiety (unique positions in space and time), Trusted Trip can enable transparency and monetisation opportunities in the mobility-service economy.
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