Jessi Baker, founder of blockchain technology platform Provenance, envisions a future where all physical products have digital histories, allowing people to trace and verify products’ origins, attributes and ownership. Is it time for a new dawn of transparency in retail?
The software platform is a means to help people find out where products are sourced from, and how ethically and sustainably. It is designed to improve the transparency of supply chains and, at the same time, promote brands that commit to ethical sourcing, fair working conditions, quality and sustainability.
We want to reinforce the good and get the good to spread quickly
“Provenance encourages brands to volunteer data about their supply chain,” explains Baker. “We ask them to prove that data, track it, and they must provide links back to proven materials. That way, we can verify an ethical provenance. We’re not a WikiLeaks-style organisation, digging for the bad. We want to showcase the businesses that are really trying to be ethical.”
“Authenticity is so important, especially in our industry,” notes Dave Withers, master distiller at Archie Rose. “Having a link to the provenance of our produce is important, especially as consumers are starting to lose track of where raw materials come from.”
Technical barriers when it comes to blockchain are no longer as prohibitive as they once were. Crucially, smartphone usage across the world has boomed. In Africa alone, operators report the number of smartphone connections across the continent almost doubling between 2014-16, reaching 226m. In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union estimated about 3.2bn people – almost half of the world’s population – would be online by the end of that year.
Amid a shift in people’s perception of value, authenticity is the real currency today, suggests Scott Ewings, managing director of London-based product development studio Big Radical. “There are many business sectors where provenance is important; food and drink certainly – the horsemeat scandal of 2013 is an extreme example.”
Could we soon see brands being ostracised for failing to adopt transparent supply chains? “There is much evidence to suggest that the incoming generation is one led far more by ethics and brands with purpose. ‘Fakery’ is easy to spot, and then destroy, via social media,” says Ewings.
Above all, Baker and her Provenance colleagues want to nurture companies that are doing things well rather than criticising those who are not. “We want to reinforce the good and get the good to spread quickly.”
Source : Positive.news