Trusterras: An Enterprise Blockchain Platform For Product Authenticity In The Supply Chain
The current business environment for producing goods has plenty of moving parts. Now that supply chains are global, it is possible to manufacture a product in a favorable location while sourcing the materials needed from other places. Based on the best price discovery, sourcing supplies can come from different locations around the world. Since that is the case, there is a need to establish trust among the participants involved in the supply chain from source to destination. That includes verifying the authenticity of the supply chain.
Trusterras provides a solution for companies to track the authenticity of their supply chain, through an enterprise blockchain-based system of verifying the sources down to the final product. Our goal is to bring trust and transparency among business partners through a federated consortium. This provides a way for business partners to see the details of their transactions within the supply chain for the following reasons:
- Detecting errors related to quantity, sourcing and pricing
- Guarantee the safety of product sources are coming from certified partners
- Assuring the delivery of goods to proper channels
- Tracking the fulfillment of services upon delivery
To protect brands and their reputation, it is important to maintain product authenticity. One of the main problems in retail today is fraud and piracy in the black market. Fake goods that imitate top brands are commonly sold at cheaper prices. In the case of food and pharmaceuticals, they can be a public risk to health and safety because they are not authentic. Many fake products contain hazardous ingredients that can affect consumers overall well being. In retail, there is a loss of quality since fake brands do not have the durability for wear and tear (e.g. clothing, accessories, luxury items).
Counterfeiters know that fake goods can be seized and destroyed. That is why they are resorting to new tactics in which they not only imitate top brands, but also attempt to imitate their logo, tags and certificates. The bigger problem is that this can really fool consumers who would otherwise have no idea what is fake and what is original. That is why we aim to provide a way to verify the authenticity of products using a blockchain.
Our system builds consortiums that consist of business partners. The consortiums share a common business that is part of the production process. Other consortiums can be linked through a federation or federated consortiums. All members of these consortiums become part of the whole system that comprises the supply chain. Any source ingredient or material is also part of the system. We refer to these as assets, which can be recorded on a distributed ledger database (i.e. blockchain) which each participating member of the consortium will have a copy of. These ensure transparency among the consortium’s members.
In the consortium, all manner of exchange of assets are recorded in order to not only provide transparency but immutability as well. It must first be agreed upon by consensus among the members. When a consensus has been reached, the transaction can be finalized and committed to the blockchain. Once committed, it cannot be reversed and is used for attestation of a transaction. The blockchain provides a layer of verification that also supports the provenance of transactions that have occurred within the supply chain.
How A Blockchain Provides Verification
A simple example can be used to explain how our system works. Supposed you have a consortium consisting of 3 business partners. You have Company A who produces apples from a specific farm. Company B is the partner that deals with transportation of the apples. Company C is the only authorized distributor. They are part of a consortium we can call BestApples.org. Once Company A has harvested the apples and packaged them, they are off to Company B for transport to Company C. Company C will then distribute the apples to the market.
BestApples.org products are proven authentic if they meet the criteria which we will set for the consortium:
- All apples must have originated only from the farm of Company A
- All delivery to distribution must have originated from Company B
- All distribution must have originated from Company C
If one or more of these criteria is false, then the product cannot be verified with a certificate of authenticity. It is therefore not considered a product of BestApples.org.
Using a blockchain-based ledger database, BestApples.org can track the supply chain from beginning to end. We begin by defining the product (i.e. the apples) as an asset that is harvested and packaged at Company A. When Company B picks up the asset for transport, the occurrence of the exchange is recorded as a transaction on the blockchain which all members of the consortium will have a copy of for transparency. When Company B has delivered the goods to Company C, it is recorded as another transaction.
To provide a certificate of authenticity, Company C can print a special QR code on the packaging of the products. Once scanned it will go to a link on our system that verifies the authenticity of the product. It can be scanned by the stores that receive the products from Company C, and by consumers as well. This verifies that the apple received is genuinely from BestApples.org.
Benefits And Advantages
When it comes to auditing and accounting, our system can decrease the amount of cost required to gather data. This is because the blockchain is a faster way to verify information. While typical databases provide query functions to create reports to verify information, with a blockchain much of that can be automated. A simple scan of a QR code can return the result that would otherwise require creating reports from various sources. This is because the data is quickly verifiable through the blockchain.
Our system also provides privacy for confidential data and information. For business partners that require a closed system in which only certain members can share and view data, it is possible through the creation of private channels within the blockchain. Outside parties will not have access to that data, only those members specified will have permission. This is also a security feature to prevent data theft and information leaks.
This also helps to build an efficient infrastructure among business partners. Since the blockchain is implemented as a distributed database, it is available to all members of a consortium. In the past, each company would have to maintain a separate database. The problem here is that there can be an inconsistency in data from one database to another. Sometimes each partner does not receive updates immediately and that can lead to miscommunication. With a blockchain-based DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology), all partners receive the information in real time. What one partner will see in their database, is exactly what other partners will see as well.
All of these benefits are the advantages for using a blockchain-based system for product authenticity.
Trust And Transparency
What our system aims to finally deliver is trust and transparency to solidify business relations. For brands to maintain their reputation it is important that their products are authentic, otherwise their value can go down. A system that builds trust among partners is also honest and open. There is nothing to conceal, but everything to reveal, and that is what makes the system more trustworthy.