How Ethereum Blockchain was used to Track Tuna Fish Movement from Fiji

Yellowfin Tuna

Viant startup organized a demonstration that was meant to showcase one of the most significant uses of blockchain technology. The demonstration showed how tuna fish was caught. It began by showing the water in Fiji where the fish stayed at, to where it traveled on ice until the time it got into a sushi hand roll. The tracking of the yellowfin tuna across the globe took place by the use of Ethereum blockchain. Documentation was done on the whole journey of the fish. This is from the docking point to the processing facility.

Many startups together with major companies like Walmart and IBM are backing blockchain technology to be a success. They say that the technology will revolutionize the way goods move globally. Blockchain technology is mainly a distributed chain of data entries. Everyone is in a position to view the data but they cannot spoil the data itself. It is easy to say that blockchain versions of ledgers that are more digitized. Moreover, they are more secure.

The supply chain is seen as an excellent case study for the technology. There are green lights to its success. But there are also significant challenges to deploy blockchain technology widely in logistics. The process will take an extended period before it materializes. Viant carried out the full demonstration of the technology at the Ethereal Summit. According to Viant’s co-founder Kishore Atreya, the current supply chain is minimal. He added that many tracking techs for instance UPS reflect data that only matters to them. For instance, in the package, customers only receive the history and logistic views. But they do not get the whole view of the product like its source, ingredients, processing, and others. It is hard or impossible for one to tell where the product they are using comes from. It involves a lot of businesses and people to ship a container of for example avocado from India to the Netherlands. Farmers have a duty of dropping the avocados, and then boats have to pick them.  After that, the regulator signs off on the contents of the containers. It does not end there before people ensure that the fruits are not spoiled. All the communication involved is still carried out using analog technology.

According to T-mining’s CEO, Christiaan Sluijs, the process involves many parties. Approximately 30 parties are all included in checking the container, and all are merely waiting for communication from one another. He said that many firms are still handling crucial documents like invoices using paperwork. According to IBM, the complete paperwork accounts for about one-fifth of the total cost of transportation. This is a crude way since the information can be sent digitally. All these are what calls for the adoption of blockchain technology in chain supply.

The idea behind blockchain technology is to digitize the paperwork. Therefore, it allows each person in the supply chain to tell the location of shipment. The system is in a position to stay inside a mobile app and incorporate another tech. Another tech might be internet-connected sensors, cameras or RFID chips.  The most appealing part of the technology is its ability to facilitate the so-called smart contracts. They are also referred to as automated agreements. They work after meeting certain conditions. For instance, the shipper of the avocado in India can automatically get payments once the container with these goods gets to Amsterdam, Netherlands as its destination. Smart contracts are also in a position to handle important paperwork. This is because they are more secure compared to an emailed PDF and one cannot easily manipulate them.

The primary target is to get everyone within the supply chain on a single digitized system. The technology together with other tools can track the real time of the shipment’s status. For instance, there can be a sensor that checks the temperature of the container of the banana. This is to ensure that they do not spoil. The data is feed into blockchain where everyone can view and cannot be tampered with. Therefore, in case the bananas spoil, everyone will be in a position to know the reasons behind it. The question is what if a person tries to lie about the temperature of the bananas or other parts of the supply chain? The answer is blockchains are not centrally located. The system is not controlled by a single party. In case of any alteration of the data, the system can crash, or one can detect. The fact that the system is decentralized is what can bring the difference.

The tricky part with it is that if someone gives a false information on the contents of the container to be shipped. But blockchain powered platform will have in place some fail-safes. For example, it might have a sensor that goes off in case a container is altered. Accenture’s managing director, Carly Guenther said that the system would have alerts and alarms to various entities in the supply chain. The blockchain tech is in a position to minimize fraud and mistakes. But it cannot do away with them altogether. Ramesh Gopinath, IBM’s blockchain solution vice president said that the system would be involving the human being at one point and they will still maintain their nature. He also said that two challenges come with relocating blockchain to supply chain. One of it is convincing each person in the supply chain that it is good to move to a new system. This will call for participation of many firms. The second challenge is governance. It will be hard to decide on its management since it is not centrally located.

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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Pacific countries and the rest of the world.
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