The “blockchain” – or chain of blocks – is a key technology for building trust in a transaction. This concept of distributed and decentralized database is in fact particularly secure: the data are timestamps, immutable and non-repudiable. The blockchain can therefore be seen as a “digital notary“, Which keeps track of every transaction, then records it in a non-falsifiable ledger.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs inspire businesses
On January 3, 2009, the world witnessed the large-scale start of the blockchain, with the arrival of Bitcoin. A great success, which contributed to the birth of a multitude of other cryptocurrencies and blockchains. Since then, the solidity of this technology has interested the most traditional players in the world of finance. In June 2019, Visa launched the B2B Connect platform, aimed at facilitating cross-border payments by enabling direct bank-to-bank transactions. A system based on a private blockchain. Few players in the world of finance are not looking into this technology today, which reduces the complexity and cost of transactions.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are another key use case for the blockchain. These are property deeds that bind property to a person. Each title is not interchangeable (non-fungible), in order to guarantee the uniqueness of the acquired asset. The blockchain here fully fulfills its role as “digital notary“. Also in this case, the practical and economic side of the blockchain inspires the main players. 27 European countries have thus come together under the aegis of the EBP (European Blockchain Partnership), to create a common blockchain for the public sector. The European Commission cites the possible use cases of this blockchain: “notarization»Stages of a compliance audit, enhanced certification of diplomas, decentralized management of the digital identity of European citizens, etc.
Another promising use of the blockchain is traceability. In this sector, the most advanced agri-food producers are, with the aim of avoiding, as far as possible, any new health scandal, promoting transparency, which is a source of trust.
Initiatives in this area are sometimes isolated, such as that of the French Nataïs, European champion of popcorn, which has created a private blockchain to guarantee the traceability of corn, from the farmer to the consumer. However, other players have preferred to federate around a common blockchain: the IBM Food Trust. There are prestigious companies, such as Walmart, Nestlé or – in France – the Carrefour group.
Gradually, Carrefour integrated its Carrefour quality line and Carrefour Bio products into the blockchain. By scanning a QR code it is possible to trace the path of a product. For a chicken, this provides access to information such as the incubation date of the egg that gave birth to the chicken, its farming method, its diet, its slaughter, distribution and storage conditions. At Nestlé, an experiment limited to a flagship product (puree Mousline) and a distributor (Carrefour) has been underway since April 2019. We can expect the Swiss multinational to rapidly expand the blockchain to other products.