No forgery? Blockchain knows

Published on 27/02/2020 in Innovate

No forgery? Blockchain knows

Blockchain has existed for 10 years but is still not all that well known, even though it could revolutionize the retail sector: for food security, traceability and in the fight against forgery.

What exactly is blockchain?

Bernard Lenssens, Chief Innovation Officer at Codit: “It is actually a database in which you share all the data with all the parties involved. The technology increases the trust between all partners who work together. It happens a lot that business partners need an independent third party opinion to capture / validate / support their relationship of trust.”

“A third party can be expensive; blockchain allows you to go without one. Thanks to blockchain, all the partners in the chain, from the farm to the storekeeper, know what they are buying, where the goods go, where the ingredients come from and how fresh the product is.”

Julien Marlair, Business Consultant Integrated Business Applications at Proximus: “Blockchain is technology that best proves its worth in ecosystems. Each partner can add data to the blockchain actively and in a reliable and transparent manner. Blockchain is not the visible part of a business application. You can look at it as a technology that functions behind the scenes.”

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How important is blockchain for the retail sector?

Bernard: “An awful lot of partners are involved in the retail sector. Wherever you are in the chain as a company, blockchain is as important for you as for all other partners. It is the link between the farm and the food that the consumer has on his or her plate.”

Julien: “All partners in the retail chain have to work with one another. Blockchain is the key component of an end-to-end service that creates trust between all parties. By exchanging and sharing information in a fully transparent way, you gain each other’s trust and prevent foul play. And because so many partners are involved in a retail chain, retail is one of the sectors that gets most value out of the technology.”

How can retail companies use blockchain?

Bernard: “An example makes things clear straight away. By placing an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor in a container, you increase the traceability of products and monitor their freshness. When a product leaves the warehouse, it is still fresh and in good condition. As soon as the loading process begins, it becomes difficult. Especially in summer. With a sensor in the container you can monitor the temperature and humidity of the container in real time, until the moment the yoghurt is delivered to the supermarket. That way, you see everything that happens during transport.”

Julien: “You can virtually never resolve a problem like this with only blockchain. There are always technologies like IoT, data, application front-ends, etc. that help. So you have to integrate a technology partner.”

As a retailer, blockchain gives you a better view of the origin of the product that you sell, in a transparent and ethical manner.

Julien Marlair, Business Consultant Integrated Business Applications at Proximus

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Bernard: “Companies that do not use blockchain regularly have disputes with other partners in the chain. Thanks to blockchain, you clearly see the latest transactions. It enables you to agree on rules beforehand and then lay them down in a smart contract.”

Julien: “You can use blockchain in various other ways, as well. For instance, integrate it into your loyalty program and share the points that your customers collect with other partners. So your customers can use the points that they save in other stores. It encourages them to save even more. With blockchain, you can also prove the authenticity of your product. Suppose you sell a second-hand watch to someone. With blockchain you can prepare a certificate bearing the names of all previous owners. So purchasers can see that the watch has never been stolen.”

What are the advantages of blockchain?

Julien: “At least three parties benefit from blockchain: the customer, the supplier and the retailer. For the customer, blockchain makes everything transparent. So the product has more value for them and they buy with confidence. As a supplier, you can vastly improve your organization and become more efficient. As a retailer, thanks to blockchain you have a better idea of the origin of the products you sell, and you build more trust by selling a monitored and ethical product.”

With blockchain you know what you are buying, where the products go, where the ingredients come from and how fresh the products are.

Bernard Lenssens, Chief Innovation Officer at Codit

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What are the advantages of blockchain?

Bernard: “The key questions that you need to ask yourself are these: are the data that I have reliable? How sensitive are they? And who will I share them with?”

Julien: “Everything revolves around the ecosystem that you are part of. You have to ask yourself whether you want to be more efficient. And whether you are interested in taking on the role of leader in that ecosystem. Because this way you will save a lot of costs and the whole process is far more transparent.”

Bernard: “With blockchain, you build a consortium with the various partners. You agree with them on what the rules are and what data you share with one another. It’s best to start on this well in advance, because it takes time to set up a consortium like this.”

Codit is a partner of Proximus and Microsoft, operates in seven European countries and has 180 employees. The technology company has focused on enterprise application integration (EAI) since it launched in 2000. Codit connects applications and companies with one another, among other things, by designing Azure cloud solutions and IoT-as-a-service-solutions. Via blockchain, Codit helps companies to track food from the farm to the retailer. www.codit.eu

Bernard Lenssens is an electronic data interchange (EDI) consultant who founded Codit in 2000. He has been Chief Innovation Officer there since 2011. He lives and breathes integration and the Internet of Things and puts them into practice for you.

Julien Marlair began his career as a network engineer with ASTRID, the telecom operator for the emergency services. He has worked for Proximus since 2012 and he develops technological solutions for companies.

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