Blockchain is often derided as a solution to a problem. But beneath the crypto scams and Web3 utopianism lie some intriguing use cases.
Some of the most powerful applications are in traceability. When embedded in supply chains, blockchain can track the entire product lifecycle from origin to consumption. Because the technology provides permanent, indelible and unalterable records, extensive item and transaction data can be securely stored and authenticated.
The benefits are particularly attractive in the food sector. A pilot by British startup Provenance has used blockchain and smart tagging to track illegal tuna fishing, seafood scams and forced labour. In addition to ensuring ethical practices, the program demonstrates the potential of blockchain for auditing businesses, fighting counterfeiting and reducing administrative costs.
In Wales, blockchain experts have found another promising target for traceability: halal meat. A British startup for the first time in Europe iov42 is developing a data-sharing platform that provides secure records of compliance with Halal standards – which fraudulent products often violate.
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The perpetrators range from individual entrepreneurs to international organized crime groups. One of the most notorious transgressions occurred in 2020, when a Malaysian “meat cartel” was uncovered that bribed customs officials, distributed meat from uncertified slaughterhouses, and passed off kangaroo and horse meat as halal beef.
The scandal sparked an outcry in Malaysia – where Muslims make up around 60% of the population – and across the Islamic world. It also threatened to cause serious financial problems. Malaysia aspired to become a global hub for the US$2.3 trillion Halal market and has already exported US$9 billion worth of Halal certified products.
iov42 believes blockchain can reduce the risk of such crimes. By tracing products from farm to fork, the company aims to provide embedding origin trackingStrengthen certification systems and increase impartiality in the Halal market.
“Our technology was designed to improve traceability in industries like this,” said David Coleman, chief product officer at iov42.
To bring the project to life, iov42 is working with certification experts from Prime UK, a Cardiff-based compliance services provider. Last week, the companies announced that they had received a cash injection from the Welsh Government’s Blockchain Demonstrator Challenge Fund.
The state program was created to develop the local blockchain sector. If the Halal project is a success, it could be a rare example of the real-world benefits blockchain can bring to Wales.