Impact of Blockchain on Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

Written By Andrew Tan Howe, MSIPMM

by Andrew Tan Howe, MSIPMM

Impact of Blockchain on Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

Written By Andrew Tan Howe, MSIPMM

by Andrew Tan Howe, MSIPMM

by Andrew Tan Howe, MSIPMM

Blockchain technology offers new tools for authentication and authorization in the digital world that preclude the need for many centralized administrators. As a result, it enables the creation of new digital relationships.

This technology provides potential to upend the way every industry manages its information and data and financial services. Examples are Legal, Supply Chain, Government, Energy, Food, Retail, Healthcare, Insurance, Travel and Hospitality & Education sectors.

Blockchain for every industry

Picture extracted from Jeremiah Owyang. NewCo Shift. (2017)

Application Areas of Blockchain Technology

1. Legal

“Smart contracts” stored on the blockchain track contract parties, terms, transfer of ownership, and delivery of goods/ services without legal intervention.

2. Supply Chain

By utilizing a distributed ledger, companies within a supply chain gain transparency into shipment tracking, deliveries, and progress among other suppliers where no inherent trust exists.

3. Government

Blockchain offers promise as a technology to store personal identity information, criminal backgrounds, and “e-citizenship,” authorized by biometrics.

4. Energy

Decentralized energy transfer and distribution are possible via micro-transactions of data sent to blockchain, validated, and re-dispersed to the grid while securing payment to the submitter.

5. Food

Using blockchain to store food supply chain data offers enhanced traceability of product origin, batching, processing, expiration, storage temperatures, and shipping.

6. Retail

Secure P2P marketplaces can track P2P retail transactions, with product information, shipment, and bills of lading input on the blockchain, and payments made via Bitcoin.

7. Healthcare

Electronic medical records stored in a blockchain, accessed and updated via biometrics, allow for the democratization of patient data and alleviate the burden of transferring records among providers.

8. Insurance

When autonomous vehicles and other smart devices communicate status updates with insurance providers via the blockchain, premium costs decrease as the need for auditing and authenticating data vanishes.

9. Travel and Hospitality

Passengers store their authenticated “single travel ID” on the blockchain for use in lieu of travel documents, identification cards, loyalty program IDs, and payment data.

10. Education

Educational institutions could utilize the blockchain to store credentialing data around assessments, degrees, and transcripts.

How Blockchain enhances the Supply Chain

Many of today’s supply chains span countless stages and many geographic locations, making it hard to track goods or trace the origin of incidents. Blockchain dramatically enhances transparency, enabling all parties to trace a product’s journey along the supply chain.

If a restaurant or a grocer can quickly identify all parties involved in the supply of sensitive or high-value categories, they could potentially save significant amounts of time and money with dates, locations of inspection, and inspection results all visible in the distributed ledger.

Wal-Mart is trialling blockchain to address this exact problem. By tracking the provenance and supply chain journey of individual packages of produce and pork, they aim to pinpoint and prevent outbreaks of illness.

A blockchain database enables Wal-Mart to acquire vast amounts of supply chain data that the company can use to deliver food to stores more efficiently, reduce spoilage and waste, and cut costs.

Secure Tracking using Cryptography

Blockchain is a decentralized ledger that tracks transactions in a secure way using cryptography to make modifications almost impossible. The popularity of Bitcoin has been fuelling a speculative bubble in the stock market as investors keep throwing money at all companies using blockchain in the hopes of finding the new Bitcoin unicorn. It is seen as a possible way of reinforcing trust and security and accelerating business processes, removing the human element.

Many governments, tech giants and businesses are starting to experiment with this technology. There are arguments that it could help tackle food fraud, boost trust in business transactions and accelerate operational processes.

Four Opportunities for Blockchain in Retail

1. Consumer Payments

Crypto-currencies have the potential to solve some real problems in the consumer financial world. The transaction costs of being outside that system can be very high, especially when you’re talking about immigrants sending money back home. High transaction costs constrain a market. That’s basic economics in the sense that a high price for a good or service depresses demand for the good or service.

2. Product Pedigree

Blockchain makes it possible for every legitimate touch in a supply chain – from a supplier to a manufacturer to a shipper – to add a verifiable record to an item’s pedigree. This has applications like making it harder to pass off that Hermes or Louis Vuitton bag as “genuine” when it’s not. It makes country of origin labelling and product safety tracking easier in things, whereby blockchain makes it possible to record every touchpoint in the lifespan of a product as it moves through the supply chain. This can also be adapted to ensure confidence in resale markets.

3. B2B Payments

One of the biggest challenges for crypto-currencies is acceptance as a real currency. Banks would have to be willing to hold crypto-currencies as deposits, and participate in exchanging crypto-currencies for cold, hard cash. Outside of banking, blockchain is being proposed more in terms of “smart contracts”, basically private blockchain that update automatically over time, recording all of the actions taken in regard to the contract, whether the buyer, the seller, or third parties acting on either party’s behalf.

4. Digital Advertising

The problem in the AdTech space is speed. Blockchain as it exists is very secure, but it’s not very fast. It’s not fast enough for the real-time market bids that happen in digital. While there are some proofs of concept and some initial efforts, there aren’t a lot of “solutions” in this space, unlike with supply chain tracking or even B2B payments.

How Blockchain Reshape the Future

Blockchain is not a ‘disruptive’ technology, which can attack a traditional business model with a lower-cost solution and overtake incumbent firms quickly. Blockchain is a foundational technology. It has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems.

The future of finance could be dominated by blockchain technologies. A traceable global currency complete with an efficient infrastructure will not only result in massive cost reduction for all market participants, it will change global banking.

Nasdaq will launch blockchain-enabled digital ledger technology that will be used to expand and enhance the equity management capabilities offered by its Nasdaq Private Market platform.

1. Control

Small businesses could use blockchain to create trusted trading platforms among themselves. Blockchain could potentially help bring robustness and transparency to the post-trade environment.

2. Crime

A new blockchain start-up has claimed its software could help track down criminals faster and cheaper than ever. Connecticut are warning parents that a new Darknet cryptocurrency called Bitcoin could be to blame for helping underage drinkers to get buzzed.

3. Banks

Blockchain will be adopted by central banks and cryptographically secured currencies will become widely used. The future of finance in many nations could be dominated by Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology could be used to bypass today’s centralized financial infrastructure entirely.

4. Industries

Blockchain has the potential to create new industry opportunities and disrupt existing technologies and processes. It will make the world even smaller as it increases the speed and efficiency of transactional activity.

5. Government

Blockchain technology could be used to distribute social welfare in developing nations. Elections are currently an expensive and arduous. Thanks to blockchain technology they will soon be instantaneous.

Conclusion

To conclude, Blockchain is an emerging technology that will enhance the supply chain for all industries soon. There will be unavoidable obstacles but, industries will soon adapt to the changes as it is the direction for the future of technology.


References

Adrian Goh. MISPMM. (2017). “Blockchain Technology – The Next Revolution of Supply Chain”. Retrieved from https://sipmm.edu.sg/new-technologies-maritime-industry, accessed 10/03/¬2018.

Drew Prindle. Digital Trends. (2018). “Beyond Bitcoin: How Blockchain Will Reshape the Future.” Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/beyond-bitcoin-how-blockchain-will-reshape-the-future/, accessed 15/06/2018.

GlobalData Consumer. Drinks Insight Network. (2018). “Why Are FMCG Companies Getting Into Blockchain Technology?” Retrieved from https://www.drinks-insight-network.com/comment/fmcg-companies-getting-blockchain-technology/, accessed 15/06/2018.

Jeremiah Owyang. NewCo Shift. (2017). “Graphic: Blockchain For Every Industry.” Retrieved from https://shift.newco.co/graphic-blockchain-for-every-industry-dfcbdcfe23ea, accessed15/06/2018.

Nikki Baird. Forbes. (2017). “Blockchain and Retail: Four Opportunities.” Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nikkibaird/2017/08/09/blockchain-and-retail-four-opportunities/#a3e860e72bf7, accessed 15/06/2018.

Nina Lund. Microsoft Enterprise. (2017). “How Blockchain Can Transform the Consumer Goods Supply Chain.” Retrieved from https://enterprise.microsoft.com/en-us/articles/industries/retail-and-consumer-goods/blockchain-can-transform-consumer-goods-supply-chain/, accessed 15/06/2018.

Nolan Bauerle. Coindesk. (2018). “Why Use a Blockchain?”. Retrieved from https://www.coindesk.com/information/why-use-a-blockchain/,accessed 15/06/2018.

About the Author Andrew Tan Howe has substantial experience in the supply chain management of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). He holds the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) and is a qualified member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (MSIPMM). Andrew completed the Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (ADLSM) course on July 2018 at SIPMM Academy.

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