For a while now, supply chain management has been proposed as one of blockchain technology’s foremost corporate use cases. Indeed, the decentralized ledger division at IBM, which sports a massive team over of 1,000 individuals, has focused its efforts heavily in this area.
Analysts suggest that the application of blockchain in this arena can iron out kinks in shipping, decrease the chance of losing products, eliminate bad actors in the chain, among other benefits. Theoretically, this should result in cheaper products for consumers and a better margin for manufacturers.
On Tuesday, this entire subsector took a massive leap forward with news that Walmart’s China division and other big name partners had joined hands with VeChain, a crypto startup with roots in the nation.
VeChain is Now Working With Walmart
Announced via a press release, Walmart China, which presides over 424 retail stores, is now working with VeChain. The two partners join China Chain-Store & Franchise, a retail consortium that purportedly has 1,000+ members; Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a “Big Four” auditor; and the Inner Mongolia Kerchin, an Asian cattle company. Together, the companies involved form what is now known as the “Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform”, or WCBTP for short.
We are proud to announce that the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform is now powered by VeChainThor Blockchain!
— VeChain Foundation (@vechainofficial) June 25, 2019
Through this partnership, unveiled at a Chinese conference for product safety and traceability, the WCBTP has already begun to track an unnamed 23 “product lines”. While this doesn’t sound impressive, especially considering that Walmarts sell thousands of consumer products and types of food, the bloc intends to expand its horizons in the near future.
More specifically, the WCBTP partners intend to add another 100 product lines, including fresh meats, rice, mushrooms, and so on, to be tracked on VeChain’s Thor ledger by the “end of the year”.
By the end of 2020 — just over 18 months away — the collective wants to trace 50% of packaged fresh meat, 40% of packaged vegetables, and 12.5% of packaged seafood that Walmart China sells through blockchain technologies.
It is unclear how much of Walmart China’s revenues will be tied to the blockchain, but it will likely range in the millions if it fulfills its goals. So, what exactly does the WCBTP bring to the table for consumers?
Per the release, this partnership has been completed in a bid to “implement a traceability strategy for products and pioneer the large-scale application of blockchain traceability.” With this proposed system, consumers will be able to scan QR/barcodes on blockchain-enabled products to find out information about said products, including the source of the good, logistics process, quality assurance data, and “many more data points.”
This focus on blockchain-verifiable supply chain technologies in China may have much to do with the country’s checkered history with fake products. You see, back in 2008, there was a massive scandal with milk and baby formula, which saw certain food materials and components be contaminated with a harmful substance.
An estimated 54,000 babies were hospitalized by that incident. This led to immense skepticism both locally and abroad about Chinese food products, hence why Walmart China and other large names in retail are trying to amend these fears.
Despite Crypto Ban, Bitcoin is on the Rise in China
VeChain’s monumental partnership comes as Bitcoin has quietly returned to the public spotlight, despite the fact that cryptocurrency trading is technically banned in the country. As spotted recently by local insider cnLedger, data from Kuchuan and Qimai, some of the nation’s most notably data service providers, reveals that Huobi is now the 7th “hottest searched keyword” in the Chinese App Store.
Simultaneously, the founder of Chinese technology giant Tencent, has publicly commented on Facebook’s Libra, likely sparking even more hype about cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Bulls are back? According to online data service providers (such as Qimai and Kuchuan), crypto app Huobi is now the 7th hottest searched keyword in Chinese iOS App Store.
— cnLedger (@cnLedger) June 24, 2019