Blockchain firm Viant announces supply chain collaborations

Blockchain firm Viant has announced collaborations with five companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and the World Wide Fund for Nature, to accelerate the use of the track and trace technology in supply chains.

The five companies also include energy firm Imaginea, Microsoft, and an oil and gas supermajor company.

The firms, which are described as a “select group of disruptive industry leaders”, have been quietly participating in a beta programme that was launched by Viant in the third quarter of last year. The programme involves the companies modelling processes and assets on Viant’s Ethereum blockchain-based supply chain platform to “improve transparency, better comply with regulations, and unlock business value”.

Blockchain is the technology that underpins the digital currency bitcoin and is essentially a digital database of time-stamped records or transactions, which is becoming increasingly popular as a track and trace tool for physical supply chains, notably in food as seen with the IBM food firm consortium that was announced last year.

The Viant platform leverages this cryptographic security to provide transparent supply chain insights.

“Viant is a platform with the tooling to turbocharge the journey from use case ideas to blockchain solutions,” Kishore Atreva, Viant co-founder, said in a statement, adding that the platform supports business processes, provides basic asset-tracking mechanics and paves the way for advanced supply chain commerce features.

“The Viant beta participants are at the forefront of innovation and have demonstrated their leadership in each of their respective industries by building real blockchain solutions using the Viant platform,” Tyler Mulvihill, co-founder and global business development at Viant, told the publication Supply Chain Dive. “Blockchain will follow the course of traditional technology intake by large organisations and we expect to see some of our customers move to pilot and production applications in 2018.”

The WWF will be using the Viant platform to track fish from catch to plate to prove provenance and ensure seafood sustainability, while GSK will use the blockchain technology to provide transparency and tracking around the global use of its technology licenses and physical products. Imaginea is focusing on zero carbon emissions for responsible production and use of fossil fuels, while the unnamed oil and gas supermajor will move the current legacy crude oil nomination process to a blockchain-based system to streamline the process. Microsoft, meanwhile, is an early champion of Viant and has contributed the Azure technology to the system.

According to Viant, which is a ConsenSys company, the programme has provided each participant with a dedicated platform deployed on Microsoft Azure and managed by the Viant team.

What records are uploaded to the platform are up to the companies and could be in video, RFID or QR code form, for instance.

The beta programme is now being further explored so that the companies can build pilots and production systems based on the blockchain technology.

“Viant allows analysts in organisations the ability to model their supply chain processes and assets, click a button, and automatically generate a clean user interface and back-end smart contracts on an Ethereum platform,” ConsenSys founder and co-founder of Ethereum Joseph Lubin said in a statement. “But we are moving beyond this to create domain-specific languages so that analysts in specific industries can more easily construct these processes and eventually move them around, link and relink them, like puzzle pieces, to model, build and fluidly reconfigure their supply chains of the future on blockchain.”

Viant is now looking to bring on board the next set of companies to the programme.

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