Global technology giant IBM has launched their blockchain-powered TrustChain, a solution that will enhance the much-needed factor of trust in the jewelry industry. IBM is partnering with major players in the jewelry industry, for e.g. Asahi Refining, Helzberg Diamonds, LeachGarner, and Richline group in this project.
Jewelry industry is a high-value, high-profile industry all over the world. However, it’s also plagued by disturbing reports of procuring diamonds and precious metals using unethical deals done with oppressive regimes and powerful gangs of organized criminals. A lot of the mining of diamond and precious metals happen in violence-prone countries where oppressive regimes maintain substandard working conditions in the mines and use slave labor. There are reports of unsustainable mining, too.
With democratization of information, consumers of jewelry are increasingly wary about buying jewelry that was produced with unethically sourced gems or precious metal. However, the supply chain, widely spread geographically, doesn’t provide a lot of transparency. The current supply chain assurance process in the jewelry industry is largely paper-based. Middlemen working at multiple layers manipulating documents don’t allow much confidence in data, and consumers don’t have information of how gems were procured.
A technology solution that can eliminate the middlemen and their control over the flow of information, and ensure immutable records, can help in bringing in much-needed transparency in this industry. IBM‘s choice of blockchain is wise, because the technology ensures decentralization and immutable records by design.
IBM‘s TrustChain is built on IBM‘s enterprise blockchain, and is a permissioned blockchain. The partners using the solution will need to allow a participant to join the network, and that will be done using the identity verification process of the organization the new node represents. Partners representing various stages of the supply chain will jointly record the life-cycle of the gem or precious metal on the blockchain. This way, TrustChain will have the traceability of jewelry from mine to the consumer. The system will have a mobile app, which a consumer can use, to scan the QR code on the package of a jewelry, and she will access a trusted chain on the TrustChain see whether the gem or precious metal was sourced ethically.
IBM, headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA, has done significant work on blockchain technology already even before this project, and had made important contribution to Hyperledger project. They are also formulating their entry into the crypto space.
Blockchain is increasingly becoming important for supply chain assurance, for e.g.:
- Oslo, Norway-based risk management company DNV GL has partnered with VeChain for powering their risk assurance business with blockchain;
- German automaker BMW is using blockchain to ensure they source only cleanly procured Cobalt in the batteries of their electric vehicles;
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is spearheading a blockchain project to improve transparency in the Tuna fishing industry in The Pacific Islands, which is expected to reduce illegal fishing and slavery.