Supply chain tracking is one of the most promising use cases of blockchain technology. Geneva-based Wecan presented a tracking solution that aims at improving wine supply chain provenance and ownership documentation.

Viva Tech in Paris brings together tech startups and larger tech corporations to facilitate exchange and discussion around the best solutions for modern day challenges. The exhibition took place from 16th to 18th May. Switzerland was present for the second year with its own pavilion, featuring institutions and private companies related to the tech space and based in Switzerland.

In case the event becomes dry and boring, event participants could always step by the Swiss pavilion where Fabio Sofia was waiting with a few bottles of wine. Getting smashed at the Swiss pavilion in Paris? Why not, it’s been a long day.

But that’s not what Fabio Sofia was there for. He is a Managing Partner at Wecan, a Geneva-based blockchain startup that develops blockchain solutions with strategic partners. His mission at Viva Tech was to present Wecan Wine, a blockchain-based supply chain tracking solution.

Tracking wine from the grape to the glass

The idea is simple: All data relevant to the wine bottle is stored on a blockchain. The bottle comes with a scannable QR code, meaning anyone can scan the code and get access to the data.

That does two things: Firstly, it prevents buyers from buying counterfeit wine. Purchasers can check where, how, and when it was produced and thus understand the quality of the wine.

Secondly, the history of ownership gets documented. Buyers can track who owned the wine previously, how often it changed hands and at which prices it had been sold.

Now, all of that might not matter for those who buy wine for the sole purpose of enjoying an evening of joviality. But to investors who spend tens of thousands of dollars – or more – on a single bottle of wine, this information is highly relevant.

Blockchain use case supply chain: Adoption is key

Blockchain in supply chain management is a use case that goes way beyond wine, or the food industry in general. The transparency of blockchain systems and the immutability of data makes the technology ideal for tracing all sorts of goods.

Supply chain provenance becomes particularly relevant where quality and originality are of crititcal value to the end user. That’s usually the case if goods are an investment vehicle, for example wine or arts. In other cases, lack of quality might lead to catastrophic error, for example with drugs and pharmaceuticals, or airplane engines.

As Fabio Sofia from Wecan points out, it’s neither technologically sophisticated nor expensive to develop a blockchain-based supply chain tracking solution. The key, however, is adoption. For the system to work, all participants of the supply chain need to be involved and provide reliable and traceable data.

The value of blockchain is the immutability of data and its cost-effectiveness. That’s why the technology is better suited for supply chain tracking than centralized databases. But it’s not that supply chain tracking has not been possible so far, blockchain only provides a better way to do it.

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