Blockchains, the underlying technology behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, has real-world implications that far exceed that of payments. Since Blockchains enable us to make trustless transfers over the internet, they have used in almost every pre-existing industry to make their process more efficient and bring down costs. From the fashion industry to the pharmaceutical industry and even the food industry, nearly every industry that deals with manufacture and supply of products can benefit from a Blockchain’s trustless nature. Here’s a look at how Blockchains are useful for the food industry and restaurants.
Payments in Restaurants
Restaurants are already moving away from dealing cash directly to digital forms of payment like credit cards and apps like Venmo. The problem with this shift is the high costs of doing the transfer, ranging anywhere from 2-5%. These costs which are almost always paid by the restaurant owner, are caused due to the amount of customer support that credit card companies have to deal with. By contrast, all payments made via the Blockchain are irreversible, and therefore there is no need for any of the customer support. All of these benefits make it cheaper to transact with Blockchain based cryptocurrencies. More innovative tech like RaiBlocks and IOTA are working on an entirely new implementation of Blockchains which offer benefits like near instant, feeless transactions using a new data structure called Directed Acyclic Graphs. The benefits to restaurant owners are going to be immense as they don’t have to wait several days for settlement by their banks and no fees have to be paid to the credit card companies.
Ensuring Food Authenticity
A recent study focused on the food industry by Michigan State University determined that food fraud costs the food industry an estimated $40 billion every year. Food fraud is defined as the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food products for economic gain. There are numerous avenues for such adulteration to take place from sourcing of the raw materials to the final delivery of the product. Blockchains have a lot to offer here in the form of better tracking and accountability. Ripe, which is a new Blockchain startup that is working on the Blockchain of food believes there is room for much improvement in this sector. Ripe believes that the Blockchain could improve every aspect of the supply chain by digitizing it. Some of the services include farm origination data like information about the growing condition of crops. From then, as the food travels, all of the relevant information like factory conditions, batch numbers, expiration dates, storage, and shipping data could all be added to a batch of food items. This makes it easier for the end consumer to see how their food was produced and how it has traveled. Consumers are therefore more likely to feel that their food is authentic and there is more overall accountability in the system.
Efficient Supply Side Management
After payments, supply-side management is the most obvious use case for Blockchains as storing supply-side information on the Blockchain makes it tamper resistant. Corporations around the world lose billions of dollars every year in the manufacturing, transportation and retailing of goods from inefficiencies in the supply chain system. VeChain, one of the most extensive Blockchain based supply chain solutions, is working to improve how we manufacture and transport goods. VeChain has there own Blockchain that they use for storing of supply chain data. They also have in-house production of RFID (Radio-frequency identification) chips. VeChain believes that every stop in the supply chain nexus benefits from their RFID chips which are backed by their private Blockchain. VeChain, therefore allows corporations to track and authenticate their shipments every step of the way while bringing down the overall transportation cost.
Not only have they designed an efficient process of the management and transportation of goods, but they also have some high ranking partnerships with some of the largest corporations in the world. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have already joined an increasing number of corporations that are using Blockchains for increased efficiency. Other corporations including Nestle SA and Dole Food Co. are also looking to add this revolutionary new technology to their arsenal.