At the recent Hyperledger Global Forum in Phoenix, Arizona, Digital Asset Live Editor-in-Chief talked to Dr Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger, one the world’s leading blockchain based traceability platforms. Further to Everledger, Leanne co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing, and is on the IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors.
Q1: Everledger aims to trace and protect items along the supply chain. What does protection mean in this context?
A1: Blockchain technology allows data to be recorded securely and unalterably as an asset (such as a diamond, an artwork, a bottle of wine) moves along the supply chain. By converging this record with other technologies such as AI and IoT, we can create a unique digital identity for the asset and make it available to all stakeholders in the value chain. The resulting lift in transparency, confidence and trust lays the foundation for whole industries to advance.
Everledger’s platform is built on the fundamentals of private blockchains, where firms need the ability to share data securely and apply smart contracts, while also retaining privacy. Data is divided into privacy tiers, so a stakeholder can withhold sensitive data attributes, while allowing transparency on others. Our solutions are designed for enterprise, enabling them to streamline processes to provide consumers with unprecedented transparency.
Q2: If you were to explain how your project functions to an outsider, how would you do it? Would you perhaps provide a real life example?
A2: Everledger is an independent technology company helping businesses surface and converge asset information, using a symphony of secure technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, intelligent labelling and Internet of Things.
Our solutions are designed for businesses and consumers, enabling businesses to streamline processes while providing consumers with unprecedented transparency.
Across the diamond industry, for example, the Everledger blockchain platform integrates and surfaces data from miners, manufacturers, certification houses and retailers, ultimately enabling them to drive a positive social and environmental impact. Consumers have direct access to independent information of a diamond’s characteristics and ownership record via desktop or mobile. For example, US-based retailer Fred Meyer Jewelers uses the Everledger platform to show the journey of its diamonds in its RockSolid collection, which it will extend across 100 stores, starting October.
Q3: What is the current state of the project?
A3: It has been live for many years, as we have created the first solution for the diamond industry using blockchain to add provenance information to the industry’s compliance processes. Since then, we have expanded to other industries: gemstones, wine and spirits, luxury goods and apparel, art, insurance, and more recently, circular economy with traceability of lithium-ion batteries and other materials critical for recycling and re-use.
Q4: What cannot be traced by DLTs?
A4: Distributed Ledger Technology has great potential. It is already used in Finance and Trade, Public voting, goods tracking, certifications, compliance mechanisms and digital identity and there are many more sectors that will face disruption through DLTs in the coming years.
If there is a way to create a digital twin of an object, for instance by tagging it with an RFID chip or NFC tag, or another method, that object will be able to be tracked digitally on the blockchain.
Q5: Do you target individual producers or rather industrial consortia? Why?
A5: Everledger targets industry primarily, but we have also been working with the US Department of Energy on two pilots around circular economy. Our purpose is to contribute greater clarity and confidence in the marketplaces where transparency is a strategic imperative.
Blockchain’s security and anonymity allows companies to share information with each other and their customers in a decentralised database, thus creating a clearer picture of the lifecycle of every product. In a contentious world, blockchain can help to form consensus and mutual trust.
Q6: Many use the word ‘disruption’ in blockchain adoptions. What are you going to disrupt? Do you see Everledger as a disruptor?
A6: We have already created a new paradigm in two of the industries we have been collaborating with, diamonds and gemstones. When we started, nobody was talking about provenance, which is the information around the origin and characteristics of an object. We opened up a whole new world, but we haven’t done it alone. A very close understanding and partnership with the industry is absolutely fundamental to being successful. We approach these challenges with the utmost aim of supporting industries to become more transparent and sustainable. Working in tandem with industry partners is paramount.
Q7: Where do you see Everledger in 2 years from now, and in 5 years from now?
A7: We will focus on strengthening our deliveries for the key industries we currently work with: jewellery, apparel, wine and e-waste. I see opportunities to solidify our presence in these industries, while adding more industry partners.
Our purpose is to contribute greater transparency, trust, sustainability as well as amazing customer experiences in marketplaces where provenance matters most. We have recently received a substantial investment by an internet company from China, for our series A round, so the huge opportunities that China can bring on those fronts will also become an important focus point for the whole team in the next few years.