Accenture and Mastercard launch blockchain-enabled supplier 'tip' scheme
Professional services firm Accenture has teamed with Mastercard and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch a new supply chain initiative that uses blockchain technology to encourage customers to "tip" small-scale growers and producers that are showcasing sustainable practices.
The new initiative, which also involves technology firm Everledger and humanitarian aid organisation Mercy Corps, aims to directly reward sustainable practices at the base of a supply chain. Blockchain and digital identity technologies are used so that when a consumer scans a product label, they can access details of how that product was made and can make a direct payment to individuals further down the supply chain.
Accenture’s managing director and global blockchain lead David Treat said: “Our identity capabilities are already empowering millions of users around the globe to access essential services like healthcare, banking and travel. Our circular supply chain capability combines these components with blockchain and expands its application to places and things, which is allowing us to rethink global supply chains.”
“Through effective public and private partnerships, we can place sustainability and customer empowerment at the heart of global business models, and we invite more partners to join us.”
Data about the “first mile” – including growing and cultivating practices - of a product is collected through the initiative and linked to the product as it moves across the supply chain. The new scheme aims to connect consumers with these small-scale suppliers, hence the “circular” aspect of the initiative.
The initiative also enables producers, manufacturers and retailers to better manage inventories and reduce waste while boosting transparency across the supply chain. As for small-scale suppliers, it is hoped that financial incentives will encourage more responsible and sustainable production processes.
Mastercard’s executive vice president, humanitarian and development, Tara Nathan said: “For the 3.4 billion people — almost half the world’s population — that still struggle to meet basic needs, we believe that digital technologies are largely untapped. To put more people onto the path from poverty to prosperity, we need to create an ecosystem that streamlines access to education, health, commerce, and more.
“Through our work with smallholder farmers in Kenya, India, Mexico and elsewhere, we’ve deployed digital solutions helping to drive commercially sustainable social impact — and we understand that collaboration is essential for this journey.”
Technological building blocks
Blockchain creates a verifiable audit trail that can be used for any transaction and has already had a transformation impact on business-led sustainability impacts.
Earlier this month, for example, international food and drink firm Princes unveiled a sweeping new set of measures to make its supply chain practices more sustainable, including a pledge to use blockchain to ensure workers' rights are protected.
Elsewhere, the likes of Unilever, Sainsbury’s, Nestle and Walmart are currently investigating how blockchain can be used to minimise sustainability risks in food supply chains and reward sustainable farming practices.
The technology is also being used to offset supply chain emissions. Unilever-owned ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's is piloting a carbon offsetting scheme using blockchain technology for all purchases.
edie has rounded up eight of the most notable ways companies have been using blockchain to spur their sustainability actions. Read the full list here.