Nadia Hewett (first from right) alongside Ashley Lannquist, Ana Trbovich, Eva Kaili, and Meltem Demirors at the WEF's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China, on September 18, 2018
Nadia Hewett (first from right) alongside Ashley Lannquist, Ana Trbovich, Eva Kaili, and Meltem Demirors at the WEF's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China, on September 18, 2018. World Economic Forum

With the continuous spread of COVID-19, our economy is going through some very difficult times upon which some underrated problems finally get the attention they deserve. Today, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published the “Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Deployment Toolkit”, which addresses the way supply chains work.

Due to various smaller issues, the shipment of goods is still relying more on paper-related methods, rather than being modernized. The global pandemic exhibited the weak spots of this methodology with both empty shelves and food becoming garbage. WEF started to work on a way to improve the situation way back, in September 2018, and the 244-page guide is their proposal – solution.

Distributed as a PDF document and an online service, their research is exactly on point. It epitomizes a step-by-step procedure on how to bring together an ecosystem of members where all will benefit from a shared, distributed ledger.

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“Redesigning Trust: A Blockchain Deployment Tool Kit” encompasses interviews among 20 governments and 80 public and private companies and includes guided questions, checklists, and risk assessments on data privacy and tax concerns, governance, cybersecurity, public-private chains, digital identity, and interoperability.

The head of the project and lead of the forum’s blockchain work, Nadia Hewett, illustrates the research as a combination of “nascent insights and failures,” which should eventually result in hundreds of proofs-of-concepts and shared:

“Those proofs-of-concept are now being taken up and dusted off again. And I do think that this time what we’re seeing with this pandemic, there’s going to be a lot more momentum to really make sure that things that should have been taken care of during other supply chain disruptions are really taken seriously this time.”

The authors interviewed some past Blockchain 50 list members such as the United Nations World Food Program, Bumble Bee Foods, and Maersk, among others. With their help, the report depicts what a blockchain-based minimum viable ecosystem (MVE) would look like. It includes just one retailer, a wholesale plant, a distribution center, a bank, a retail plant, and a regulator. Such blockchain-enabled supply chain would provide real-time data on the supplies location and identify any bottlenecks or shortages right on time.

Although Hewett expects that “it’s not going to solve it all,” she believes that “it absolutely has features that can help with issues that’s typical in epidemics and pandemics”.

As she added, blockchain’s peer-to-peer immutability can certainly resolve the emerging problem with fake masks.

The tool kit was tested by five partners prior to its release, among which the official Saudi Arabian Oil Company – Saudi Aramco. Nabil Alnuaim, its chief digital officer noted that its guidance was “drawn from an unparalleled community of business and technology experts”.

As WEF partnered with both government entities and private firms, the toolkit tries to provide helpful advice to as many organizations as possible because public and private sector collaboration is critical. As Hewett pointed out:

“You can use it to navigate end-to-end for deployment guidance, you can choose the specific topic of interest for you or your team.”

As the toolkit is public it will convey collective deployment experiences to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and thus reduce costs and time for blockchain implementation.

Hewett concluded:

“We can put this in the hands of those parts of the world, those parts of the supply chains, where they’re not empowered with information to negotiate good positions for themselves. We really hope to see this put power back in the hands of those SMEs.”

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