Blockchain in the supermarkets! Co-op adopts Bitcoin database tech for food authenticity testing

Britian’s Co-op supermarket is trialing blockchain ledger technology in order to ensure that supermarkets and consumers can be sure that food labeling is correct. In conjunction with blockchain startup Provenance, the project hails what is being termed a “fairtrade digital age.” Far out, man.

Britain is, and has been for many years, the world’s leader in financial technology, especially within the institutional and banking sectors.

What began as fringe technologies are now being embraced by London’s multi-faceted FinTech boom, with several million dollars being poured into the development of blockchain by large institutions including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, HSBC and even management consultancies such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Although the origins of blockchain couldn’t be further removed from the plate glass corporate world of long-standing financial and banking entities, insofar as that instead of being founded by 19th century merchants with immaculately waxed moustaches and mahogany walking sticks forged from rainforest wood imported from the colonies, blockchain is the product of semi-anarchic members of the public whose virtual peer to peer currency Bitcoin, to which blockchain is inexorably linked, was initially invented in order to circumvent the very institutions that now embrace it.

Blockchain in terms of functionality is a continuously growing list of records which is secured from tampering or revision.

It consists of data structure blocks that may contain data or programs with each block holding batches of individual transactions and the results of any blockchain executables. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. The blockchain database was originally designed in 2008 and first implemented in 2009 and is the main technical innovation of Bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for bitcoin transactions, and by nature cannot be separated from Bitcoin.

Bitcoin may be a folly, and has a chequered past littered with exchange demises, e-wallet hacks and criminal litigation against exchange owners and dark web marketplace operators, however the blockchain technology has forged a very stable and institutional future for the virtual currency, with massive venture capital interest from large mainstream firms having taken it to prosperity, including a record $116 million investment in blockchain technology developer 21 Inc two years ago.

In terms of how its original inventor may perceive its market popularity, it is rather like buying a Mars bar, opening it, throwing the Mars bar away and then keeping the wrapper.

Bank and professional services interest in blockchain has been commonplace for two years now, the technical development direction being toward automating certain bank tasks such as ledger, as well as cross border payment and settlement.

Today, a new sector has become interested in developing blockchain, that being retail food supermarkets in Britain.

The Co-op, one of Britain’s mainstream supermarkets, has begun exploring how blockchain technology can be used to prove the authenticity of its food, beginning with a project that sounds as though it was cultivated by festival-going hippies rather than technologists or supermarket industrialists – “fairtrade digital age”. Groovy (or whatever the parlance used by jostick-toting hemp-wearers is these days).

The supermarket is working with early stage blockchain startup Provenance to investigate how its technology can be used to track that its produce comes from sustainable sources in what’s thought to be the first trial of its kind by a major retailer.

Provenance, which is about to embark on a series A funding round after initial government funding, has just completed a pilot project proving the viability of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology for digitally tracking tuna through the supply chain – from catch to plate.

In this particular project, which essentially creates a publicly immutable ledger of transactions, supermarkets and consumers will be able to ensure that claims made on food labels are correct.

In addition, the company envisions the wider application for monitoring the provenance of other items such as fashion and is already in discussions with luxury retailers about potential use cases.

Provenance is also working with smaller firms, offering a type of plug and play service that lets shops and producers prove the artisanal or craft nature of their products by creating a digitally based history which consumers are able to view via a smartphone.

“Co-op is very progressive in view of what a supermarket should be, and is pioneering with blockchain in the same way that it has been with Fairtrade and most supermarkets are realizing that sustainability is an issue, whether that’s pressure from government or consumers, especially after something like the horsemeat scandal” said Provenance founder Jessi Baker on the launch of the project.

An interesting development, and yet another use for blockchain which further secures its future.

Read this next

Retail FX

Malaysia regulator exposes OctaFX clone, shady FB profiles

Malaysia’s financial regulator today warned online investors about the risks of following investment tips made on social-media platforms.

Digital Assets

Crypto trading volume spikes at Swiss bourse amid FTX collapse

The shockwaves from the historic collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire are still being felt across the industry, but some trading venues are actually doing better because of it.

Executive Moves

CMC Markets adds Camilla Boldracchi to institutional sales

UK’s biggest spread better, CMC Markets has promoted Camilla Boldracchi to take on an expanded role within its institutional sales desk.

Institutional FX

FXSpotStream reports $1.48 trillion in monthly volume for November

FXSpotStream’s trading venue, the aggregator service of LiquidityMatch LLC, reported its operational metrics for November 2022, which moved higher on a yearly basis but reflected weak performance across executed trade volumes when weighed against the figures of the prior month.

Retail FX

Interactive Brokers’ client activity drops 30% YoY

Interactive Brokers LLC (NASDAQ:IBKR) saw 1.95 million daily average revenue trades, or DARTS, in November 2022 compared to 1.96 million transactions in the prior month.

Digital Assets

The rise of Crypto ETPs in traditional exchanges as crypto winter deepens

Institutional investors are increasingly looking at traditional regulated exchanges as their first route into digital assets amid market turmoil caused by the crypto winter and the collapse of several big names within the space, including FTX. Acuiti and Eurex surveyed 191 buy and sell-side firms on their views of the digital assets markets in order […]

Digital Assets

TP ICAP’s crypto arm receives FCA’s go-ahead

UK interdealer broker TP ICAP has received a regulatory go-ahead to launch its cryptocurrency services in the UK. The bid shows that the recent collapse of FTX exchange has done little to damp the interest of big names in running their own crypto business.

Industry News

Coin Signals founder to pay $2,847,743 after prison sentence over crypto Ponzi scam

The U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered Jeremy Spence, founder of Coin Signals, to pay $2,847,743 in restitution to victims of a fraudulent virtual currency scheme.

Digital Assets

CME Group goes DeFi: Reference rates and real-time indices of Aave, Curve, Synthetix

“These rates are designed to provide traders, institutions and other users transparency and price discovery across a much broader range of tokens, allowing them to confidently and more accurately value cryptocurrency sector specific portfolios and manage price risk around various blockchain-based projects.”

<