The World Economic Forum estimates that blockchain technology may account for as much as 10% of global GDP by 2027. 1
The food supply chain is the most complex and fragmented of all supply chains.1 It is therefore surprising that agricultural systems still rely on a number of manual processes, an example of such being the Co-operative system often found in small rural areas. The Co-op model is mainly built around paper-based agreements, verbal confirmations and in some cases even corrupt practices. Through the utilisation of electronic research, data management and automated processes, the benefits that blockchain can bring to the agriculture industry are vast. The most obvious use cases are in regards to supply chain management - the ability to track the source and journey of produce.
By 2025, it’s anticipated that the agricultural technology sector will be worth more than £136 billion globally.2
Nexus Enterprise Use Case
The following is an example of a Nexus Enterprise agriculture supply chain solution.
The benefits of this solution are as follows:
Food health and safety is of paramount importance to society. Knowing exactly where produce has come from will lead to improved quality controls, improved farming practices and fewer food-related illnesses.
The CDC estimates that foodborne illnesses affect 47.8 million people in the U.S. every year, putting 127,000 into the hospital and killing more than 3,000.3
Blockchain could help the issue of food safety through the simple use of unique digital identifiers (UDI’s) - or in the case of Nexus, Crypto EIDs. Crypto EIDs are identifiers running through the LISP protocol, which are specific to a certain type of produce or a single batch of output. The EID assigned could contain any desired information such as: farming location, expiry dates, temperature conditions, farmer details and growing conditions. This EID can then be tracked throughout the various stages of distribution and stored on the immutable ledger. Any changes or disruptions to the process could be traced back to the source, or flagged to the necessary parties, thus greatly improving the efficiency and transparency of the supply chain. As a whole, blockchain would help to prevent food waste, food fraud, and improve the process of making food recalls.
Food fraud costs the food industry around 40 billion dollars per year.4
Currently, the processes used by many small farmers, and even some of the major firms, rely on complex systems which are slow and inefficient by nature. These systems can result in mismanagement, as they are often fragmented and heavily dependent on paper-based contracts or verbal agreements. Given the large number of stakeholders in any such supply chain - buyers, banks, producers, sellers, suppliers, couriers and customs officers - capital can often be tied up for significant periods of time while the paper-based forms of documentation are transported to the appropriate parties. Delays can result in: wasted food, increased costs and potentially damaged stakeholder relationships.
By using a distributed ledger to manage authorization of internal supply chains, one can create a far more robust and secure system, whilst also allowing the smart execution of the binding financial contracts (Nexus Contracts). The monetary instruments used for the transfer can be tied to the authorisation and access logs of the supply chain, allowing for improved automation, security and trust while transacting.
On the topic of improved efficiency, a blockchain can facilitate a more cost-effective and faster means of making payments. A Blockchain can facilitate instant payments, with very little or no cost. Over time, the agriculture industry may begin to adopt an automatic payment mechanism - upon the delivery of the goods to the next member of the supply chain, a Nexus Contract would automatically execute and make the associated payment.
Nexus Contracts can be used to make value transfer more transparent, secure and resistant to fraud. In conventional purchases across the Internet - where both parties may not know, and therefore may not trust one another - an escrow provider is generally required to handle disputes between parties. In a Nexus Contract execution environment, money can be locked inside a Conditional Contract pending the terms of its fulfillment - allowing buyers and sellers to trade in a safer way. When the money gets committed into such a contract, and the terms of the contract govern the release of funds, we see a much more simplified and safer marketplace that can reduce the cost of overheads and improve stakeholder confidence.
Internet of Things (IoT)
It is predicted that smart agriculture solutions could be worth up to $26.76 billion by 2020.5
Another large challenge for farmers is monitoring the quality of crops leading up to their harvest. The implementation of IoT devices interacting with one other on the blockchain could greatly help this monitoring process.
Enhanced levels of soil and plant monitoring are examples of such - enabling farmers to identify the nutrient level within the soil, monitor yearly weather conditions and even customise fertilisation. IoT devices will also be involved post-harvest. While transporting the produce along the supply chain, IoT devices can monitor the environment of the perishable goods (e.g. humidity and temperature). These processes will aid greatly with regards to quality management, and will ensure a level of objective trust among newly transacting parties.
The world will need to produce 70% more food in 2050 than it did in 2006 [...] To meet this demand, farmers and agricultural companies are turning to the Internet of Things for analytics and greater production capabilities.6
There has been a noticeable growth in consumer interest around the source of produce over the past decade. In a recent study, over 90% of consumers surveyed list food product transparency as a critical factor impacting their purchase and expect manufacturers to provide the necessary information.7
The 2019 Organic Soil Association Market Overview Report8 found the following reasons as driving factors behind the 7th year of consecutive growth in the UK Organic Food Market:
As this trend continues to grow, agricultural processes and applications will need to both grow and innovate, to ensure that consumers are happy with the level of transparency provided. It ultimately boils down to whether the end consumer trusts the product being sold. A blockchain provides this trust.
The finance sector is one of the most important global industries, moving trillions of dollars on a daily basis and serving the majority of the world’s population. The finance sector has presented some of the finest use cases for blockchain technology with the most immediate large-scale cost savings.
Audits could be made a great deal more efficient in terms of the accuracy of the data analysed, and the speed of the process through the use of blockchain technology. Given the fact that all transactions would be stored on the distributed ledger, an audit could be completed in real-time. This would free up the financial department’s time and resources to work on strategic development rather than laborious reporting1. The same here goes for accounting – a logical layer could be used to automate the entire process. For example, an automatic transfer from trade receivables to cash and cash equivalents upon receipt of an expected payment.
Proof of ownership
The immutability of blockchain data would reduce the possibility for fraud, improve pricing accuracy, and provide enhanced levels of consumer confidence in regards to asset ownership. In the way that the public Nexus Blockchain tracks the ownership of NXS, the Nexus Blockchain can also track the ownership of any physical asset, such as a share, bond or property. Transferring a piece of land or a property can currently take months; this could be reduced to minutes through the use of a Nexus Contract. Here, the Nexus Contract would transfer the property upon receipt of the payment, and the blockchain would reflect the change in ownership post sale. Improving transparency in ownership could have positive, wide economic implications – the 2008 financial crisis revealed that it is actually very difficult to identify who owns certain assets2, especially complex assets such as derivatives. The ability to track ownership on a distributed ledger is already underway within the finance sector – in 2015 Nasdaq Linq used blockchain technology to “successfully complete and record a private securities transaction - the first of its kind using blockchain technology.”3
Being able to make fast, accurate payments is an essential function for any business. Foreign Exchange (FX) payments in particular are a huge element of the global economy: the global FX market generates $1.805 trillion a day in trading volume.4 The issue with such payments is that third party providers tend to charge large percentage ‘spreads’ when exchanging different currencies, as well as payment fees when moving money overseas. UK SMEs were reportedly overcharged £4.078 billion in 2015 when making payments abroad5, a figure which would be considerably larger if Fortune companies were also included. Payments on a blockchain-based economy would eradicate the vast majority, if not all, third-party payment fees.
Also, the speed and accuracy of the payment will reduce the time needed for back office matching, settlement, and risk of making a payment to the incorrect beneficiary. The days of spot trades and T+1 currency settlements could be a thing of the past under a digital currency and blockchain backed financial system.
Blockchain could potentially reduce the infrastructure costs banks currently have by $15-20 billion per annum by 2022.6
Know your client (KYC) and Anti-money laundering (AML)
Approximate cost of $16 billion in identity theft and fraud in 2016.7
Blockchain technology could make the effort of on boarding clients much more streamlined than the manual processes which are still being used today. This automation could be facilitated through the use of Nexus Contracts, and the ability to verify certain pieces of data through the use of the DLT. Manual compliance efforts and processes would no longer be required under a blockchain-based system, the results being: lowering of costs, improved efficiency, and improved customer experience.
Alongside benefits for the business, blockchain technology could also benefit the end consumer: if a customer has payment limits on their account for example, and a large unexpected payment is processed to an account never previously paid to, a Smart Contract could halt the payment in the chance it is fraudulent. Smart features such as this will improve the overall effectiveness of the financial system and improve consumer safety. Financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking and cheques totalled £768.8 million in the UK in 20168, a number which DLT would no doubt be able to reduce.
Blockchain will provide 30-50% potential cost savings on compliance a 50% potential cost saving on centralised operations.9
A blockchain can also benefit the end consumer through the enhanced levels of security it provides, given there is no centralised point of data which can be attacked. Nexus’ quantum computer resistant technology builds on this further, protecting the stored data from future advances in computing technology that will break most asymmetric cryptography (RSA, DSA, and ECDSA).10
Implementation of blockchain technology could lead to cost savings in the range of 70-80% for syndicate loan transactions.11 Blockchain could also, in theory, eliminate a great deal of credit and liquidity risk as the lender could get an understanding of the parties’ likelihood of making the interest and principal payments through audits conducted in real time. Theoretically, this could lead to a reduction in the amount of poor loans in the economy.
It is estimated that regulatory reporting, for which specific software and technology is required, costs finance companies in Europe around €80bn.12
Blockchain would make the life of the regulators much easier, as they would have the opportunity to review compliance files and address any potential risks in real time. Enhanced levels of transparency and visibility would be achieved through the use of a Hybrid Blockchain, with the regulators being updated with the relevant information in real time. Under the current fragmented and isolated systems, reporting can be a difficult task. An audit trail that regulators could observe and monitor in real time would likely result in a safer business environment.
The aforementioned points are only a selection of possible finance related blockchain benefits. Use cases specific to insurance firms, asset managers, clearinghouses, prime brokers, exchanges, and even central banks are also in abundance. The World Economic Forum and The Bank of England highlight the breadth of blockchain use case potential across the financial sector in their respective blockchain publications:
The World Economic Forum:13
The Bank of England:14
Blockchain technology shows great promise in regards to efficiency gains in the healthcare sector:
Nexus Enterprise Use Case
The following is an example of a Nexus Enterprise pharmaceutical supply chain solution.
The benefits of this solution are as follows:
Patient Data Management
Maintaining patient data is of huge concern in the medical sector, given that it can be considered the most sensitive type of personal information. Access to these records therefore needs to be carefully managed. Currently, this data tends to be held in silos or data centers, where the information is separated and ring-fenced dependent on the organisation holding said data. With centralization comes a single point of strategic failure.
Through the application of blockchain technology, this data can be distributed over a trusted network. For example, a Hybrid Blockchain solution only stores a fingerprint of data to provide data integrity on the distributed ledger, and access to further information requires authorisation with a public key, which would be encrypted through the medical databases, while the recipient would hold the private key for decryption. Using this method, access control schemes can become more secure and efficient.
For example, if a doctor needs certain information to make a diagnosis, using a one-time public key, they could request access through a Smart Contract on the blockchain for given files identified by their digital fingerprints. The internal medical database would then publish this public key on the blockchain as an access control log, and encrypt requested records with said public key. This application of distributed ledger technology balances perfectly the right level of privacy and the required accurate access control logs. In this example the consumer remains the owner of their own data, whilst the authorised party gains the information needed to execute the task, before their access is removed.
As stated above, medical records, research, and data tend to be stored in silos, making the information very difficult to source. Through blockchain access control systems, valuable data can be utilised in more effective ways by pharmaceutical companies, such as streamlining internal processes or aiding the development of new and innovative drugs.
Accountability & Traceability
In many cases, medical data needs to be shared among a number of stakeholders or trusted parties: hospitals, private doctors, researchers, and insurers to name a few. For this reason, not only is protection important, but also the accountability and traceability of records. The ability for a patient to know where their medical data is being used, and for what purpose, is an important part of establishing trust between stakeholders. If a piece of data is misused or lost, then an individual or organisation could be identified and held accountable for that error, which would help to mitigate future errors from taking place.
Fraudulent claims in the healthcare industry cause major problems. They not only consume valuable resources from those that need them, but they also result in informational issues such as prescription errors. The ability for a healthcare provider or insurer to access patient information to authenticate a claim will increase efficiency and ensure that fraudulent claims are reduced.
An estimated 10–30% of medicines sold in developing economies are counterfeits, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in revenue losses globally.1
The World Health Organization (WHO) found last year there were 1,500 reports of fake or low-quality drugs being sold on the open market, most of which could be putting people's lives at risk.2
With an immutable ledger, drugs can be authenticated from the point of production, all the way to the pharmacy. A consumer could trace the source of this drug through a unique identifier on the packaging. This level of traceability will establish further trust in healthcare providers, pharmaceutical firms and the doctor-patient relationship. Preventing fake medication from entering the system is invaluable.
An estimated one million deaths per year from counterfeit medicine.3
Another important application of this technology in fraud prevention is ensuring that all parties are acting appropriately in regards to the prescription of drugs. Take the current system for example, the information isn’t shared among stakeholders, so the end retailer has no way of authenticating that a prescription is legitimate. By using distributed ledger technology, trust can be established through the shared application of data. At each stage of the supply chain, the stakeholder can log that record which can then be traced for authentication. The likelihood of illicit activity under such a system is greatly reduced.
According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that up to $200 billion worth of counterfeit pharmaceutical products are sold globally every year and 50% of these drugs are purchased online.4
Despite the move towards streaming services and pay-to-play licensing, growth in the music industry is still stifled by legacy systems and processes. The immutable and ‘trustless’ nature of blockchain technology makes it perfect for functions such as audibility, authentication and automation in the music sector.
Nexus Enterprise Use case
This Proof of Concept (PoC) use case involves publishing a song (or any IP that contains metadata) onto the blockchain. Here, a Signature Chain publishes metadata on the blockchain, but a token (created by the owner of the Signature Chain) actually owns this metadata. Through the token representing ownership, whoever owns said tokens can claim the proportion of the revenue or profit generated by the metadata.
Up until now, tokenized data has only really been used to raise capital in the form of an ICO in the digital currency space. But in reality, there are actual practical uses of tokenizing data. In the case of Nexus, tokens carry genuine utility and practical real world applications:
Royalties, and the associated payments, are well documented as some of the most inefficient types of payments that exist. Still to this day, major streaming sites, labels, publishers and artists tend to have issues with the royalty payment process. The complexity of royalty payments often results in many artists and/or rights holders either not getting paid, getting paid significantly less than they are owed, or getting paid late: it can take anywhere between 3 months - 2 years in some cases for artists to receive payment. As a result, talent can often disappear due to insufficient funding, which negatively impacts the industry as a whole.
Solomon Linda, composer of the song that became The Lion Sleeps Tonight (by The Tokens) was paid only 10 shillings for his work. That’s about 78 pence in today’s money.1
The entire process of royalty payments can be simplified and brought into real-time. A Nexus Contract can contain essential information regarding the master and publisher rights management. This process will then be completely automated as each stakeholder due payment will receive royalties as soon as the record is streamed or downloaded. Labels, publishers and recording companies also stand to benefit from blockchain technology as significant resources are currently consumed tracking the royalties due to their artists. Included in this is the ability to deal with micro-payments in real time through the use of a cryptocurrency operating on a blockchain, such as NXS.
Fraud and Piracy Prevention
95% of music downloads are illegal.2
Every stakeholder in the music industry is negatively affected by illegal downloads. Blockchain technology can prevent this in two major ways:
Firstly, data tracking can be used to combat fraud. The ability to track and authenticate data management from end to end is essential, and allowing this to happen in a trustless network is even more important. Nexus facilitates this through the use of Signature Chains and one-time use keys, where identity can be established through the network, and credibility guaranteed with the data shared, produced or transferred. An example of this could be copyright metadata provided in the use case above, where the ownership of a song that needs to be licensed or purchased can be automated through the use of a Smart Contract that sends micro-payments to the owner(s) of that metadata, making it simple and efficient for licensing and publishing costs to be recovered.
Another method could be through fan engagement/loyalty programmes. If fans had a financial incentive to promote an artist (in the form of micropayments, for example), this could lead to a knock-on effect; an individual may encourage others to get involved, alongside discouraging their peers from illegally downloading content given it would negatively impact their favourite artists. The result of such incentive based schemes, alongside other new business models, would benefit the music industry as a whole.
Digital Rights Database
The central point of focus in the music industry for many years has been around creating a single global database containing all essential information needed to determine digital rights. A database such as this would ensure that all stakeholders are dealt with fairly, with particular focus on artist and rights holder payments. Utilising distributed ledger technology and the successful management of IP data, copyright information and metadata in a public blockchain could be proven. The result of such a database would ensure information was stored correctly, and improve the efficiency of the industry as a whole. Distributed ledger technology is perfectly suited to the music industry - currently a piece of music can be stored in multiple, often conflicting libraries, which tend to also be incomplete. All this does is create more hassle for the musician when looking to receive the royalties due to them.
The music industry is inherently opaque which leads to many of the problems given above regarding royalty payments. It also causes major problems for the artist when trying to prevent data use, such as a radio station playing a song without having the proper licenses to do so. By keeping all transactions of IP, royalties, copyright and metadata on a public ledger such as Nexus, every stakeholder would have the opportunity to self regulate the data and ensure that all information is easily accessible. Blockchain technology could also radically transform a culture of ‘black boxes’ and non-disclosure agreements, bringing transparency throughout the value chain.3
With traditional methods of copyrighting, once a digital asset has been licensed, it is difficult to track infringement or misuse. Post-purchase, any digital asset (audio, film, text, software) can be registered to the blockchain, and contain an embedded watermark pertaining to a digital license. Watermarks can then be linked to a contract on the Nexus Blockchain, providing a way for purchasers to prove that the use of a digital asset is within the terms of their license agreement. With the use of a digital watermark reader, this technology can provide evidence of license violation.
Blockchain technology can be used to improve the levels of efficiency, security, automation and transparency throughout a supply chain. Supply chains for global organisations involve a large number of stakeholders: designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, storage facilities, couriers and retailers to name a few. The interaction between stakeholders can in some cases be automated, but it is fairly rare for complex chains to operate on a single integrated platform. Legacy IT systems coupled with fragmented processes mean that present-day supply chain management can be an onerous task.
Say an organisation requires multiple different pieces to be delivered, from different suppliers, to manufacture a finished product. On a blockchain, all the different pieces could be individually tracked side-by-side, allowing:
Nexus Enterprise Use Case
The following is an example of a Nexus Enterprise supply chain solution.
The benefits of this solution are as follows:
Counterfeit goods and piracy are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global import.1
On the blockchain, products could be traced from their precise source, and counterfeits could easily be identified, by comparing an item number with the supply chain's custody chain. This could have implications all the way from preventing fake drugs from being purchased - extremely important given that the WHO estimates that $200 billion worth of counterfeit pharmaceutical products are sold globally every year2 - to ensuring a luxury handbag was made by the advertised brand.
Products traveling across borders may require review and approvals from up to 30 parties before arrival, creating a large amount of paperwork and creating opportunities for fraud at multiple points in the process—leading to billions of dollars in maritime fraud each year.3
Quality management (IoT)
IoT technologies could have an impact of more than $1.9 trillion in the supply chain and logistics sector.4
IoT devices will have a significant impact on quality management along the supply chain in the years to come. These devices will be used to measure the environmental conditions of an object whilst it is being transported. These conditions could be the temperature or humidity of the goods while in transit. The ultimate goal of these devices is to detect whether goods have retained their levels of quality throughout the supply chain:
The integration of IoT devices would replace the need for some manual data entry, reducing errors and fraud. A system of IoT devices could be used to create a distributed oracle system; to automatically cross-reference collected data to ensure its accuracy. Finally, GPS devices can be used to track goods along the supply chain, improving security, and once again crossing over into the realm of the insurance industry.
Transparency & Accuracy
Supply chains, which utilise QR codes, SmartLabels, RFID tags and IoT systems, will collect large amounts of accurate data. Such data can be used to improve an array of processes: stock turnover, financial projections, perishable good monitoring, distribution processes and warehouse space allocation.
An accurate and automated supply chain can reduce the possibility of overproduction, the spoiling of produce, double handling and returns, erroneous stock accounting, and theft by employees. Consumers also tend to care about the history of the products purchased.
The 2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study revealed that 67 percent of consumers believe it is the brand or manufacturer’s responsibility to provide them with complete product information.5
High Value goods
Brand authenticity or quality assurance for high value goods can also benefit from blockchain technology. Digital Certificates could be used to prevent the sale of counterfeit or fraudulent goods. Certificates could be issued by luxury brands, or by societies and guilds for arts and antiques. To support the resale of goods, the certificates would be transferable between parties, allowing buying and selling on secondary markets. Certificates on the blockchain would also reduce cases of theft, as people would be less likely to buy a good without a certificate.
In a Conditional Contract, the payment would be a prerequisite for the execution of the transfer, releasing the certificate when the vendor claims the payment. This is one example of how Nexus can benefit the exchange of goods without the requirement of trusted intermediaries.
Escrow on Nexus is achieved through ‘Arbitration Triangles’ which function as non-custodial escrow services between a buyer and a seller. Ultimately reducing the need for trust that is required for the delivery of high value goods between consumers, manufacturers, and suppliers.
An Arbitration Triangle at its most basic level, requires two out of three signatories to unlock the funds and item of an exchange, e.g between a buyer and seller of a good, or any link in a supply chain. Since the third signatory or arbiter (shipping company or carrier) does not have custody of the digital certificates or funds, they act only as a neutral arbiter to resolve conflict between the buyer and the seller. In the case of a dispute, the arbiter settles the disagreement, essentially facilitating the function of an escrow service. Any organization with a supply chain or transaction involving three or more parties can benefit from this unique technology.
For a high value item bought online, the item could be issued a certificate of authenticity. The non-custodial agent, such as the carrier would then assume the role of arbiter, as the item and purchase funds are placed in an Arbitration Triangle. The carrier delivers the package to the buyer, receiving an electronic signature from them, fulfilling their role in arbitration by signing that the package was delivered. This would release the certificate to the buyer, and the funds to the seller, all without the carrier ever having custody of the certificate.
This means that the carrier never has possession of the certificate. Therefore, certificates of authenticity validate ownership rather than physical possession of an item, eliminating problems experienced in shipping with regards to manual paper signatures, theft by carriers, fraudulent claims, and erroneous deliveries.
Organizations that work closely together, such as producers, vendors and service providers, sometimes want to share information. However, they often wish to provide different levels of transparency to one another. Hybrid networks utilize technology that enables the granting of secure control access schemes, giving businesses the ability to privately share information with partners or alliances. These access schemes give specific accounts or applications access to various parts of the overall data, thus creating a ‘Hybrid’ of a public and a private network.
Distributed ledger technology could enable the entire life history of a good to be stored on the blockchain through an immutable audit trail. Everything could be tracked, from the specific field that a vegetable was grown in to what store it is currently sitting in waiting to be purchased. The implications of this can be as follows:
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