Why and how Wholechain uses blockchain for traceability

The complexity of the journeys products embark on before arriving in the hands of consumers cannot be understated. With robust data collection and storytelling tools, Wholechain is designed to address the growing movement to demystify these journeys, known as supply chain traceability. Only when companies and consumers are fully informed can they make better decisions about where they spend their money. 

By design, Wholechain is exceptionally simple on the surface for each user along the supply chain, while operating robust systems under the surface to securely and accurately connect every product journey from end to end. 

Blockchain is one of the technologies that Wholechain has chosen specifically to address some core questions that underpin traceability: 

  • How can we be sure of the authenticity of supply chain data? 
  • What if data gets lost or tampered with through the complex chain of custody?
  • Who is going to manage and store supply chain data, and are they trustworthy? 

Here is some background on blockchain and why it's been selected as a fundamental component of Wholechain's technology.


What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a 'distributed ledger of transactions' that has transformational potential for global industry that reaches far beyond cryptocurrency. Each transaction in the ledger, or “block,” contains key data elements (KDE’s) that are added onto the cryptographic “chain” upon real-time validation by a peer-to-peer network of connected computers. The process is designed in such a way that the information is nearly impossible to tamper with, and does not require management by a centralized data system (the way most of the other data we interact with does). 

Here’s a list of resources if you’re interested in learning more about blockchain technology and its uses. 


Why does blockchain work well for traceability?

Here are three simple reasons blockchain technology is uniquely suited for supply chain traceability, and why Wholechain has decided to utilize it:

  • By design, blockchain is resistant to tampering or modification. This means records are immutable and their validity and authenticity can be trusted. At the end of the day, customers need to be able to trust that the story of the product journey is reliable. 
  • At its core, every product’s supply chain consists of a chain of custody from origin to consumer. Blockchain’s “chain” format mimics that journey as a ledger of supply chain details and events. 
  • The decentralized nature of blockchain technology means no biased third party can impact the integrity of supply chain data. Whereas centralized data systems can enable obscurity and data modifications, blockchain enables objectivity and security. 

Now, there’s a lot of hype around blockchain, and at Wholechain, we aren’t making claims that this technology will cure cancer, make you rich, or save the planet. It is simply one of the tools we’ve selected to incorporate in our multifaceted solution, bringing the exact benefits described above: immutable and authentic data capture that is not managed by any one party, thus increasing trust across supply chain stakeholders. 


Which blockchains does Wholechain use?

At Wholechain we’ve carefully selected reputable blockchain partners to entrust with our customers’ supply chain data. At the moment we offer two options to our customers based on their unique context and requirements: Mastercard Provenance Solution and Stellar


What information does Wholechain record on the blockchain?

While all the products and events that comprise the movements through your supply chain can be viewed in Wholechain’s web and mobile apps, there are only certain events that trigger writing data onto the blockchain a company has selected to use. We’ve carefully chosen to record events that explicitly capture the chain of custody through a product’s journey all the way to consumers. 

Wholechain records the following event types onto the blockchain: 

  • Commission - When a product comes into existence in a supply chain - whether after harvest or first record. It captures the digital provenance of each product item moved. 
  • Send / Receive - When a product changes custody, moving from one trading partner to another. This is technically a 2-part event capture, with both Send and Receive records written to the blockchain. 
  • Decommission - When a product exits the supply chain - either because it is consumed at the downstream end of the supply chain, or is destroyed / otherwise ceases to exist in the traceability journey.

You can view each of the above transactions on the respective blockchain your company has chosen through a link displayed in the event record details in Wholechain. 

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