Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial to launch blockchain app to stop food fraud
Ant Financial, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Tuesday announced a partnership with local Chinese authorities to use blockchain in an attempt to prevent counterfeit products entering the market. The company is all set to launch its own blockchain-as-a-service platform next month, alongside a rice-tracking application that is intended to put a lid on the increasing cases of food fraud.
The firm announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with the municipal government of the Chinese city of Wuchang to deploy a consortium blockchain for tracking the entire production process of locally grown rice in the province.
A prominent player in the Chinese market Alipay has over 400 million users and is owned by Ant Financial. According to a report in the Global times, the deal with the municipal government is a step to stop counterfeit versions of the well-known Wuchang rice making it to the market.
Highlighting the benefits of the blockchain technology, the report adds, “This is the first time that Wuchang rice has changed the long-distance distribution method for the whole country, shortening the original delivery time of 3-7 days to less than 2 days.”
Blockchain to the rescue
Located in China's Heilongjiang province, Wuchang is known for its high quality Wuchang rice. However, over the past few years, there have been reports that packages delivered from the region were sometimes mixed with low grade rice.
Starting from September 30, every package of "Wuchang rice" sold by flagship stores on Alibaba's Tmall e-commerce platform will have a QR code that customers can scan using Alipay to obtain information about the food's origin.
Ant Financial said that its distributed network is deployed among participating nodes including flagship stores' rice producers, Wuchang's Bureau of Quality and Technology Supervision, logistics supplier Cainiao and the Tmall platform.
The main goal of the project is to have a universal ledger that could have an account of each rice package so that any discrepancy in the rice packets can be easily spotted.
"Consumers will be able to access production and logistics information including where the rice was harvested, which type of seed was used, and other details associated with harvesting, packaging and transportation of the rice," the company said in the statement.
According to Ant Financial, they expect to launch their blockchain-as-a-service platform by September, opening up its blockchain development tools for more enterprises.
Future of blockchain seems bright
The move comes after a week when China clamped down heavily on cryptocurrency trading and decided to shut down numerous blockchain related accounts, on WeChat and other social media apps. It has also shut down hotels in downtown Beijing in a renewed crackdown on cryto trading.
But this has not dampened the mood of the general public who are more than enthusiastic about this new technology and blockchain continues to capture the imagination of Beijing with various partnerships going on both within the public and private sectors.
Image via Shutterstock
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