Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Accenture and AWS use blockchain to help small-scale producers

Steve Rogerson
March 6, 2019



Professional services company Accenture is working with Mastercard, Amazon Web Services, Everledger and Mercy on a circular supply chain capability that leverages digital identity, payments and blockchain to reward directly sustainable practices of small-scale growers and suppliers.
 
The aims are to empower consumers, enable transparency and promote financial inclusion for small-scale producers.
 
With two-thirds of consumers preferring sustainable brands, the ability to promote ethical and environmentally mindful practices across the supply chain has never been more important. Until now, however, consumers have had few ways to connect with small-scale suppliers at the base of the supply chain pyramid and limited opportunities to support and incentivise sustainable practices.
 
The circular supply chain capability is intended to meet this need by combining blockchain, digital identity and payments technologies to allow customers to identify individual producers who use sustainable methods and financially reward them with a tip made by direct payment.
 
In addition to empowering customers and connecting them with small-scale producers, the capability is designed to help producers, manufacturers and retailers manage their inventory and reduce waste; create better transparency across the supply chain; ensure the authenticity of produce; and provide producers with more-equitable compensation for their produce by enabling consumers to reward them directly.
 
“Our identity capabilities are already empowering millions of users around the globe to access essential services like healthcare, banking and travel,” said David Treat, a managing director at Accenture. “Our circular supply chain capability combines these components with blockchain and expands its application to places and things, which is allowing us to rethink global supply chains. Through effective public and private partnerships, we can place sustainability and customer empowerment at the heart of global business models and we invite more partners to join us.”
 
Digital identity is a critical enabler of the offering. Through each producer’s unique digital identifier, data about the first kilometre of their goods is established and linked to their products as they move through the supply chain. End consumers, through a simple scan of a label, can access details of the product and, further, can be empowered to direct a secure tip.
 
“For the 3.4bn people – almost half the world’s population – that still struggle to meet basic needs, we believe that digital technologies are largely untapped,” said Tara Nathan, executive vice president at Mastercard. “To put more people onto the path from poverty to prosperity, we need to create an ecosystem that streamlines access to education, health, commerce and more. Through our work with smallholder farmers in Kenya, India, Mexico and elsewhere, we’ve deployed digital solutions helping to drive commercially sustainable social impact, and we understand that collaboration is essential for this journey.”
 
With the use of distributed ledger technology, the circular supply chain capability could benefit large global enterprises, governments and non-governmental organisations by providing a mechanism for them to track complex supply chains to small originating producers and helping them manage issues relating to accountability, waste and information transparency.
 
“Our blockchain-enabled work aims to facilitate more connected, transparent and sustainable supply chains, which bring about trusted collaborations among stakeholders,” said Leanne Kemp, Everledger’s founder and CEO. “Being a part of the circular supply chain capability with Accenture is a showcase example of conscious consumerism. Everledger’s provenance platform ensures supply chain integrity alongside a global movement to drive the agenda on sustainability and reimagine tomorrow’s marketplaces.”
 
Alan Donald, senior director of technology at Mercy, added: “One of today’s most critical challenges is strengthening the resilience of the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers, who collectively feed one in three people on earth yet often have a hard time feeding their own families. Mercy is excited to collaborate with Accenture and bring our experience implementing cutting-edge technology that improves agricultural livelihoods and deep local insights from more than 40 countries to refine and test this capability to help smallholder farmers and producers thrive.”