Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

NTT and Skuchain apply blockchain to supply chains

Steve Rogerson
February 1, 2018



Japan’s NTT Data is working with California company Skuchain to empower enterprise supply chains with blockchain to extract value from the $18tn market for global trade.
 
In the same way the internet gave birth to e-commerce, blockchain provides the foundation for collaborative commerce, in which enterprises are able to work together to unlock gains while also expanding their control across the supply chain. Skuchain has developed tools to realise this vision.
 
Numerous friction points hamper international commerce, including the complicated and opaque mechanics of trade, paperwork, manual processes and divergent standards. Above all, supply chains are held back by imperfect and asymmetric information because vast pools of data are unavailable to parties to a cross-border transaction.
 
This inability to coordinate leads to increased costs, market failure or the absence of markets where they would add value. Skuchain uses the blockchain to solve these problems.
 
Under the partnership, Skuchain and NTT Data will finish building an integrated blockchain IoT platform that combines Skuchain's blockchain-based EC3 with NTT Data's iQuattro for systems integration. The result is a commercial offering for enterprises that captures the value hidden in their large supplier base with secure logistics management, cash flow relief and collaborative inventory planning.
 
This integrated platform will be jointly marketed by Skuchain and NTT Data to enterprises in Japan and other markets and deployed across their global supply chains.
 
The integrated blockchain IoT platform uses the transformative potential of blockchain technology to manage and optimise all aspects of the supply chain. That includes Skuchain's Popcodes app for tracking and tracing goods that provides visibility and control over the supply chain. In addition, Skuchain's Brackets smart contracts app enables the continuous flow of transactions and data and, ultimately, fine-grained automation with precise control.
 
These foundational technologies enable companies to turn their inventory from an illiquid asset and balance sheet burden into a blockchain asset that generates cash flow relief and reduced cost of goods sold.
 
Underpinning all of this is Skuchain's Zero Knowledge Collaboration technology, which fills the information gap in the supply chain without sacrificing privacy so that companies can plan with precision and turn firewalled information into capital. Importantly for companies adopting this technology, the blockchain-specific infrastructure needs, such as bootstrapping a network and adding policies, organisations and customised smart contracts, are baked into the application stack, allowing suppliers to onboard with one click.
 
As a first step in the partnership, Skuchain and NTT Data completed a pilot with a large Japanese company and their supply chain in China using Popcodes track-and-trace system. Additional pilots are underway with other Japanese conglomerates, including for smart contract governance and inventory financing.
 
Founded in late 2014, Skuchain pioneered blockchain for the supply chain and executed the first trade finance transaction on the blockchain. Since then, it has been deploying its end-to-end supply chain services across Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. NTT Data is a systems integrator for supply chains because of its technological expertise, geographic scale and understanding of customer needs and operations.