OriginTrail Business Review

Female farmer using a tablet computer to provide more information about her organic meat products - using OriginTrail blockchain system.

OriginTrail is a protocol that can increase transparency in the supply chain. It’s aimed at anyone who works with goods that are highly complex and also require a high level of accountability. It is a decentralized, blockchain-based system that has been primarily used in the agricultural sector so far, but may have applications for other supply chain categories including healthcare.

What is OriginTrail?

OriginTrail has a specific purpose: to improve accountability and transparency for organic meat farmers.

It is designed for IT providers to set up data sharing in multi-organizational environments, such is vital for supply chains where data needs to be shared across multiple companies and stages. This results in a decentralized knowledge graph that organizes, discovers, and verifies.

It’s built on multichain infrastructure with the ultimate goal of helping companies make their supply chains more transparent and allowing consumers to make more informed decisions.

Agriculture Supply-Chain Challenges

Most of us have no idea where the food we eat or the goods we use come from. Many people might not care. However, younger consumers, in particular, are starting to develop a strong interest in a better understanding of the supply chain. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have also given people more awareness of global supply chains and how they can be disrupted and developed.

In some areas, this is particularly important. For example, people who buy organic meat want to make sure that the meat is organic and to know which farm it came from. The same with those who want to avoid crated veal calves, GMOs, etc.

Unfortunately, traditional systems result in a lot of data siloing. Consumers may see the label that says something is organic or fair trade or made in the USA. However, the data to prove it simply isn’t there. Instead, the system relies on trust, which is not something you can truly build a business on these days. Trust is often hard to come by.

This system only audits parts of chains at a time, leading to very fragmented data collection.

Modern Solutions With Blockchain

The challenge here is to bring together data across multiple companies. At the human level, this often means building trust and helping business owners and stakeholders feel comfortable sharing this data with their allies (and understanding what their competitors may or may not do).

At the technical level, decentralized blockchain is the perfect solution. It allows for the tracking of items and information security on a trusted ledger operated by the business stakeholders. Other solutions might well come forward over time, but the challenges faced are significant. It requires moving away from the idea that data on supply chain details needs to be proprietary in order to protect profit (in fact, the reverse is true) and developing an understanding of the true importance of securing supply chains.

Building Consumer and Supplier Trust

OriginTrail solves these problems in a way that gives more power to consumers. It helps businesses demonstrate the integrity of their supply chains and their values.

The first use of OriginTrail was in organic meat production, an area in which customer confidence is absolutely vital. People choose to buy organic meat for a variety of reasons including taste, perceived health benefits, and concern for animal welfare.

OriginTrail is open and decentralized, therefore, it allows for free trade of information. It brings automatic data connection and interoperability between all of the different stakeholders.

Facing this challenge has led to the development of OriginTrail as a protocol solution. OriginTrail helps with product authentication, chain of custody, and also supply chain optimization and compliance.

Female consumer buying organic meat products sold in a grocery store.

Technical Summary

OriginTrail is an open-source blockchain protocol for trusted data exchange.

Tokenomics

The system uses TRAC (pronounced trace). TRAC is a utility token that consumers use to read the OriginTrail information on a given product. TRAC is also the means of compensation between data producers and consumers and node holders. It operates on the ERC20 standard.

Protocol Layer

OriginTrail is built on the Ethereum (ETH) protocol, which was constructed for the cryptocurrency ether. ETH is open access and any entity or individual can use it.

Consensus Mechanism

The consensus mechanism used is zero-knowledge proof. This is a probabilistic assessment system that allows you to verify the origin of data without actually being able to see its contents. Banks often use this. A consensus check is done at every stage, with each stakeholder having to be approved by both the previous and following companies in the chain. This ensures the proper tracking of each batch through the chain. It also helps with the quick investigation and reconciliation of discrepancies.

Other Technical Details

OriginTrail is designed for heavy data interoperability. To achieve this, it uses XML and GS1 standards, which provide for the standardization of such things as dates globally. It is also based on the EPCIS framework, which permits layering and full modularization for solid scalability.

The data layer focuses on data relationships and thus takes the form of a graph database similar to Neo4j or ArangoDB. This solution matches well with how the supply chain itself works. Meanwhile, the network layer is a peer-to-peer network built on Kademlia, a distributed hash table to ensure long-term identity and differentiate between data creator and data holder nodes.

Specific Solutions or Products

As OriginTrail is open source, specific products are being developed all the time. As already mentioned, organic meat was the primary solution for the development of OriginTrail. It has since expanded across the food and agriculture sector. This includes the SmartAgriHubs project in Europe designed to increase digital innovation in agriculture.

Another use case is that the Swiss National Rail Company has been using OriginTrail to track rail component material and thus enhance the safety of train travel.

There are, however, no public OriginTrail products. Each of the current solutions caters to end-user applications. Stakeholders can inquire about running a node through OriginTrail’s website. OriginTrail is also open-source, allowing developers to build tailored solutions for any supply chain problem.

Comparable Solutions

The most comparable solution is IBM Food Trust. This satisfies a similar problem in a fairly similar way. A major difference, however, is that IBM’s solution is not open source and any company wishing to work with it has to go through the same process directly with IBM.

OriginTrail is not a healthcare-specific solution. However, users can easily use it to control and add accountability and transparency to drug and electronic medical device supply chains.

iSolve is another similar project specifically for reverse visibility. It can help pharmaceutical companies track where the end consumer marketplace uses their products.

Conclusion

Food supply chain transparency is becoming more and more important as consumers seek to be more savvy and educated. People can use this to ensure that organic food really comes from organic farms. It can also help with other certifications such as cage-free chicken or veal or slavery-free chocolate.

This type of consumer demand is only likely to increase in the future, where OriginTrail can also be used in many similar applications. Its open-source nature means it is a lot easier for companies to work out what they can do with it and explore its possibilities. Developers are likely to create even more solutions for different companies and while publicly available products are not in place yet, it’s likely they will be.

If you want to know more about OriginTrail, Blockchain, and how blockchain is revolutionizing healthcare and other areas of our lives, contact Blockchain Healthcare Review today.