Chairman’s Highlights – 3 May 2019

BeefLedger continues to consolidate its market-leading position to integrate real Australia-to-China supply chain activities and technological capabilities.

One of the most catalytic aspects of decentralised ledgers is the need to bring diverse players together. In many – perhaps most – supply chains, this involves a complex series of inter-dependent relationships infused with historic flavour, and expectations from supply chain participants.

Technology should never be viewed in isolation of these embedded realities.

That’s why we continue to engage with supply chain stakeholders throughout the whole chain. This diverse set of engagements has been delivering some incredible progress for the BeefLedger project at a commercial level, as well as at a technological level, enabling a pathway to scaled implementation.

Sales channels and alignments: culinary professionals

BeefLedger sees a future in which credentialing, for Australian beef at the very least, is about validated high standards. Our design ethos is to create mechanisms utilising the technologies that drive the pursuit of excellence right through the supply chain. We do that by aligning rewards to sellers with value to buyers.

That’s why we have focused on working closely with the upper echelons of China’s culinary world on the one hand, and directly with discerning household consumers on the other. After all, it is the exacting standards that these two groups set that will drive value through the sustained pursuit of excellence throughout the supply chain.

To this end, we have successfully extended our partnering network amongst China’s leading culinary professionals to an ever-growing base of executive chefs a the top of their game, and with their respective culinary / chef and hotel associations in various localities. We have done this in part through a collaboration with a global chef exchange initiative, Chef Outta Water – whose acronym is aptly C.O.W.

Executive chefs at a range of 5 Star hotels are now strong supporters of the use of BeefLedger technologies to ensure they – and their customers – can be confident in what they are buying and eating. Picture is C.O.W. Representatives Simon Millcock and Chris Holen, and chefs Bill Shen and Alex Chen from the Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental Hotel Group.

Other high quality products sought by these chefs are also being considered for support from the underlying technological capability we can now bring.

We will continue to work closely with this professional community to meet their exacting requirements going forward. This is exciting stuff for those involved in the provision of high quality food stuffs and beverages, and BeefLedger is proud to be involved in this foundational activity.

Sales channels and alignments: digital direct to consumers

Not only are we working with culinary leaders, we are also taking credentialed premium product direct to consumers. We are doing this via the technologies of the 21st century, in preference at this stage to the more conventional routes of supermarket retailing.

Modern Chinese consumers are finding their way online more and more; even for perishables. Digital platforms are pivotal to how modern Chinese consumers select and purchase products, expecting their purchases to be delivered to the door.

We are mindful that the major online platforms have had significant problems of product counterfeiting. Despite best endeavours for a number of years, it would appear that the big e-malls are struggling to deliver consumers confidence in the authenticity of the products for sale. Trust has evaporated.

In this context, we’ve chose a more discriminating pathway. BeefLedger credentialed products can now be bought by consumers directly from two digital platforms, and two only. Additional channels will be evaluated carefully and on their merits.

Our Strategic Investment and Development Memorandum of Understanding with Shanghai headquartered LinkeyChain Intelligent Technologies Co. Ltd sees our premium beef products available on the country’s first (and possibly only) 100% Blockchain-credentialed products marketplace. You can read more about this MOU in our previous announcement.

BeefLedger is also a founding strategic partner of rapidly growing Beijing-based social e-mall platform Liberty Post.

Partnerships are limited and by invitation only. A stringent evaluation process is required to demonstrate the authenticity of the products that will be sold by merchant partners on the platform. A core target demographic of this platform are socially-conscious, ecosystem-active post-1990s consumers. This cohort navigates their interactions with the world via the swishing of a finger on a smart phone monitor, expecting instant, or at the very least, rapid fulfilment.

These digital platforms enable Chinese consumers to purchase BeefLedger products or BeefLedger-credentialed products through the ubiquitous WeChat App. No standalone apps are required, which delivers a seamless path to market for products within our credentialed portfolio.

Technology status

The technologies we have been developing are diverse. So are those third party equipment sets we have tested and evaluated. In truth, the testing and evaluation of third party tech has enabled us to further refine our perspective on “fitness for purpose”. There’s a lot of interesting “kit” out there, but it’s not always suitable for application in the specific context of the red meat supply chain.

We’re very pleased to have recently put pen to paper on the Strategic MOU with LinkeyChain. On the back of this, a number of developmental scopes are now being finalised that will enable us to move confidently forward with:

  • bridging technologies where applicable, linking conventional “centralised cloud-style” data architectures with our data-secure decentralised world; and
  • bespoke encryption technologies that enable confident information publishing and consumption from decentralised data networks.

If that’s all a bit rocket science-like, perhaps I can frame it like this: as real life transactions and activities become more dependent on the information collected via a vast array of devices, sensors and such like, all of which are increasingly linked to each other and the internet, the greatest systemic vulnerability will be in networked-data security and veracity. We are tackling these vulnerabilities through system design.

Compliance technologies

And so, I conclude this latest highlights report with some preliminary observations about our work in the regulatory and legal space.

The production of cattle and meat, and its sale (domestic or export), is enmeshed in a raft of legislative, regulatory and non-legislative standards and conditions. Compliance is a massive part of the red meat industry, for understandable reasons, even if there are concerns from industry that the costs of compliance are weighing heavily on sector competitiveness.

As we work through the serious work of designing smart contracts to automate the execution and enforcement of transactions, we are mindful that the technology “fix” must mesh seamlessly with the needs and expectations of a host of compliance stakeholders. To fulfill the “Blockchain promise” of low cost auditability, there is a massive body of research needed, not to mention stakeholders engagement.

Our legal collaborators at the Queensland University of Technology, lead by international trade law expert Dr Felicity Deane (pictured), are working on core baseline requirements so that smart contracts (often said to be neither smart nor contracts) are actually meaningful – and therefore acceptable – as mechanisms by which the transactions of the supply chain can be enabled via Blockchain-secured data states.

This work will cross over to our collaboration with LinkeyChain and Chinese regulators from China Inspections and Quarantine Services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

We will profile our Queensland University of Technology research team in the near future.