Mastercard, a global payment giant, is turning its innovative forces to a new venture: using blockchain to bring transparency to the food supply chain. As announced on Oct. 27, Mastercard will use its proprietary blockchain, Provenance Solution, to power Envisible's Wholechain system that will trace and track the sources of fish and seafood delivered to the top U.S. food co-op Topco member stores.
It may appear that this is way outside of the payment processor’s primary business interests, but according to Mastercard’s representatives, this impression is actually not quite true. The company keeps abreast of its customers’ needs and wants, so when its experts detected the public’s growing interest in knowing where their food comes from, Mastercard had just the technical means to deliver what’s wanted. Blockchain, an immutable distributed ledger technology, is a perfect tool to ensure the visibility of every step of the operations, from producers to distributors to consumers’ tables, and Mastercard already has its own private, permissioned blockchain, which, as their representatives say, they had the foresight to build several years ago. Since it is designed to mirror the basic architecture behind their payment network, the partners expect that the new venture can be rolled out at scale from the very start.
Wholechain will be piloted at Topco Associates – the leading U.S. purchasing entity, who wants to trace and publish the sources of seafood they deliver to their member-owned supermarkets. The ultimate goal is to inform their consumers and ensure environmental compliance and more ethical sourcing of seafood sold to the end consumers. The species to be tracked first are the ones grocery shoppers buy the most: salmon, shrimp, and cod.
According to Mastercard’s representatives, the company does not intend to limit the use of its Provenance blockchain to the food industry. Last August, it announced its plans to demo the tracking system at a showcase of women fashion designers. The firm’s spokespeople emphasized that there are two important roles that their solution can play in this sector: informing consumers about the provenance and route by which the products reach the shelf and counteracting the epidemic in counterfeit goods in the fast and lucrative fashion industry.