February 26, 2019 12:40 AM

Three words: “biometrically controlled” tips.

In order to help incentivize smaller suppliers to adopt sustainable practices, professional services firm Accenture has partnered with humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps, blockchain supply chain firm Everledger, and Mastercard to announce the group’s blockchain-based circular supply chain initiative. Along with allowing a product’s path to be tracked on a blockchain, the project aims to let consumers tip producers who use sustainable methods.

The main thrust of today’s press release centers around the “circular supply chain” the group is working to create with this initiative. The provided example of the process describes a farmer who harvests their product without harming a forest and then ships to a distributor. The customer then buys the product, approves of the sustainable farming techniques, and tips the farmer directly via an app. The circular supply chain essentially closes the supply chain loop between the maker/grower of the product and the customer, allowing the two to interact directly through a financial tip and incentivizing the producer’s sustainable practices.

By leveraging blockchain tech, the farmer can store their digital identity on the chain. The tipper is then able to confirm that their tip is used only by the farmer, and the farmer is ensured that only they can use their tip funds, which are, as the press release states, “biometrically controlled.”

The release notes that the project is meant to give consumers the ability to “connect with small-scale suppliers at the base of the supply chain pyramid.” It specifically references a 2018 Nielsen survey that states that 48 percent of US consumers would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. Additionally, the survey shows that 53 percent of millennials surveyed stated they would forgo brand name in order to buy environmentally friendly products. The project banks on these shifts in US consumer trends, and as small-scale/non-brand name suppliers adopt environmentally friendly practices that are traceable on a blockchain, the circular supply chain has the chance to create a financially sustainable green loop.

The press release does not touch on how much consumers are going to be able to tip suppliers through the proposed app, or if the tips will be confined to fiat-only transactions. A video posted to Accenture’s YouTube channel on February 21 shows the app’s interface allowing tips of up to €2.

This is hardly Accenture’s first venture into blockchain-related research and development. The firm is also part of a distributed ledger technology (DLT) research collective that includes the Bank of Canada, TMX Group, and payment clearing and settlement system organization Payments Canada. At the Payments Canada Summit in May 2018, the group presented key points of Project Jasper, which revolves around understanding how DLT could transform the wholesale payments system.

Nicholas Ruggieri studied English with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not quoting Vines at anyone who’s willing to listen, you’ll find him listening to too many podcasts, reading too many books, and crocheting too many sweaters for his dogs, RT and Peterman.

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