On July 31, 2017, internet of things and blockchain-based supply chain innovator Chronicled, Inc. announced the completion of a pilot program that tests the efficacy of the anonymous transfer of serialized global trade item numbers (SGTINs) on a medical supply chain, utilizing a Parity client on the Ethereum blockchain.
During the test, Chronicled took advantage of a protocol called zero knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge (zk-SNARK). According to Chronicled CTO Maurizio Greco, “This is the first step in a longer-term plan to fundamentally improve the way assets move through supply chains by using blockchain technology to immutably track the provenance of any object with an SGTIN.” Multi-party chains can use this method of verification to establish provenance without the direct interaction that is typical of a supply chain. This enables the transfer of possession or ownership of SGTINs anonymously across logistic networks. Chronicled will look at applying the cryptographic technique to pharmaceutical supply chains in partnership with The LinkLab, a supply chain consulting group.
Chronicled CEO Ryan Orr described the company’s focus and next steps.
“Our team has been working hard on this key privacy issue, and as a result Chronicled is now the first to successfully demonstrate this cryptographically secure method of anonymous physical asset identity transfer. As an immediate next step, we plan to continue to work with industry partners to implement current supply chain workflows using this technology while optimizing for volume, aggregation, returns, recalls, and performance considerations.”
Chronicled’s ambition falls in line with the FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which would require end-to-end tracking and tracing of pharmaceutical products by 2023 across interoperable platforms. This technology makes it possible to deliver such data without leaking critical and often sensitive business information.
Moving forward, Chronicled will begin public tests of the tactic that researchers are using to achieve the cryptographic supply chain goal. Maksym Petkus, Chronicled engineer, said, “In early August, Chronicled will host a clean-room session with three experts in the field of applied cryptography to verify the robustness of the technical method and publish independent assessments in a public forum.”
When fully functional, Chronicled stated the system will be a “unique solution to solving the competing requirements of full privacy, and also item level provenance when requested by a regulator” and “will represent a major move toward digitalization, trust, and interoperability in global trade flows.”
Later implementations of the pilot will provide interoperability between Quorum, Hyperledger, and other blockchains.
Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine. He is a full time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether.