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Provenance aims to change commerce by creating transparent supply chains which connect consumers interested in knowing the origin and story behind products with the people who make them.

Faced with the problem of opaque supply chains for most of the products we buy, Provenance has developed a platform through which brands can trace the origins and histories of products using blockchain and open data technologies. This means customers can make informed choices about what to buy.

Provenance is a collective started in late 2013 by Computer Science PhD student Jessi Baker with the support of the Open Data Institute.

Current supply chains are opaque and it is difficult for consumers to understand where the materials for the products they buy came from, who made the products, where they were made, and how much social and environmental impact - positive or negative - they have. Provenance has a mission to change this so that brands can be more sustainable and consumers more informed.

Provenance uses public blockchains (Bitcoin and Ethereum) as well as regular databases and open data to empower brands to take steps toward greater transparency. This is achieved by tracing the origins and histories of products, making the stories behind those products accessible. Businesses can create a profile via Provenance, add their products and share their stories, issue and receive batches of items and showcase product provenance at the point of sale. Shoppers in turn can look for the Provenance logo on the products they buy.

In September 2016, Provenance completed its first six-month pilot tracking sustainable fish farming in Indonesia, including committing the first tuna fish to the blockchain. The pilot used Ethereum technology to look at the supply chain from lone fishermen in Indonesia to high-value sushi traders in Japan. Working with an NGO, Provenance delivers equips fishermen with a smartphone, through which they use an app to track their catch and ensure it meets sustainability standards. These catches then pass through markets, traders and restaurants, all of which are tracked on the blockchain. Restaurants can then prove to the customer that their fish is slavery-free and sustainable.

Provenance also provides a forum to ask questions and for the sharing of knowledge in relation to the creation of products, for the purpose of educating, inspiring and powering better-made things. Provenance describes itself as a “framework for knowledge”, acting as a gateway to information about the people, places, processes and materials behind the products we buy, so that we can “know more, buy better”.  

Image: Provenance

Case study date: October 2016



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