Recently, food giant Nestle announced it will begin using blockchain technology to manage its supply chain and food tracking operations in New Zealand. This innovation, developed in collaboration with open-source blockchain platform OpenSC, will provide transparent information to consumers regarding the source and sustainability of the products they purchase.
The initial trial will focus on tracking milk from New Zealand dairy farms as it makes its way to Nestle factories in the Middle East. The data will be stored on an incorruptible blockchain ledger that is easily accessible by anyone with internet access, providing clear and verifiable details of the entire supply chain journey.
Should the trial period complete successfully, Nestle will add other products to the blockchain platform to test whether it has the scalability to manage its entire product catalog.
Nestle is not a newcomer to blockchain technology, however, and has been investigating its benefits for supply chain management since joining with IBM’s ‘Food Trust’ project back in 2017. The program is just one of IBM’s many blockchain-based projects and focuses on reducing potential outbreaks of food contamination-based diseases like E.coli.
New Zealand’s Cryptocurrency Controversy
On the other hand, whilst New Zealand has been an active partner in the positive and pioneering use of blockchain tech, it has not been a stranger to the troubles of the cryptocurrency industry.
The country’s regulators found themselves embroiled in the fall of cryptocurrency exchange ‘Cryptopia’, which went bust in early 2019 after a security hack. On January 14th, the exchange suspended all services and announced it was performing indefinite ‘unscheduled maintenance’. After a nervous 24 hours for users, the platform finally confirmed that it had, in fact, suffered “significant losses” and needed to “assess damages”.
In the following months, law enforcement agencies attempted to assess exactly what happened, how much cryptocurrency was stolen, and whether the theft could have been an inside job. Despite briefly attempting a partial reopening in March this year, the exchange eventually declared bankruptcy and liquidators were appointed on the 15th of May.
With the investigation still ongoing, it still remains unclear whether users who were holding assets on the exchange will receive compensation.
Growing Interest in cryptocurrency
Despite the negative publicity which surrounded the incident, New Zealanders do not appear to have been deterred from investing in cryptocurrency. The industry continues to thrive in the country, with local crypto exchanges like Bitprime gaining new customers on a daily basis. Most notably, gamers and gamblers in the country are turning to crypto to play online gambling and slots games like those found at www.newzealandslots.nz.
New Zealanders are, then, engaging with crypto to a much higher degree than most other countries. And whilst the reasons are not entirely clear, the phenomenon can likely in part be attributed to New Zealand’s high level of economic freedom.
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual financial and political report from U.S.-based think tank The Heritage Foundation, ranked New Zealand in the top six most ‘economically free’ countries in the world. The four pillars on which the metric is measured include ‘Rule of Law, Government Size, Regulatory Efficiency, and Open Markets.
The country ranks among one of many small island nations – including Malta and Singapore – that sit at the forefront of blockchain technology and its wider adoption. As larger economies elsewhere continue to vacillate on how Distributed Ledger Technology should be accommodated, New Zealanders are likely to count amongst the first major beneficiaries of the changes coming our way.