The BLOCKCHAIN
A BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY TO MEET THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY

What is BLOCKCHAIN ?

Blockchain is a shared register where all authorized participants are required to verify transactions. Each new transaction is permanently linked to the previous blocks of information, making it a chain of blocks, or a blockchain.  Once recorded, it is impossible for one party to go back and change information without the change being visible and validated by their peers.

Our partner, Sara Tucci, explains in this video made by ARTE how the blockchain works and why it’s being talked about it so much.

Qu'est-ce que la blockchain ?
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WHY DO WE SAY THAT BLOCKCHAIN IS
TAMPER-PROOF?

It is important to understand that is impossible to change previous-recorded data directly because each block is “sealed” once it has been added. Thus, it is not possible to go back and delete or modify previous entries; in order to add or edit information in a blockchain, you need to create a new block.  We should also note that every block in the chain is replicated on all of the nodes (meaning all of the computers connected to the blockchain network). This replication is what makes blockchain secure.

WHO USES THE BLOCKCHAIN, AND WHY?

The first use of the blockchain dates back to 2008: the invention of Bitcoin. This cryptocurrency was born out of the desire to offer an electronic currency without the need for intermediaries: neither the intervention of third parties for exchanges and payment, nor the supervisory body for monetary creation (according to an article by Satoshi  Nakamoto).

Today, the financial sector remains the primary user of this technology. The energy, insurance and healthcare sectors have also begun to use it to digitize and secure transactions. In the agri-food industry, blockchain has been booming since 2018. The number of use-cases are multiplying, mainly around the traceability of products throughout the supply chain.

For example, between a dairy farmer and a milk consumer, there may be many intermediaries: a cooperative, a dairy, a manufacturing plant, a brand, a retailer, etc.  Blockchain has emerged as a particularly suitable technology to track products as they move through the food chain.

WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?

The mechanism responsible for the over-consumption of energy in blockchain is mining. However, only public blockchains use this process, as their aim is to duplicate the information recorded endlessly in order to keep it secure.  Public blockchains are particularly used for cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, etc.) unlike private, permission-based blockchains such as Hyperledger Fabric, which is the blockchain Connecting Food uses.

Without the need for mining nor proof of work, the environmental footprint of private blockchains is in no way greater than the energy consumption of a home computer.

WHY WOULD ONE USE BLOCKCHAIN?

To reduce the number of intermediaries

Thanks to consensus amongst all of the network’s players, transactions are validated by peers and not by a central authority. Smart contracts allow transaction registration to be directly linked to the execution of a pre-specified condition, removing the need for third-party intervention. Thus, blockchain technology acts as a “virtual notary”.

 

To bring more transparency

One of the advantages of blockchain is that it is not managed by a centralized computer that stores all transactions. Each participant in the blockchain network has their own node and validates transactions recorded in the distributed register.

 

To share information in a secure manner

Blockchain is a shared register which is accessible to all participants in the network, who can enter and/or view information based on the network’s permissions:

Public blockchains: open to all

Permissioned blockchains: access and use is reserved for network members.

Today, the financial sector remains the primary user of this technology. The energy, insurance and healthcare sectors have also begun to use it to digitize and secure transactions. In the agri-food industry, blockchain has been booming since 2018. The number of use-cases are multiplying, mainly around the traceability of products throughout the supply chain.

 

WHAT KIND OF BLOCKCHAIN DO WE USE?

Connecting Food has chosen to base their blockchain on Hyperledger Fabric, which is the most used infrastructure in enterprise blockchain applications. It is said to be “the blockchain for business.”

Indeed, Hyperledger Fabric is a private, permission-based blockchain:  Connecting Food and other players of the blockchain share the nodes. The advantage of this type of blockchain is that each player in the network gives their consent to share certain pieces of information, while still allowing other data points to remain confidential (customers, price…).

Hyperledger Fabric is supported by the Linux Foundation.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS?