Founded in 2016, iov42 is a blockchain-based platform that digitises the processes of a business – envisioned as a way to ensure supply chain transparency and create a culture of trust from source to sea.
While the service is used in a multitude of industries, it could have particularly significant effects in the circular economy as public perception increasingly calls for sustainability throughout the supply chain – with evidence to back it. Providing an online footprint of exactly where a business is getting its materials from (and how much carbon is being emitted in the process), can help brands cement their green status, and even provide incentive to clean up their act for those lagging behind.
The group was also recently selected by the European Commission to potentially help guide the new European Blockchain Services Infrastructure – an initiative aimed at connecting European public service networks. Here, we spoke with iov42 CTO Ryan Worsley about what this new role could mean, as well as what part the group’s technology will play in our digitising world.
Can you describe iov42 and what makes it different from other similar products on the market?
At iov42, we have developed an identity-centric platform for building trust within and across organisations.
We digitally codify an organisation’s processes on our platform – whether that’s a timber supply chain or a bank’s mortgage applications – and we provide proof that their rules are being followed by everyone involved. We do this all in a unique way built around verified identities, so users can completely trust what’s going on and who they’re dealing with.
One of the longest-standing motivations of iov42 has been to address a number of the issues associated with more traditional blockchains; including energy usage, limited scalability, and a lack of governance. That’s why we created something built upon the well-advertised features of blockchain — such as security, transparency, and immutability — while leveraging a combination of standard and pioneering technologies to make our technology scalable, interoperable, regulatory-compliant, and energy-efficient.
What are its benefits and what industry challenges does it seek to remedy?
With online transactions, individuals are becoming increasingly conscientious of questions like: Do I know who’s involved in a given exchange? Am I confident in what I’m exchanging? How do I consent to this exchange? Do I have proof the exchange happened? Am I sure this exchange is allowed?
Our platform can be used to answer these questions in a number of ways. First, each platform user has a unique, verified identity. Robust identity modelling is the basis for all interactions on the platform, guaranteeing accountability for every actor, the assets they handle, and the actions they carry out.
Our platform also supports ‘unique asset’ modelling, which your readers might know as NFTs. That means everything from land deeds, to government loans, to a batch of emergency vaccines is digitally represented, stored, and tracked. Unlike many NFTs, we believe that such tokens should represent things with real world value or utility. We build trust into the representations of these assets, as well as identities, through claims endorsed by reputable third parties via cryptographic signatures. Not only does this enable identities to make verifiable claims like “I’m an official FSC certifier,” but this also allows verified information to be assigned to assets, like “the carbon footprint of this asset’s life cycle is 350 kg CO2.”
By building on this model, we’re providing organisations with the peace of mind that their interactions are secure and that all rules and regulations relevant to their use case are being met. In the bioeconomy sector, these needs could range from verifying and recording sustainability certificates, to tracking the provenance and movement of a commodity from cradle to cradle, to providing visibility and accountability across supply chain networks.
What’s one thing you would like the bio-based industry to do better and why?
I am not a bio-based industry expert, so it would be difficult to say what this particular industry could be doing better. What I would say is that across almost every organisation, there are interactions and processes occurring online which are currently at risk from corruption, errors, or a lack of transparency and security. This manifests itself differently for different industries, sectors, and organisation styles.
For example, we recently launched an application called Timber Chain after working with industry leaders familiar with the challenges and opportunities of combatting timber supply chain corruption. Timber Chain uses the iov42 platform to provide security across timber supply chains. The movement of commodities, and their required certifications, are all recorded on Timber Chain, which can be accessed by multiple stakeholders. This is helping to make the market much less fragmented and more efficient, while reducing errors and corruption.
iov42 was recently selected by the European Commission to help shape the future of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI). Could you tell us a bit about the purpose of this initiative?
EBSI is the first EU-wide blockchain infrastructure being created in an effort to make public services more trustworthy and accessible to European citizens.
The specific project that iov42 has been selected to be a part of is the EU blockchain pre-commercial procurement (PCP), which aims to develop and test new, improved blockchain-based services. The PCP has been split into three phases, with the initial three-month phase focusing on how the infrastructure can best take shape. The following two phases will be dedicated to developing and testing specific use cases.
What’s next for the company?
The team is hopeful that we’ve been successful in moving forward to the following phases of the EU Blockchain PCP. That would give us the opportunity to work with other innovative organisations across Europe to develop two potential use cases for the EBSI: digital product passports that aim to enhance the traceability of products and their components; and the EU-wide management of digital intellectual property rights.
Technology roadmap wise, we have several new functionalities that we plan to add in the next year. These developments will further improve the flexibility and scalability of our platform and the use cases it can support and, I believe, will be an exciting step forward for what is possible in terms of blockchain-based solutions for enterprises and governments.
We’re also continuously having conversations with organisations interested in enhancing their security, efficiency, and trustworthiness. These can range from textiles, to digital identity solutions, to health care.