Asset Traceability and Tracking Using Smart Contracts

Smart contracts have features that can be leveraged for a wide range of vital automated processes. Beside the hundreds of applications of smart contracts, asset traceability is a unique feature of this blockchain technology. We shall explore asset traceability with smart contract deployments for industrial purposes.

Blockchain-based Smart contract powered Asset Tracing

Blockchain technology has unlimited potential for applications. It is basically a decentralized and distributed ledger technology that appeared about a decade ago. One of the first blockchains was built for Bitcoin, though some reports suggest that similar technologies existed before the appearance of Bitcoin. Blockchain applications have reached almost every industry and sector of the global economy.

A smart contract is a pre-written condition comparable to traditional contracts, except that smart contracts are readable only by machines.  In other words, smart contracts are preset conditions, agreed upon by two or more parties, that execute automatically when all conditions are fulfilled. The major advantage is its trustlessness and the associated benefits. Smart contracts can also be used to significantly cut down transaction costs.

Smart contracts stemming from the Ethereum blockchain also found applications beyond the boundaries of Ethereum. Currently, many cryptocurrency exchanges use smart contracts to automate cryptocurrency trading, deposits, and withdrawals. The exchange can write a smart contract that automatically sends cryptocurrencies to user wallets given the pre-set condition of a user’s fiat deposit. This way, repetitive tasks can be automated securely and cheaply.

Deploying smart Contracts to Trace and Track Assets

The need for accurate traceability and asset tracking is a vital one in today’s commerce. Entities that demand asset tracking and traceability services range from consumers, product manufacturers, to middlemen. Basically, the entire supply chain needs an all-around efficient and robust asset tracking and traceability platform.

For example, take consumers of a popular products like smartphones. Market competition have led to duplication of products by firms looking to make quick profits from the sale of products bearing similar names of other legitimate firms. Traceability helps consumers identify the products they wish to purchase before actually making payments.

Product manufacturers always develop trademarks, serial numbers, and security codes that can be used to identify each product from factories. With blockchain, manufacturers can develop a decentralized application with a database of serial bar-codes or QR codes of all authentic products from the legitimate producer. Users and regulators can download this application and use it to verify the authenticity of products on the market. In this way, consumers can be confident of the origin and quality of the products before making a purchase, simply by using their smartphone camera to scan the QR code on these products.

Asset tracking, on the other hand, can also be built on a smart contract-powered system. Asset tracking systems have a variety of points of contacts where goods or products pass through. In a similar way, pre-assigned codes marked on the asset and broadcasted on a secure blockchain can be used to verify each asset.

A smart contract can be developed with the asset specific serial number or QR code fed into the contract. Using a device such as a smartphone or any other scanning device, the asset can be verified based on the pre-stored certified information.

The application, however, does not end here as further automation can still make the process faster and simpler. For instance, artificial intelligence can be leveraged to improve the efficiency and performance of smart contract-based asset tracking and traceability systems.

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