Highlights of IvanOnTech's Interview with OriginTrail

Popular YouTube blockchain educator IvanOnTech recently visited the headquarters of game-changing supply chain project OriginTrail in Belgrade, which has recently partnered with software giant Oracle.

The visit featured an extensive interview with the founding team of OriginTrail that covered their vision, expectations, protocol development, their partnership with Oracle, among many other topics.

The news of Oracle teaming up with OriginTrail to offer more secure data sharing on the distributed ledger is a certified bonus for the latter, as more secure data sharing is a vital component for large-scale communication between organizations.  

For those unaware, OriginTrail is developing a protocol for global supply chain systems to communicate with each other — one language for all interconnected supply networks.

The project differs from others in the supply chain niche in that it targets the higher-level problem of how different supply chain platforms can communicate with each other. With so many different projects — VeChain, Waltonchain, and CargoCoin, to name a few — preparing their own supply chain platforms, the question remains of how these platforms and the organizations utilizing them would be able to communicate.

If efficiency and transparency are the key benefits of bringing Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) to supply chains, then seamless communication between different entities using different ledgers will be absolutely necessary.

The OriginTrail team has already run pilots and formed several partnerships, onboarding more members to its TRACE Alliance, a non-profit composed of businesses, academics, and institutions who seek to design practical supply chain solutions.

OriginTrail Management Encourages Interoperability

Ivan interviewed the founders of OriginTrail, with a strong focus on how bad data could corrupt operations on a blockchain, especially when those involved hold sensitive data pertinent to many millions of dollars worth of products and services.  

The interview began with Ivan asking the founders about why they wanted to build OriginTrail and how the idea was formed, to which Chief Operating Officer Žiga Drev responded by getting straight to the point of authenticity:

If you look at supply chains nowadays, especially food supply chains… almost one-third of executives in supply chains claims that they cannot vouch for authenticity of ingredients they put into end products. So that’s a very staggering statistic.

The Ideas Behind OriginTrail

OriginTrail’s conception arrived far back in 2011, when the founders were students:

For that reason, back in 2011, when we were students…[we implemented] a very rudimentary system to track beef products. In 2013, we decided this makes a lot of sense and this is how we launched OriginTrail. [Later] we saw that blockchain brings a lot of potential and we started implementing the blockchain into our existing solutions.

Privacy and scalability are still major concerns for blockchains, and Ivan asked the founders how OriginTrail’s technical solutions can overcome these challenges and what innovative ideas the protocol would bring.

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Branimir Rakić remarked that both data security and cost are serious issues to be tackled.

Not only do you have trouble with scaling, of course, but putting a lot of data also costs money. We realized that decentralizing this data has to be cheaper…[while also] retaining the interoperability and interconnectivity of this data.

Cost Reduction A Priority

This motivated the team to use the GS1 standards, for the purposes of easy integration and standardization. Regarding cost-saving, Rakić elaborated,

[The protocol] also saves in two additional ways. We do not store data on the blockchain forever… you don’t necessarily needn’t to know in 20 years about something that expired a month ago. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to replicate [the data] fully on all the nodes. You can use some other mechanism to keep it decentralized while also keeping the cost lower.

Data immutability is critical to successful supply chain operation, and OriginTrail is using digital fingerprinting to help prevent tampering.

In response to how the network will recognize a malicious actor, Rakić said:

The more data sources you get to claim a certain thing, the more credible this information is. So, in that sense, when you have a very long supply chain with lots of actors, you get, in a way, a consensus of what happened in the history of the product in the chain.

All familiar information to those who know a little bit about blockchain then, but OriginTrail’s adherence to GS1 standards compels companies to provide a very certain set of data to be able to use the protocol, which aids the consensus protocol and ensures that a malicious actor cannot succeed. The protocol is specifically tailored for supply chains because of this standardization.

Data points concerning items on the supply chain would be such things as a barcode and an expiry date.

Using a cup of yoghurt as an example, the team stated that both data points would allow a user to identify the exact product and all relevant information. Some other products may require additional data points. A demonstration of a working application showed the exact farms from which the milk for the yoghurt was produced.

Interoperability Key to Success, Oracle Partnership to Enhance Business Value

When asked about how OriginTrail can expect to distinctly transform trade and transport, given that there are so many players in this niche, Chief Executive Officer Tomaž Levak said:

We’ve seen a lot of different entrants come to the space over the past couple of years. What we see as ourselves being different is that we came through our own experience as to what was missing… how to provide that data scalability, because that was what in essence was missing. Supply chains are about data. So when we look at other competitors, especially from the blockchain perspective, we see ourselves as compatible because we do not focus on the blockchain layer. We see OriginTrail being a very open ecosystem [with respect to interoperability].

Ivan then visited Oracle’s office in Slovenia and asked executives about the significance of the partnership with OriginTrail, the response to which was as follows:

I think this is a true partnership because we are trying to leverage business value from both sides. OriginTrail is kind of a middleware which relies on the blockchain platform underneath and that platform  is able and supposed to synchronize all the data necessary for the business value across the blockchain.

OriginTrail’s mainnet recently launched on December 7. The launch is good news for the team as it heads into 2019 with the intention to rope in more partners and enhance interoperability.

Supply chain is without a doubt one of blockchain’s most suitable applications, so there’s much to be gained from a project like OriginTrail.

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