#fishcoin360, the Seafood and Mobile Industry come together to leverages blockchain and enable incentives for data sharing across supply chains
By Annie Opel, Communications Manager, Eachmile.
Thai Union Group PCL., True Telecom, Eachmile Technologies, Second Muse and Qidian Blockchain University come together at GSMA Mobile 360 – Digital Societies to discuss, how can we incentivize data sharing in fragmented seafood supply chains that often begin in the developing world.
The Seafood Industry
Seafood is one of the largest industries on the planet but unfortunately, upwards of 90% of global fish stocks are at capacity or in decline, approximately 50% of the seafood we harvest is thrown away, and mislabeled seafood can be as high as 86% depending on the species. With a rapidly increasing consumer demand for seafood all over the world, inefficiencies and unsustainable practices need to be addressed.
Fishcoin’s introduction to video and overview of the seafood industry
It is difficult to trace seafood back to its original point of harvest due to the highly fragmented nature of seafood supply chains. Regulators, retailers, chefs and consumers are demanding to know the story behind our seafood. The lack of transparency and data-backed trust will soon be a barrier to market access and will make it hard for buyers and consumers to make choices that align with their policy or their values.
“The seafood industry is weighed down by a range of inefficiencies and inequalities that often result in negative environmental impacts, human rights abuses, and value accumulating at the top,” says Stephanie Arrowsmith, Asia Engagement Lead at Second Muse. “At Eachmile Technologies, we believe in creating solutions that drive change and unlock value. We do this by using technology to transform agriculture and seafood supply chains through collecting data that can meaningfully inform management and processes.” says Alistair Douglas, Founding Partner of Eachmile Technologies.
What this really comes down to is a lack of data and incentives for data collection. The seafood industry would greatly benefit from having data to verify the source, underpin certifications, and drive efficiency and innovation, but the fragmented nature of the industry makes it difficult to coordinate, identify inefficiencies, and keep producers and suppliers accountable. While small scale fishers and seafood farmers typically have lower levels of digital literacy, they can be highly incentivized using mobile airtime in exchange for collecting and sharing harvest and supply chain data.
Dr. Darian McBain, Global Director of Sustainable Development for Thai Union leads the Fishcoin field test with the Eachmile Technologies team
While consumers are beginning to drive a change in market demand for sustainable seafood, brands, regulators and governments are also requiring traceability within the seafood industry. For example, the recently instituted U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program requires that chain of custody be provided for 15 different seafood species or species groups all the way back to the farm or boat prior to import into the United States. There is a clear need for data sharing across supply chains. Data sharing enables seafood to have a story with content about the supply chain. This content gives chefs and consumers greater confidence that the seafood they are consuming is authentic and legal so they can make buying decisions that align with their values.
That is why a group of industry experts came together to create Fishcoin, a blockchain based solution that combines the mechanism for data sharing with a scalable incentive (pre-paid mobile top-ups) that is meaningful to the millions of fishers and fish farmers around the globe. The Fishcoin ecosystem is a peer to peer network that links fishermen and fish farmers at the point of harvest to global seafood supply chain actors, ranging from aggregators, processors, wholesalers and retailers, and looks to not replace fiat trade but compliment it. The success of this project is amplified by the network of stakeholders involved which includes the GSMA as this initiative aligns with the interest of mobile network operators in seafood producing nations.
“Thai Union considers traceability the backbone of sustainability, and it is increasingly evident innovative technology such as Fishcoin have a chance to play a large role in our efforts to achieve sustainability in the fishing industry,” said Dr. Darian McBain, Thai Union’s Global Director for Sustainable Development. “Increasingly consumers want to know the food on their plate is safe and sourced ethically—Fishcoin provides both the mechanism and the reward for record-keeping, enhancing traceability and transparency by incentivizing accurate reporting from catch to consumption.”
Mobile, Data Sharing and Supply Chains
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.
Mobile network operators play a major role in the facilitation of this data sharing as the majority of these fishermen have limited economic access to the internet. Recently, mobile operators have rolled out low power wireless network, LTE-M and NB-IoT. Mobile money services like Safaricom’s mPesa, Dialog Axiata’s EZ-Cash and the bKash mobile financial service in Bangladesh operating under the authority of Bangladesh Bank have been a driver of financial inclusion and inclusive growth. Mobile operators facilitate the Fishcoin ecosystem while also benefiting from expanding their user base to previously unconnected individuals.
“Mobile Operators that make up the membership of the GSM Association and its over 4 billion unique subscribers represent the ultimate distributed network that powers the world’s data infrastructure. In many ways, GSM technology is a precursor to Blockchain in its approach and protocol functionally harmonizing other technologies like IoT, AI, hardware like mobile phones and connected vehicles.” says Terence Wong from GSMA
For example, the GSMA has a dedicated agricultural program called mAgri which forges partnerships between mobile operators, technology providers, and agricultural organizations. By providing deep technical expertise to service providers, the GSMA’s mAgri team supports scalable commercial mobile services that impact small-scale farmers and the agricultural industry at large. Fishcoin can easily scale through this network while providing opportunities for the development of further solutions on top of the Fishcoin platform.
“Mobile Network Operators are a key interface for global adoption of blockchain, and supply chains are a key use case” says Arin Pruksanusak, Head of IoT of True Telecom Thailand. “Mobile has had a transformative impact on supply chains as seen in the GSMA mAgri Programme from smallholder livelihoods, sensors ranging from soil to water to air to bio metrics, precision agriculture but what has been lacking has been the incentive to share data. We are excited by the potential of Fishcoin as an open source initiative leverage the power of blockchain with the scale and capabilities of mobile networks to standardize data sharing incentives across the seafood industry.”
Bespoke projects run by different mobile operators will struggle to reach the scale, impact, or scope of this project because of their lack of specific seafood industry knowledge. By incorporating IoT technology, for example, fishers and fish farmers can collect data to track their environmental impact, health of their fish, or the wellbeing of their workers. This can be through gear sensors, water quality or temperature sensors, facial recognition, and even geotagging.
GSMA and Fishcoin Connect Supply and Demand
The Fishcoin ecosystem provides benefits for a wide range of stakeholders in the seafood industry. It benefits producers by providing a low-input way to earn mobile top-ups that can be converted to data while also pushing out bad players from the industry. GSMA member mobile operators engaged in the Fishcoin ecosystem will increase their market and profitability by promoting the use of data in an audience they would not have otherwise reached. Distributors and brands will benefit from a data driven seafood industry, as more transparent and traceable supply chains enable new data-backed product and brand marketing opportunities. This whole-chain traceability will attract more buyers, enable more equitable distribution of value and secure longer lasting contracts with proven sustainability credentials that derisk the supply chain.
“This protocol has the potential to change the seafood industry and because of the massive size of the industry and the sheer volume of transactions, it may very well become one of the world’s most significant implementations of tokenization for sustainable purposes.” Says Wesley Xia, North America Regional Partner of THBU (水木未名) Capital and Co-Founder of the only Chinese blockchain University, Qidian.