be held. “Once the impact on public health that is made by
blockchain traceability can be quanti;ed, regulators will
soon take this into account as a more informative way to
make decisions with regard to food safety,” Arnold says.
While blockchain is often connected to digital currency,
most retailers believe they are nowhere near ready to
accept this type of tender. Perry Woodin, founder of
Node;; and chief strategy o;cer of HashChain—which
just acquired Node;;—says some grocers may have
already ventured into the world of cryptocurrency and
don’t even know it. “A good example is Apple Pay, which
is in almost every point-of-sale system right now. But
Apple Pay has also started its own digital currency, Apple
Cash,” which Woodin says is already being used. “They
don’t even realize they’re using digital currency.”
The top thing retailers need to keep in mind about many
types of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, Woodin says, is
that when it is accepted as a point-of-sale system, every
transaction is a taxable event. Standard payment meth-
ods such as cash and credit cards are subject to standard
income tax. The di;erence with digital currency is that it
needs to be converted to U.S. dollars, which will accrue a
gain or a loss based on the type of cryptocurrency, and will
be considered as property by the IRS.
“Tracking that information can be pretty daunting for a
retailer,” says Woodin. However, there’s a light at the end
of the tunnel, he adds, as companies such as Alt Thirty-Six
are beginning to pop up and help retailers sort through
these transactions. “They’re a gateway provider, so they
provide the hardware and everything that goes along with
point-of-sale, and they are starting to integrate digital currency and use our system in order to provide the retailers
with the accounting information that they would need,” he
says. “Our system itself generates U.S. dollar-denominated
ledgers, so it looks just like anything anybody would be
used to seeing when dealing with credit cards or dollars.”
While the above primer discusses how retailers can connect
with customers through supply chain transparency, what
about speaking to them on a more direct level?
Blockchain technology on the horizon will allow
retailers to keep track of their customers’ preferred
products and o;er them personalized deals.
Nucleus Vision, for example, has created tech-
nology that can recognize shoppers’ international
mobile equipment identity ;IMEI; and, with their
permission, can create personalized o;erings for
opt-in consumers as soon as they enter the store.
The company offers a completely transparent
ecosystem that will also reward shoppers with
cryptocurrency while giving users control of their data to
decide whether or not they want to shop that way.
“A better way of connecting directly to the consumer is
giving them the ability to be” reminded about and incentiv-
ized to buy products they love, says Dudley. “It’s very excit-
ing from the standpoint of allowing” mutual connectivity
with consumers and partners across the purchase path.
Peter Fedchenkov, founder of INS Ecosystem, says
another way to use blockchain technology in this way is to
think about it as an “if this, then that” agreement that auto-
matically executes when the requirements are ful;lled.
As such, he says, a simple, smart contract may look
like this: If buyer X buys three bottles of soda, retailers
can reward the buyer with discount Y. “The beauty of the
smart contract is that it’s fully automated, and therefore
very e;cient,” he says. “As soon as the buyer ful;lls the
requirements, the discount is rewarded—no back o;ce
needed, and no one required to count stamps.”
Keeping It Confidential
The buzz about blockchain also includes its ability to keep
information extremely secure and ward o; hacking. This
means that the technology could allow retailers to rest
easier when keeping track of sensitive information such
as their customers’ credit card numbers and sta; members’ personal details.
Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty
Produce, says this type of security could be useful for
human resources teams, who are responsible for keeping
personal information such as Social Security numbers
safe. “HR functions would be a perfect use for blockchain;
you store personal ;les and employee information in a
blockchain format and then actually give people access
to all relevant information, without divulging the part you
want to keep locked up,” she says.
Further, since blockchain allows retailers to share certain blocks of information while keeping other details
locked, the technology can also help protect a company’s intellectual property or trade secrets, says Caplan.
“There’s so much information as a supplier that we have
to have at our ;ngertips, but that we don’t want to give
away,” she says.
Global market value of
blockchain technology in 2017.
Source: Market Reports Center
There’s so much information as a
supplier that we have to have at our
fingertips, but that we don’t want to
give away.” —Karen Caplan, Frieda’s Specialty Produce