Blockchain and Logistics – its most promising use case? An overview of upcoming projects including Shipchain.io, VeChain, Waltonchain, Ambrosus, Modum and SophiaTX.

When firms across the globe first starting hearing about blockchain technology for integration with logistics systems, the association was with bitcoin – as a payment processor, rather than the underlying disruptive technology that could reduce costs and complexity for carriers. Once the education piece had been completed with stakeholders, it was quickly understood how logistics firms could leverage blockchain to their advantage.

There was a fantastic article from the NYT published back in March, that effectively boils down as to why blockchain can have such an impact in logistics:

At its heart, blockchain simply refers to a bookkeeping method that “chains” together entries so that they are very difficult to modify later. It provides a way for large groups of unrelated companies to jointly keep a secure and reliable record of their transactions.

Nathaniel Popper and Steve Lohr, the author of the article gives the example that a single container being shipped could require approvals and stamps from up to 30 people or authorities. These could include tax revenue authorities, national shipping and public health bodies.

We know Disney first started exploring blockchain back in 2014, and so did IBM with their Blue Coin project, that eventually become Openchain. The director of research at IBM Arvind Krishna openly admits it took him a fair bit of convincing to even properly look at the technology.

“That was the ‘aha’ for me,” Mr. Krishna said. “This was not really about digital payments, but establishing trust in transactions in general.” He called it “a technology that can change the world.”

We know now firms across the globe are heavily exploring blockchain, and IBM alone has 650 employee working on it, and they have 400 clients testing their products – one of those being Walmart. One of the largest providers of enterprise software SAP, has launched its Leonardo project to utilise blockchain, and set in it three key use cases on which to focus its efforts on. SAP asset intelligence, SAP distrusted manufacturing and SAP transportation management.

SAP is also a member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, who’s mission is to engage in education the transport industry, to bring about extracting the full potential of benefits that blockchain technology promises. Some of the key members of this alliance include UPS, McLeod software, FedEx, Penske, TMW systems, Convoy, and Bridgestone. Clearly, we can see large, multinational companies are taking blockchain seriously and developing systems. What will be covered now are those smaller firms based in crypto that have raised funds via ICOs, who can help to facilitate those companies seeking to integrate blockchain with their logistics systems.

VeChain $VEN

vechain

VeChain has recently come to the attention of many as they have started being a bit more public with announcements, but it’s actually a bit of a slow burning project. The VeChain tech was designed back in the second quarter of 2015, and since then the team have built upon several smart contract templates, and their own custom hardware.

From a Medium post by the VeChain Team

VeChain has developed a powerful blockchain-enabled enterprise software platform. The VeChain platform enables manufacturers to assign products with unique identities, which then allow manufacturers, supply chain partners and even consumers to interact with the product through the platform. It uses blockchain technology to ensure the security of the data collected, allocating private keys to all participants within the supply chain.

These IDs are stored on the blockchain, and physically put on the product with a NFC chip, QR code, or like WTC/Modum – a RFID tag. During further manufacturing of the unfinished product, or shipping with a carrier, or arriving at a retail location the ID can be interacted with and data updated on the blockchain.

One of China’s largest importer of fine wines (Direct Imported Goods) have already placed one million bottles of wine on VeChain’s platform in an effort to counter the import of fake wine. This could further be applied to other luxury or high spec goods that are often counterfeited.

In an important step for the company, VeChain recently became the first firm to pass PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Cryptocurrency Disaster Recovery Plan

VeChain spearheaded the first Cryptocurrency Disaster Recovery Plan (CDRP) that meets the demands of accredited firms and approved by PwC. This is the first of its kind in the world and sets a standard for corporate level DRP and risk management of internal or external controls on blockchain solution and cryptocurrency assets both on digital and physical wallets.

While this fantastic press, it’s important to note VeChain were part of PwC’s incubation program back in May 2017, and have had their resources and research at their disposal. It’s pretty easy to pass a set of standards with a firm you have been working with for close to a year. Jay Zhang, the finance director for VeChain was also a senior manager at PwC. According to their ideas of development VeChain have also been working with PwC and the Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Sciences to develop a blockchain cloud project that is for the verification of organic agricultural projects. While I can appreciate the plan, it’s pretty easy to create positive press with this kind of clearly long term partnership.

You can buy VeChain $VEN at Binance and KuCoin.

shipchain.io

shipchain airdrop

Imagine a fully integrated system across the entire supply chain–from the moment it leaves the factory, field, or farm–to delivering the finished product to the customer’s doorstep; federated in trustless, transparent blockchain contracts.

Shipchain seeks to utilise the Ethereum blockchain, using a side-chain to track geographic waypoints across smart contracts. These waypoints will be encrypted so only involved parties can access the data, but still retaining the benefits of an immutable blockchain. This allows better communication across the supply chain for customers, carriers and creators.

As detailed in the whitepaper, Shipchain is looking to address the following issues in the shipping market:

  • Bad tracking for end users
  • Lack of transparency
  • Poor accountability across the supply chain
  • Freight broker markup
  • Misaligned incentives, especially for carriers at the tail end of the chain.

The team is led by CEO John Monarch, the founder of Direct Outbound, which is currently one of the fastest growing 3PL companies in the US. Roger Crook the Global Head of Sales and e-Commerce at DHL Global Forwarding takes the Chief Strategy Office role. One of the more noted advisers is Al Pettenato, a former VP of XPO logistics and Senior VP of North America for DHL. A fairly strong team looking at the experience listed.

The ownership of the $SHIP token will bestow membership to the token holder, and will grant access to the blockchain for booking freight and tracking shipments. These transactions on the blockchain for shipments will be paid, and settled in tokens, giving a high utility factor to the token. Interestingly, there is also an incentive for the carriers at the end of the supply chain –

Tokens valued at up to 20% of each freight transaction will be given to the driver/carrier as “gamified” incentives for safe and timely deliveries, as well as environment focused such as reduced idle time. From there, drivers will either be able to sell their tokens on exchanges, or redeem those tokens via partnerships ShipChain will form for various rewards, such as gift cards, fuel discounts, and more. Q2 2018 will see the first integration with government-mandated ELD devices.

The Shipchain ICO has closed, but an airdrop is currently available at time of publish to members of their telegram group, link is here to their official site. Please check URLs, and remember to never give out your private key in case the site is compromised.

Modum $MOD

Previously two in depth articles have been published regarding this niche blockchain project seated in logistics:

Modum – Real blockchain utility, in a sea of vaporware. Part 1 – From the whitepaper to mass production.

Modum – Real blockchain utility, in a sea of vaporware. Part 2 – Concerns regarding the token utility and possible classification as a security.

Simply, Modum is a supply-chain monitor for the pharmaceutical sector, that ensures shipments are meeting temperature requirements to comply with EU law. It can impassively reduce cost per shipment for hauliers and ensures transparency/audit compliance by keeping the data from its sensors on the blockchain.

You can purchase Modum at Binance and KuCoin.

Ambrosus $AMB

ambrosus masternode

 

Ambrosus looks like the most direct competitor to $MOD, focusing on food and medicinal shipments. There so far has been no showcase of any sensor equipment, but according to some of their updates they also have a focus on data silos and management to speed up compliance and process analysis. In practical terms, they do seem a way behind modum with no evidence of pilots or partnerships going live, while Modum has their fourth pilot going live with their proprietary technology, and 10,000 sensors hitting mass production in Q1.

According to the Ambrosus roadmap, they are planning on releasing the full API set and dev tools in March 2018, then in June 2018 releasing the sensors for Ambrosus. According to one of the content managers Aneesh, the team are:

In the process of patenting and protecting many of the sensor technologies and the smart packaging and product capsules.

In the Food Sensors and Tracers PDF published on their site, it seems Ambrosus will first start with traditional sensors, then move forward in developing new sensors that can allow assessments of various analytes in gases, liquid and solids, including 02 and C02 levels, glucose, ammonia.

Ambrosus combines the innovations and inherent strengths of the hardware and the software parts that it is a disruptive solution. Naturally, as with every breakthrough, stakeholders also need to have a multidisciplinary comprehension to accept Ambrosus. Therefore, the design of the hardware part will be carried out incrementally. There is more than one solution to a specific case. We can start with already in-place sensors, then propose new monitoring systems, and finally fully embrace the digitalization concept by entirely redesigning the system into one using modern food tracers and biosensors.

While Modum fulfils a niche, clearly Ambrosus is looking to disrupt the whole chain of integrity across logistics. Another key differentiation from Modum is the possibility of decentralising by going down the masternode route, although not confirmed yet, is an option the CEO Angel Versetti confirmed on Reddit the team were considering.

You can buy Ambrosus $AMB at Binance and KuCoin.

Waltonchain $WTC

Waltonchain is another RFID-based solution, and recently Boxmining visted Waltonchain’s reserach center in Xiamen to have a look at their product demo. Like Modum and Ambrosus, they are seeking to incorporating tracking of physical goods into the blockchain, and thus preventing counterfeiting an loss of assets during transit. WTC will have the ability to write information from RFID straight to the blockchain without any need for an API interface, as WTC holds a patent which integrates memory with RFID.

WTC also has some different token mechanics, as it has the possibility of becoming a masternode if holding 5K+ tokens. This feature coming online in Q1, possibly just after mainnet comes online and the token-swap and genesis block have been completed.

Waltonchain, out of all the ICOs in the past two years have probably the most amount of partnerships that are currently not under an NDA. An incredibly comprehensive list has been put together, and is well worth the read. A few of the highlights include:

Note that many of these projects are not just limited to logistics, which could either showcase the versatility of blockchain and WTC, or could be a concern the company is overstretching itself.

You can buy Waltonchain $WTC at Binance and KuCoin.

SophiaTX $SPHTX

sophiatx

Full article is linked below, but SophiaTX seeks to disrupt SAP-using businesses by integrating blockchain to increase inefficiencies between firms. They have recently signed a joint letter of interest with a Riydh based logisitics company that each year handles more than 2 million tons of cargo.

SophiaTX – Blockchain for business. Blockchain integration with SAP and enterprise software.

As always, do your own research, this is not financial advice.

Any thoughts? Follow me on twitter!

Modum – Real blockchain utility, in a sea of vaporware. Part 2 – Concerns regarding the token utility and possible classification as a security.

After looking at what appears to be a solid business plan, it’s only fair to balance that out with any concerns and competition the project has, and will face.

One of the common criticisms of ICOs is the tokens investors are receiving in return for their funds. When the Raiden team announced an ICO with a token, there was some outrage at the idea of raising funds for a protocol that would allow further low cost, scalable token transfers. In the run up to the announcement of the ICO, it was assumed by the vast majority this would just be a next step for Ethereum, akin to the Byzantium hard-fork. Now to be fair, the Raiden team posted a fairly solid response over at their Medium, however it did put recent ICOs under a lens by the community for the utility of their tokens. Modum was no exception to that scrutiny.

Token Utility Concerns

Modum is no exception to this spike in scrutiny, and the main concern raised is:

The modum token is not a utility token, and as such is not utilised by the company in its product. Where is the value?

Completely true, the modum token is a vehicle containing profit-sharing and voting rights. The white-paper states – “The board of modum.io decides and declares the amount of dividends when there is a profit. A payment equivalent to this amount is converted to Ether and sent to the modum smart contract. The modum smart contract evaluates the current holdings and distributes the profits to the token holders in Ether. The voting and profit share smart contract is open source.” So, while the open source nature of the contract might make some of us feel better, what does the rest of that sentence tell us?

Startups outside of crypto typically take years to post profits. On top of that, the board of modum.io decides how much profit is distributed. In theory, even once modum posts a profit the board could just decline to payout any dividends. However, this is true of pretty much any publicly-listed company, and they still pay out dividends yearly. The key difference here is that owning shares of a publicly traded company is different from just a profit sharing token, as token-holders don’t own a share of the company. However we can see in the whitepaper in the next three years a third of the token supply (tokens locked here) will be distributed to the shareholders (some of those being on the board of directors). Thus, there is a clear incentive here for all parties to profit share.

The value of the mod token, like most publicly traded companies who payout a dividend is then directly linked to how successful (and profitable) the company is. Simple as that! Although there is no actual share of ownership, the voting right element does provide a component of control over some key steps listed on page 13 & 14 of the whitepaper, including further releasing of tokens locked by the smart contract on milestone 2, 3 and 4, with the last step hopefully completed in Q1 2020.

Previous profit-sharing tokens such as iconomi ($ICN) have actually moved away from a profit-sharing model, and instead opted for a token-burn. Iconomi’s main concerns were around the dividend ensuring regulators would take the token as a security and lead to heavier regulatory concerns. Also with the sheer quantity of token holders with poor data management, how to resolve the issue with ‘dead’ accounts receiving the dividend to no benefit, and the loss of others was a concern. The buyback was an easy fix to that issue. The full article is worth a read and will be interesting to see if modum’s model changes in the next few years.

Tokens as a Security

There has been a fair amount of discussion on tokens as securities as inevitably regulation starts to come into play. A couple of pieces worth reading are linked on their images, but to summaries, while nothing is formal YET, all tokens, not just profit-sharing ones like modum could be classified as securities. During the ICO modum confirmed they have been in discussion with FINMA (the Swiss regulatory body for financial market legislation, including tax law), and the below guidance was issued. ICOs are not yet covered by legislation.


Now even if you don’t even glance at the two PDFs linked above, there is just one quote I believe you can take from it:

“Due to the close proximity in some areas of ICOs and token-generating events with transactions in conventional financial markets, the likelihood arises that the scope of application of at least one of the financial market laws may encompass certain types of ICO model. This is also the case for ICO activities which aim to circumvent those provisions. Owing to the wide variety in structure of ICO models, FINMA can only carry out a conclusive regulatory assessment in specific cases. Currently, FINMA is assessing a number of such cases. Where financial market legislation has been breached or circumvented, enforcement proceedings will be initiated.”

So, modum have been clear since the ICO, they have been in touch with FINMA, and may indeed be once of the cases they are assessing. Nothing is set in stone as of yet, but its fair to say legislation is coming, and not just from the Swiss government. Markets are being disrupted across the globe, and being up to date on the latest legislation from your home country, and ICOs  you are investing in is essential. When the dividend is paid, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new wave of KYC requests for token-holders.

 

Token Economics

Image taken from whitepaper, page 13, figure 7.

 

Modum.io’s token split at ICO is seen in the above chart taken from the whitepaper. With the 30% of tokens held by modum being released at 4 different milestones across the next 2 years following a positive vote from token holders. Looking at the current etherscan breakdown of address holders, we can see a few points to touch on so far.

 

Modum so far is only listed on three well-used exchanges, Binance and KuCoin and EtherDelta. Binance’s hot and cold wallet, etherdelta, kucoin, and modum themselves hold around 35% of the total market cap, outside that only 3 wallets hold over 1% of  tokens. The vast majority of holders are small holders, hopefully pointing towards a market that is less likely to be manipulated. However with a a total supply of only 27.26 million tokens and with 94% of the volume only coming from Binance, we have seen huge sell/buy walls up. This token supply is also fixed.

Competition

There have been several recent ICOs looking to compete in the same market as $MOD, combining RFID sensors with blockchain tech.

Ambrosus $AMB

Ambrosus looks like the most direct competitor, focusing on food and medicinal shipments. There so far has been no showcase of any sensor equipment, but according to some of their updates they have a focus on data silos and management to speed up compliance and process analysis. In practical terms, they do seem a way behind modum with no evidence of pilots or partnerships going live, while modum has their fourth pilot going live with their proprietary technology, and 10,000 sensors hitting mass production in Q1.

From a token perspective, $AMB has a token supply of 361.5mil, with a market cap of 137.2mil USD.

You can buy Ambrosus $AMB at Binance and KuCoin.

Waltonchain $WTC

Waltonchain is another RFID-based solution, and recently Boxmining visted Waltonchain’s reserach center in Xiamen and had a look at their product demo. Like Modum and Ambrosus they are seeking to incorporating tracking of physical goods into the blockchain, and thus preventing counterfeiting etc.

WTC also has some different token mechanics, with the possiblity of becoming a masternode if holding 5K+ tokens.

You can buy Waltonchain $WTC at Binance and KuCoin.

WTC has a current market cap of 645mil USD, with a total supply of 70mil. This puts the valuation at $26USD per token, a massive sum. WTC has however just announced partnership with China Mobile IoT alliance, but the partnership has not been actually finialised, which caused a huge in the spike:

Modum is at time of publish is sitting at a market cap of 154mil USD, with a total supply of 27.26 mil tokens which can make it hugely attractive to potential investors with the small token supply. With partnerships to be announced in Q1, modum looks like a solid opportunity, even with a $10USD per token pricetag. While modum.io is focusing on pharma shipments to begin with, logistics integrity tracking is easily something that can be expanded or licenced out, and with relative first-mover advantage, modum is ready for big things this year.

You can buy modum.io $MOD at Binance and KuCoin.