How blockchain will allow for fewer counterfeit goods and faster product recalls

by MR Magazine Staff

While widely known as the underlying technology for Bitcoin, blockchain may be best understood as a means of storing data. Generally speaking, a blockchain — and yes, there are many — is a sequence of records, shared among a network, that are both accessible and immutable, meaning no member can change or delete the data within them without invalidating the rest of the sequence. The exact definition is still a matter of debate among experts, but most agree that the aim, at least, is to produce a ledger that’s difficult to tamper with and easy to verify independently. A retailer, for instance, might want to record its end-to-end supply chain data on a blockchain in order to track inventory or combat counterfeits (more on both of these ideas later). For this to work, each entity — from factory to distributor to shipper to warehouse to store — would need to participate so that there are no gaps in the data. Then every time a new transaction is logged (say, when a container is scanned at a port or an item is placed on a shelf), it could be validated and bundled with other transactions into a “block,” which would be linked to other blocks to form a blockchain. Copies of the data would be stored across multiple devices called “nodes,” creating a decentralized system that acts as a safeguard against hacking. Read more at Vox.