Richemont Director Jin Keyu Joins Blockchain Startup as Adviser

NEWS
Wolfie Zhao and Chuan Tian
Jul 12, 2018 at 09:30 UTC  |  Updated  Jul 17, 2018 at 05:25 UTC

Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods giant that owns Cartier, will potentially utilize blockchain in a move aimed to bring transparency to its supply chain.

Jin Keyu, a renowned economist and an associate professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) who was appointed by Richemont as a board member last year, said during a speech at an event on Thursday that she believes there is a potential for blockchain applications in the luxury goods industry, including tracing the origin of diamond and controlling the "parallel market".

"Even for luxury goods companies, for example, Cartier, whose parent company is Richemont on which I am a board member, is paying attention to blockchain technology. And I personally believe blockchain technology does have the potential to benefit the industry," she told the audience, adding:

"The business owners in this industry need to know where the diamonds, the stones, the gold come from, trace it back to the mine or recycling plant. For watches being sold, both of the sellers and buyers would like to trace the products' afterlife, authenticate them, after-sales treatment of pre-owned repairs. The technology might also be used to control parallel markets."

During her speech Jin also discussed her academic interests and reasons for her move into the blockchain industry, adding that she is to join China-based blockchain startup Ultrain as an adviser to contribute her expertise on macroeconomics.

Jin argued that blockchain projects are often trying to experiment and build monetary policies from scratch, without learning from existing academic research in the field.

She said:

"To me, blockchain essentially restructured the entire economic spectrum. ... I think it's extremely interesting because, to solve this broad issue, we need not only microeconomic theories ... but also macro ones such as currency, monetary policy and regulation."

During a fireside chat with CoinDesk, Jin indicated she also plans research to explore questions in the crypto world from the angle of macroeconomics. That work will potentially include designing a cryptocurrency which can perform three essential functions of a currency: storage of value, stability, and unit of account.

Originally from Beijing, Jin became one of the youngest tenured professor at LSE after having obtained her BA, MA and PhD from Harvard. She is frequently invited to appear on international business news outlets for her macroeconomic expertise on issues pertaining to China.

Jin Keyu image courtesy of Ultrain; diamonds image via Shutterstock

*The story has been updated to include a more accurate translation of the quotes

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