Ant Financial, a payments affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is poised to launch its own blockchain-as-a-service platform next month, alongside a rice-tracking application intended to tackle counterfeit products.
Announced Tuesday, the firm has partnered with the municipal government of the Chinese city of Wuchang to deploy a consortium blockchain for tracking the entire production process of locally grown rice.
Located in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province, Wuchang is known for the high quality of a specific type of local rice. However, over the past years, news reports have revealed that packages delivered from the region were sometimes mixed with rice of lower quality.
Starting from Sept. 30, every package of "Wu Chang rice" sold by flagship stores on Alibaba's Tmall e-commerce platform will display a QR code that customers can scan using Alipay to obtain information about the food's origin.
Ant Financial said its distributed network is deployed among participating nodes including flagship stores' rice producers, Wuchang's Bureau of Quality and Technology Supervision, logistics supplier Cainiao and the Tmall platform.
The goal is to create a public ledger that contains unique information for each rice package so that any data discrepancy with the counterfeit products can be easily spotted.
"Consumers will be able to access production and logistics information including where the rice was harvested, which type of seed was used, and other details associated with the harvesting, packaging and transportation of the rice," the company said in the statement.
Further, Ant Financial said it expects to launch its blockchain-as-a-service platform in September – opening up its blockchain development tools for more enterprises.
In April, Alibaba announced that it was trialing a different blockchain-based supply chain app in order to prevent food fraud. That project is being carried out in partnership with Australian healthcare firm Blockmores and New Zealand dairy product maker Fonterra.
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