marzo 12, 2018

Startup uses blockchain, to ensure minerals come from ethical sources

Esta noticia de usar la tecnología blockchain para verificar las fuentes de los minerales adquiridos por grandes compañías parece más una intención de aplicar lo que se llama RSC (Responsabilidad Social Corporativa) o ¿lavado de imagen?. Veremos dónde nos lleva todo esto.

Dawn Jutla says her company has the technology to help put an end to the shady practice of mining precious and industrial metals to finance war.

Ms. Jutla, the president and CEO of Halifax-based startup Peer Ledger, is staking its future on a blockchain technology called Mimosi that it says can track precious metals throughout the supply chain to ensure every milligram purchased by buyers has come from an ethical source and is not funding armed conflict in war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

«This is important because of the damage buyers are seeing being done at the source mines among the Indigenous people who live in the area,» says Ms. Jutla, a professor of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. «When I say damage I am talking about children being raped and used for labour in mines. End users of these metals are trying to use their purchasing power to prevent that.»

 But tracking the origin of metals like gold and silver to ensure they don’t come from a mine run by armed groups can be difficult. For example, a bar of gold is usually produced from ore from several sources requiring end users to track those multiple sources. And while standards, programs and guidelines exist aimed at verifying the source of these metals, it can be time-consuming and costly to gather that documentation.

However, Ms. Jutla says there is mounting pressure from the international community to stop the unethical production of minerals, and she says Peer Ledger’s Mimosi product provides a solution to this problem. Mimosi uses a private permissioned blockchain, which chronologically and permanently logs information that’s copied across a computer network accessed by multiple collaborating parties. When a transaction is carried out, it’s grouped together in a cryptographically protected block. In the case of the Mimosi technology, every transaction involving a source of ore can be linked back to older blocks containing previous sales transactions for the ore. This allows Mimosi users to trace gold and other precious and industrial metals (mainly tin, tantalum and tungsten) from the refiner, to the processor, to the distributor.

 But can the startup be successful selling a technology that’s largely unknown and few people understand? Toronto’s William Mougayar, an entrepreneur, advisor and author of the book The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology, says nothing is certain in the startup game. «Getting users and customers is the biggest challenge any startup has. Customers are typically reluctant to change habits if they are happy with their current solutions,» Mr. Mougayar says. «It’s too early to tell if Peer Ledger will be successful before seeing real signs of traction and customer engagements.»