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Alibaba’s Logistics Affiliate Uses Blockchain to Detect Fraud In The Supply Chain Of Imported Goods

Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao and its e-commerce unit Tmall  have used blockchain technology to track, upload and verify logistical information of all imported goods on Tmall Global platform, according to a joint announcement released on February 27.


As blockchain provides a way to record data in a transparent, traceable and tamper-proof manner, the technology is harnessed by Cainiao in the supply chain to track information on goods manufacturing, transportation, customs clearance, inspection, and third-party inspection. Every product will be given a unique “ID” which is left for consumers to verify.

“Although blockchain is still in its infancy, the potential uses for it are far broader than cryptocurrencies. It will be widely used in cross-border online shopping.” A Cainiao’s official said, “Consumers can cross verify information about the goods which they have bought from overseas purchasing agents on Tmall with the help of logistics data uploaded by sellers, customs and other parties. Allowing adulterated goods to be imported by tampering with data on blockchain is as difficult as landing on Mars.”

The blockchain initiative has been implemented in various ports across China such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Tianjin,and more. Over 30,000 imported goods from more than 50 countries now can be tracked related information on the blockchain-based platfrom, the company said.

In addition, many foreign governments, including Britain, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, embassies, industry associations and multiple overseas big brands have engaged in this cross-border blockchain tracibility project. Other China’s state-owned institutions such as China Certification and Inspection Group(CCIG), China National Institute of Standardization also join the initiative,too.


All parties aim to customize an unified QR code in Tmall based on which they can synthesize a whole-process monitoring method. Plus, the Alibaba’s logistics unit hopes to leverage blockchain and Internet-of-Things(IoT) technology to create a decentralized supply chain traceability system globally in the future.

Alibaba has  doubled its efforts in blockchain business in recent years. Its payment arm Ant Financial taps blockchain as early as two years ago by building a blockchain R&D team in Ant Technology Lab. Ant Financial is also extending its blcochain efforts to improve transparency in philanthropy and enhance food tracking and safety. Also, it worked with China Construction Bank and online real estate agency Lianjia to launch a blockchain-based apartment rental platform in Xiongan New Area, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party on February14.

The Ant Technology Lab which has obtained 49 blockchain-related patents so far predicts that blockchain technology is poised to start generating a large-scale commercial use-cases over the course of 2018, and a new kind of blockchain architecture, known as Blockchain 3.0, will arrive to bring cross-chain transactions and data exchanges between different blockchains to reality this year.


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