This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Supply Chain Management series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and supply chain management.
In this interview we speak with Martyn Walker, CEO of Activeledger, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the supply chain management business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Activeledger? Why and how did you begin?
MW: My son and I have a background in financial services, banking and payments software development. Prior to 2014, we operated as independent consultants to customers in the USA, Europe and South Africa. We returned to the UK in 2009 and began a software development consultancy in response to the banking crisis. Together we offered an emergency development service to conclude mission critical solutions abandoned due to inability to maintain high cost and contractor heavy projects.
In 2015, we were asked to build a laboratory to investigate the properties and principles of blockchain for a CSD/Clearing house. This exposed us to the difficulties of implementing blockchain for business and we began development of Activeledger, a development platform used by developers to create distributed ledger solutions.
2. Please describe your use case and how Activeledger uses blockchain:
MW: Activeledger enables supply chain participant adoption through simple integration and without noticeable disruption to current operating procedures. This means a supply chain can share information without sharing trade secrets. Automation by smart contracts ensures processes are handled correctly and the chain of custody of documents, materials and goods are handled efficiently. Transparency of operation to all members in the supply chain provides state in real time without reliance on manual administrative tasks.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
MW: MTI Shipping, a company which helps shipping, freight, and airfreight companies communicate information accurately and share that information with supporting services such as quality assessors, customs handling agents and end consumers. MTI built a drag and drop adaptor which enables ERP, CRM, EDI and other related systems to communicate with each other in the chain. Their development team combines data from disparate systems such as IoT devices and weigh bridges which become simple building blocks in their adaptor. This means developers from different areas within the supply chain community can quickly build solutions by dragging blocks onto a canvass and using a cursor to connect them. Activeledger provided the distributed ledger network and assisted with some of the smart contract development.
4. What other blockchain use cases in supply chain management are you excited about?
MW: We are developing a solution for a top-ten farmer in China. They will use Activeledger to release investment in the up and down lines of their supply chain and improve visibility across their farms, feed mills and trading companies.
They operate three types of farm; farmer owner, leased farm and staff, and their own farms. Each of these need varying support which includes animal stock, feed and veterinary services. Financial institutions have agreed to relinquish the need for guarantees and insurance institutions have agreed to provide assurance if given access to the raw data.
This will result in the release of cash tied up in their supply chain enabling them to spend more on animal welfare and research and development.
5. Where will Activeledger be in 5 years?
MW: Agility Sciences developed Activeledger to version 2 which has been released as an MIT Open Permissive project, anyone can use it, modify it, sell it, and retain IP in their modifications and the applications they build with it, no fee or license is required from us, furthermore, unlike ordinary open source licenses, they do not need to share the modifications they make with the community.
In five years, Activeledger users will breach 20,000 and Agility Sciences will focus on supporting the community and overseeing continued growth of the development platform. It will be funded by certifying partners, authorised to sell Service Level Agreements directly to their customers and will expand its professional services department as demand for system integration grows.
As part of the cybersecurity industry we operate in curious ignorance of the future and yet, cannot be fallible. Activeledger, already quantum aware, remains vigilant through initiatives such as Keybox, an Activeledger powered data storage solution has been selected by GCHQ as part of the NCSC program. With increasing demands for cyber security, Activeledger will be developing more systems like Keybox to keep data safe and yet ease access for legitimate use.