Among the several ways that GoodChain uses blockchain, perhaps the most important is to secure information. Blockchain enables a token-economy that incentivises actors in the system and manages trust between them with as a result of the security of information. Actors in the ecosystem include suppliers, FMCG brand owners, causes receiving donations, consumers, and service-providers e.g. inspection services or unique product identifier issuers. One of the main goals of the GoodChain Foundation is, after all, addressing the lack of trust between consumers and brands and blockchain provides security that is increased as GoodChain gets bigger.
Why is GoodChain using blockchain?
What does GoodChain stand for?
The “Good” in GoodChain comes from being “good for business”. Economic benefit can be gained by participating in the GoodChain via good will and loyalty for brands, through availability of product provenance, product rewards, and the chance to participate in charity for consumers, and by direct financial support to suppliers and supply chain service providers. The "Chain" is a reference to the interconnected nature of trade and humanity and also serves as a reference to blockchain technology.
How are physical assets stored on the blockchain?
To track physical assets on the blockchain, the first step is creating a digital identity, or a digital twin, that becomes the biography of a product from creation to disposal. Whether we are tracking physical attributes, ownership, or observations of a product, for example a customs inspection, all this information is stored and mirrored on the digital twin. Imagine that any item in the world can be assigned its own, unique, IP address leading to details about anything that happens to the item. The first event in the lifecycle of digital twin is minting on the blockchain. The identity information from the physical object is associated and recorded in the digital twin asset on the blockchain, along with a time stamp, during this event. From this point onward, all events related to shipment, warehousing, retailing, or even accessing the digital twin information, will be recorded to tell the physical item's whole story. This is the basic concept around which the GoodChain works.
How is the GoodChain secure?
Any recorded interaction with a product on the GoodChain cannot be changed: it is immutable. Interactions are grouped and recorded together in blocks and every block is chained, or connected, to a previously created block by a signature. These interactions are stored in more than one place, called a node, with each node holding a perfect copy of the same blocks and the interactions within them that every other node has. When a new block is needed and made, the signature of the new block is generated by referring to what is in the new block and to the signature of the last block in the record. For a new block to be accepted into the official record, nodes in the system must show a consensus. This process, and even the way that nodes are certified, makes it very difficult for an attacker to modify the records in the system. As you get more nodes participating in this system, the security of it increases. Retrieving bonified records for any product can be done from any node on the network but the way these digital records are paired to physical items, or products, is using physical labels or tags. Authenticity of these labels or tags has to be ensured in the physical world. Secure identifiers, provided by third parties, called oracles, are labels or tags that have a high, usually beyond a doubt, level of certainty of authenticity. These secure identifiers can be engraved serial numbers, NFC chips, or a QR code. For example, GoodChain Foundation founding member ScanTrust SA is an oracle that provides a copy-proof QR code for printing on packaging. Oracles do two things: a) they ensure the secure identifiers are applied to the packaging before or during the minting of any physical item’s digital twin/digital record and b) they provide proof of observation, also known as authentication or verification, in the real world. In a physical supply chain there is no way around having these oracles. Often multiple oracles are involved for distinct purposes such as specialisation for proof of certification, another for transport, etc.
Why is BigchainDB necessary for the GoodChain?
On public blockchains like Ethereum, that work on proof-of-work models, minting assets can be extremely expensive and relatively time consuming due to the process of mining new blocks. To lower associated costs and increase the speed of using blockchain, instead of recording each individual product or piece of information on a big, proof-of-work blockchain, a batch of assets is created and cached in a separate , off-chain, staging. A hash is then created to bundle up and store these batches as one transaction on the main chain. This efficiency scheme is referred to as anchoring. This is a common use-case for ERP vendors, such as SAP, to connect client's in-house data to the blockchain. For the GoodChain, we will probably need to track the use of items in large quantities such that anchoring is probably still not cheap and fast enough. This is the purpose for which BigchainDB was created: it is designed to provide a scalable architecture that behaves like a database but has all the features of a blockchain like decentralisation, consensus, and immutability. With BigchainDB, the nodes are run by a limited number of node-operators that are permissioned and the creation of new blocks is regulated by a federated voting process.
How will the GoodChain token be used? What will make it valuable?
GoodChain Tokens (GCT) are to be used by several actors in the GoodChain system: brand owners can use them to register products and provide product transparency and they are also used to provide funding to causes and incentivise service suppliers like inspection services. The GoodChain token value is established as it is the unit of choice for being able to participate in the GoodChain system and it is used to both serve a utility, including security, and as the medium for buying into to the system and cashing out of the system.
Where is GoodChain based?
GoodChain is a Singapore registered non-profit company. Founding members of the GoodChain, including its leadership, are based in Amsterdam, Lausanne, Berlin, and Shanghai.
Does GoodChain have a working product? If not, when can we expect it? Do you have a prototype?
Over forty million products are already protected by ScanTrust Secure Codes and BigChainDB has reference-implementations with dozens of companies. The technologies of these two founding members being in production means that the GoodChain simply needs to be implemented into a project. We plan to be ready for our first project in the first half of 2019.
What is the relationship between ScanTrust and GoodChain?
ScanTrust has two functions. First as the partner building the protocol, clients, and reference implementations for GoodChain. This is being worked on even now by the extended ScanTrust team in the function of “builder”. ScanTrust is also one of the oracles on the GoodChain for minting unique identifiers and providing proof-of-observation events.
Why are you utilising Ethereum for GCT and a separate blockchain for loyalty points, or ImpactPoints?
Ethereum is a great platform to launch tokens as virtually every exchange and wallet will be able to transact the tokens. However the cost and scalability of the Ethereum blockchain are a huge challenge for all supply-chain / IOT blockchain projects. Until plasma and sharding are generally available, the solution is to have interoperability between GoodChain’s BigchainDB and Ethereum. This will be done using oracle services - first the oracles will be centralised with the foundation and then they will be decentralised in later releases. We will also explore other integration approaches as we go along. You should also refer to the FAQ question "Why is BigchainDB necessary for the GoodChain?"
Do you have companies that have committed to use the platform from launch?
GoodChain founding members currently have clients that have shown strong interest in running campaigns on the GoodChain. This interest in the solution that the GoodChain Foundation offers was a major reason for the formation of the GoodChain Foundation!
How are you going to attract companies (or users) to GoodChain?
The GoodChain founding partners already have extensive contacts in various industries from FMCG to industrial goods and automotive companies. By leveraging existing contracts and connections, a large pool of consumers can be quickly onboarded through loyalty program campaigns. GoodChain offers a solution that can be implemented and rolled out quickly, securely, and cost-effectively. We also have an incentives scheme for ecosystem partners that can help onboard brand partners. With the combined experience of ScanTrust and BigchainDB, we expect a network-effect to help us draw in a larger and larger customer base.
How will GoodChain handle privacy, one of the biggest blockchain problems?
No personal identifiable information (PII) will be stored directly on the blockchain and brands are screened to be fully GDPR compliant before the anchor tenants can be adopted on the blockchain. All implementations of GoodChain will be GDPR compliant.
Are there are any other use cases that you envision for the future of the token?
A strong future use-case for the GCT tokens would be reputation-staking for the various service-providers and oracles. This would further enhance the trust of the actors on the GoodChain blockchain and also contribute to security.
What are the main advantages of the blockchain solution that you’ve identified?
Establishing trust and a built-in economic model for token and point-distribution are two major benefits that the GoodChain Foundation is taking advantage of.
How long has the team worked together?
The ScanTrust team has been together, unchanged since 2015. The BigchainDB has been an organisation since 2013. ScanTrust developed their first proof-of-concept with BigChainDB in 2017.
Can you share the future vision of GoodChain for the next 3 years?
This quote from the New York Times. February 27, 2021 sums it up nicely: “By becoming the de-facto industry protocol for connecting brands to social causes through consumer engagement, GoodChain has Good-enabled billions of products in dozens of countries and converted over ten billion USD of social and CSR spend into impact spend. This is a group that is making a real difference in changing the world for the better.” That is indeed where we planned for the GoodChain to be when we started this thing in 2018.
Can GoodChain become fully decentralised?
Yes. However anything touching real goods in a physical supply chain will always need trusted actors checking the physical presence of goods. Once Testing Inspection and Certification (TIC) companies are on-boarded, these will provide this function, as well as other governance / reputation needed to fully decentralise.
Do you plan to expand to markets outside of Asia?
All existing clients for both ScanTrust and BigchainDB operate in AND outside of Asia. With the fast growth of global e-commerce fulfilled by Amazon, TMall express etc., the need for firms to have global relevance is only growing. Of course, there are strong regional differences between different parts of the world. In some areas, counterfeiting and authenticity solutions play a much stronger role and demand more attention than loyalty programs. In other markets there is a strong premium placed on sustainability. Any solution deployed by a brand will always need to be localised. This localisation is the role of service-providers who implement GoodChain Client projects for brand owners and causes.
What are the next steps regarding the growth of your team?
Our founding team is being augmented with resources to develop the GoodChain protocol, clients, and pilot-applications over a planned period of five years. On the commercial side, community-building resources have been and are being added to the team, driven by the foundation’s leadership.
There are a lot of companies applying blockchain technology, what makes GoodChain any different?
Through our strong founding partner's technology, existing industry partnerships, existing customer base, and our focus on social impact, we believe GoodChain has a strong offering that is remarkable in the loyalty and product transparency fields. Keep in mind a very important thing too: if anyone is using blockchain or even a non-blockchain solution that would benefit the GoodChain mission, then we are keen to work with them, not against them. GoodChain is designed to be open source.
Do you plan to partner with other blockchain projects and in what capacity?
Yes, absolutely we are excited for that possibility and are certain that this will happen often in several capacities. It is unclear which blockchains will reach critical adoption and which will be around in the future. As different verticals might develop different blockchains, GoodChain is planned to be open to interoperability as needed.
How often do you plan to communicate with your supporters?
We are working on implementing community support managers for technical and commercial partnership support. We will start with slack channels and move into continuous support for that as well as other channels. There is also likelihood that we will be using zendesk or a similar solution in addition to traditional methods like email and social media, namely Telegram, for alerts.