Today’s supply chains are black boxes

We don’t know where our goods are, who processed them, when or why something went wrong, or what is real or fraudulent.

Co-founder Dominik Schiener talks about supply chains at the 2018 Bosch CONNECTED WORLD

Global supply chains are incredibly complex, involving multiple actors from around the globe. Just consider the process from sand to the smart screen made of this sand, that retails on a corner shop in Bogota as an integrated part of a smart phone packed with numerous components sourced, produced and integrated though a global process. However, it is not the complexity of the supply chain itself but often the lack of management, transparency and monitoring that causes the most significant mishaps in global trade.

Global trade is the orchestration of three different and interdependent flows:

  1. The movement of physical goods
  2. The supporting communication and documentation requirements
  3. The financial flows between the many different actors along the supply chains.

Data is the fuel for realizing the potential of full visibility and effective coordination of supply chains. It will change global trade and remove many of today’s trade barriers. It must start with trustworthy data about tracking and trace of shipments, inventory levels, condition and status of goods (temperature, humidity, quality, assurances), payment processes, and regulatory requirements (certificate of origin, phyto-sanitary certificates etc).

Distributed Ledger Technology provides new trust in supply chains

With the IOTA distributed ledger, collective transparency, authorized and authenticated participation, and immutability records will build trust between all actors in the trading process

Aerial view of an industrial work yard

How IOTA's Tangle will impact the future of the Supply Chain

The authenticity and integrity of supply chain data is crucial for the orchestration of the whole supply chain.

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is designed for establishing such new shared trust in data and to provide a Single Version of Truth. DLT will provide cryptographic security, define access privileges for different user groups, and establish the audit trail needed for all actors to trust information and to collaborate with trusted actors.

Once data integrity is established, it will change how actors exchange information. Today’s supply chains are driven by actors pushing information to the next actor and requesting updates. Emails, phone calls, and uncertainty are the daily details of moving goods. Information being delivered peer-to-peer and retyped into new systems with loss of data integrity and authenticity.


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The vision of tomorrow is a supply chain supported by a distributed ledger where the original documents and events are reported in real time and made available to authorized actors - providing process transparency and access to original data.

The technology behind IOTA is the only technology that can scale and support the millions of transactions that global trade depends on. It is feeless and can support partitioning – meaning that local transactions can be secured in periods without direct access to internet such as remote areas and during ocean transport.

Building together - Learning together

Businesses and authorities will have to build this future ecosystem together. Become involved.

We aim to support a process of collective learning among all actors. All the implications and real-life effects DLT technology presents are still not fully understood. There are important questions around governance of DLT networks and juridical compliance, and so new business models and collaboration across industry silos is necessary.

The intrinsic value of applying DLT is to create “a shared good” for all parties. Thus, at IOTA we work in partnerships with companies and public institutions to test and review the application of the technology. A key priority is to continue to build and engage in alliances with actors from all sectors in parallel with developing the technology for production use at scale.

We have three strategic focus areas for pilots:


Track and Trace What is the current location and condition of product? Tracking can include geo-location, transfer of ownership/custody, and/or conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.). Publish different supply chain events such as container stuffed, container loaded, warehouse-in, warehouse-out, etc.

Tracking of orders, reducing errors, monitor real-time production status. Transport tracking of goods being shipped overseas/cross borders. Monitor atmosphere-controlled cargo, etc. Use reliable visibility over supply chain to better manage sudden demand changes and margin erosion. Inventory management. Resolve responsibilities for delays, mishandling of product.


TRADE FACILITATION / DOCUMENTATION FLOW How can we enable e-governance and e-papers in a globalized trade system? Manage paper trails and customs procedures for moving goods across borders, including: purchase order, invoice, load list, phyto-certificate, certificate of origin, transport booking, bill of lading, manifest, declarations, etc. Publish different supply chain events such as: purchase of goods done, container stuffed, tax paid, goods inspected, certificate approved, etc.

A harmonized B2B and B2G (business-to-government) electronic permitting tool would massively accelerate the release and clearance of such goods through customs, and ultimately consolidate technologies such as e-signatures, e-permits and e-payments into a single process.


Trade Transparency What is the Origin, Quality & Standards of the product? Authenticate products and provide assurance certification towards all actors along the supply chain. Attach product-relevant data (example: environmental and social standards) to the raw products at the farm/production site. Record value adding activities and keep full transparency towards source.

Enable retailers and producers to open product data, track the processes and production of goods, and empower customers with insights into the supply chain. Provide accessible, trustworthy information about origin, journey and impact to build trust and brand. Reducing or eliminating fraud and errors in the supply chain – preventing illicit trade of goods, etc.

Contact us

Reach out to IOTA about Global Trade and Supply Chains