Jul 18, 2018
| 4 min read

Podcast #19

How Blockchain Can Support the Global Supply Chain

 

Our conversation with Sloan Brakefied CEO and Jon Fox, Chairman of Fr8 Network covered the current state of the global supply chain, and the inherent inefficiencies of paper based processes. Brakefied and Fox discuss the unique technology challenges faced with the supply chain and how blockchain technology represents a new approach to solving long time challenges for market participants. The conversation touched on key use cases where blockchain technology could be transformative, the challenges of evangelizing new technologies and a look into the future.  

Book recommendation:

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller but the World Economy Bigger 
by Marc Levinson

Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man 
by James Joyce

Ethereum and Solidity

 

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View Transcript

Welcome everybody to another Momenta Edge Podcast. I’m Ed Maguire Insights Partner at Momenta, and today we have a couple of special guests from Fr8 Network, Sloane Brakeville who is the CEO, and Jon Fox the Chairman. In this conversation we’re going to talk about some of the challenges in the global supply chain, some of the unique solutions and vision that they have to apply blockchain, and talk a bit about some of the future risks that we see ahead when we combine connected assets, AI, and blockchain.  

 

Sloane and Jon, thanks for joining us, could you each speak about your experience, and what’s shaped your views of technology, and the global supply chain? 

Jon:I missed internet 1.0. I was in the logistics industry and I moved a lot of freight, let’s say I moved over a billion dollars of goods in the last decade, just to give the scale of that. So, I struggled through all the terrible technological solutions that were not being used, they were very small little apps basically being used for little disconnected parts of the supply chain. So, I became technologically focused with blockchain, its where I really started diving in and thinking that there was something we could do here that was collaborative. 

In the past I’d built out sales and marketing software, but limited stuff, and I saw big cloud computing models being created for industry, but it still didn’t do a lot around data privacy and data-sharing which were really going to be the big blocks to getting this done. So, my interest was recent in terms of seeing something that would work, and I wanted to roll up my sleeves and dedicate a good portion of my life to it. 

Sloane:My career has been entirely technology-driven. I came from IBM’s Blockchain Labs, but even before I was working in the blockchain group at IBM I was involved in various CRM software, I implemented Salesforce at a major global bank, it was a pretty diverse array of technologies that I got to play with. For me, the shape of supply chain is going to be driven by the variety of applications that you can have integrated to help solve the challenges. So, I think that diversity of experience can be beneficial, it already is proving to be beneficial. 

Jon:So, he grew up in tech, I only used tech to make my life easier. I tried depositing checks into Chase using a mobile app a handful of times, and the first time it broke I just had no interest in trying, so where I came from kind of just made my life easier today, and do I want to pay attention to it, was sort of the old man approach. 

 

That’s great. Let’s talk about the global supply chain. There’s a number of challenges with the global supply chain, but I would love to get a sense from you all how you see the state of the eco-system. We’ve got all sorts of modes of transport trying to manage freight from one place to another, and across borders. It looks like it’s a pretty big industry, but historically particularly some of the industries have distinct differences as well. 

Jon:That’s a great question, it’s a funny question. It’s sort of like asking, ‘How do you solve human confusion?’ A lot of humans are confused but they still get to work on time and have meaningful family relationships. So, we’re dealing with a total juggernaut industry that moves everything in the world. So, you have to find broad things that affect everything, specifically communication between companies, communication is so difficult. An IBM study showed that one third of a shipments cost is in paperwork, so extrapolate that to the bigger thought that large corporations spend about 10 percent of their gross income on logistics. So, we’re dealing with three percent bottom line for global commerce potentially is wrapped up in paperwork, around communicating from so many parties working in one workflow. 

So, we thought if we could just tackle that, if we can just get companies exchanging data in a more seamless way with less redundancy, that’s something everyone can use, will make the world a little less confused. But I feel like a lot of blockchain companies start by saying the whole world is confused, nobody can get to work, and no-one knows how to call their mother, and it’s just not true. So, this technology certainly could help someone in that scenario, but I think it’s fairer to say that these giant industries whilst very wasteful and very difficult, do work today, and how can we help meet them where they are, and start helping them improve little by little, with financial incentives for them to join our board? 

 

The different stakeholders in the supply chain, what are some of the key challenges that face say trucking providers, third-party logistics providers? I’d like to go down the list and address some of the challenges. 

Sloane:They all struggle with interoperability. I think they all can recognize some of the merits and benefits of working together, especially as global supply chains become more and more in demand of certain of scalability solutions. But as a single entity the Trucking Association for example, they share loads frequently. Whether you’re an independent owner-operator which makes up about 90 percent of the trucking market here in the US, or you’re a giant conglomerate moving freights across the ocean, they all stand to benefit from a shared way of exchanging information about what they’re up to. 

Jon:It’s all data, just to put like a plainer face on it. So, a truck driver in the US is making 40-grand a year, and one-third of capacity is always in trucks in America, sort of a shocking number, right? But it’s all small businesses, 90 percent of these truckers either own their own truck, or have a company with five trucks. So, when they’ve got to pick up a load somewhere and there’s a four-hour wait-time and they don’t know about it, having that data would have helped them not give away a third of a workday for free, they would have put that into the price. 

So, that’s one sort of area that people are going to build marketplaces as applications on top of a protocol to start fixing those things. We’ve done some of the early work and we’ve built some white-label things that can get people started in that direction. So, a whole other side is proofs of delivery are ubiquitous throughout the industry, and a lot of them are done on paper and then faxed around, no-one can find them and you’re waiting to get them, there’s a game of telephone that goes on around them. There’s a company we’re working with called OpenPort that’s built an application on the protocol and they have something called an electronic proof of delivery, really simple; you do it with your phone as opposed to with a handwritten signature.  

If they can get all start using that, all sorts of efficiencies get created, they are getting people lower credit rates, they’re streamlining track n’ trace, so then the innovation around how are they doing this I think is really what happens on the application level, where we’re seeing it’s really interesting. They are giving phones away to drivers and developing nations, and third-world countries, and then paying a tiny micron-center every time they use that device over a paper bill of lading, and letting them pay off that phone, and eventually own it by doing that. So, there’ll be all sorts of novel innovations, but it’s how do you streamline data and communication, fixes pretty much most of the problems that happen on a large scale. 

 

It’s really one of the inherent problems I think in almost any business, just getting the right data to the right people at the right time, but certainly the global supply chain has a lot of challenges in terms of a lack of data standards, and I know there certainly are some industry best practices. But how do you get around the challenges of the lack of standards? 

Sloane:Well there certainly isn’t a lack of standards, there’s probably at least a half-dozen different organizations trying to provide for standards, it’s a matter of how they achieve adoption, and are they sufficient to hit the goals. I think it’s important for us as a protocol provider to adhere to some of the great innovations that have already happened in these organizations, and find where they’ve had misgivings. For example, the GS1 initiative, that is trying to bring around a standard way of sharing information about track n’ trace between be it a warehouse, and a transportation service provider, and the consignee; incorporating that, the best practices of that into our protocol is sort of the first step. 

Where we think we’re going to provide a lot of differentiation as Jon mentioned before, is in incentivization for adoption, and that’s something that hasn’t been able to happen until blockchain came around, and the scarcity tokens have become something of value. 

Jon:I think you do have a point though. There are great standards now, the first big move in logistics was containerization, there used to be containers of all sorts of sizes, and one guy came along and said, ‘This is the size’, had me doing an incredible amount of lobbying to get that adopt in. Now that works well. 

The next big one was called EDI Standards, Electronic Data Interface to interchange standards, and people are still adopting that, it’s like the hot thing in logistics but they were created in the 1980s. So, something we really looked at, all the technological advances and the systems that we have now and how to integrate them. So, our way of doing that is, we have some good ideas, we have a separate body that governs our standards, called the Third Trade Consortium, and we will eventually turn over the entire Governments of the freight protocol to the Third Trade Consortium. So, step one there is getting a few enterprise level companies on-board, and starting the conversations around, what do you need to do track and trace data between Maersk and JB Hunt, and how do we provide for that in such a way that doesn’t exclude any players. 

So, you’ve got to start from scratch in a sense, but with the people moving the most freely. I think that’s a big theme of what we’re doing, is whilst a lot of blockchain companies are looking to disseminate the whole sector, we think we need to work with the biggest guys moving the most freight, and just help them disseminate their own waste through this kind of collaboration. So, the more people you get on board right up-front to join the conversation and have buy-in, I think the easier the adoption will be. 

 

Right, and from the perspective of the suppliers, the suppliers need to be sure that they can be paid for what they ship, and factoring their receivables can be expensive; how do you view this challenge now for getting paid for suppliers, which is certainly one of the huge challenges in the global supply chain? 

Jon:A great question. Let me just first say on the last point that dovetails into this, the incentivization’s have changed. To adopt EBI standards is expensive, and you’ve got to build out all these interfaces. By us building a fact protocol that has so much ability embedded in the protocol, it’s simple to adopt standards, and by adopting standards you’ll start saving money because it will streamline your operations. You can adopt a simple application and start being able to get the benefits. So, much like that on the factoring side, factoring is out of control, five percent monthly credit terms are not rare at all, they go up six percent. The reason that is, it’s a lot of little independents who are being aggregated by these credit issuers, and there’s not a lot of trust out there, and it’s a lot of flimsy paperwork. You have the same problem on the traditional goods insurance side, have you really had verified accountability of what’s insurable, where it is, what it’s worth. So, this helps that a lot. 

I’ll go back to OpenPort which is a company that I’m really impressed with, and they were one of the first companies who made a partnership with us after Salesforce. What they’re doing is, they’re taking that electronic proof of delivery and are working with the bank to provide 0.005 percent credit terms on a monthly basis, which was a total game-changer. So, this has already been done, OpenPort is incentivizing these drivers to use the phone to get the electronic proof of deliver, and then they’re hooking up those drivers up directly to Union Bank who is giving this six percent in your credit on factoring invoices, and they’ll be using freight protocol once we’re fully integrated as the single source of truth of that documentation. So, again it’s the operators, its guys like Max Ward building OpenPort that are really doing the very hard work with integrating these ideas, into real business used cases, and spinning them up. 

That’s the future of this, and the fact that we’re seeing someone do this so early, just confirms the assumption that invoice financing and credit and trade finance in general is the low-hanging fruit that’s super-eager to save money, which is really in the end what this is going to offer. 

 

How specifically does blockchain technology represent a new approach to solve these challenges of factoring in track and trace? 

Sloane:One of the things blockchain provides is this amenable database idea, for example the Union Bank example, they look for the lowest risk-type opportunities for them to extend their credit, and so the benefit of OpenPort and the users of the OpenPort applications is the security that comes with blockchain technology, as that store of information which is used to determine the creditworthiness of the invoices that come over. 

So, blockchain has provided a unique opportunity in this instance for data security. But it’s also useful for a couple of other things, like the universal single-source of truth concept, whereby more and more adoption on the freight protocol then the location of information about a shipment is going to be stored in this distributed database. As a result, people can trust that it’s not one entity that’s in charge of their information, or the integrity of their data, it is a distributed known network that maintains the integrity of that data. 

Jon:And then it’s just trust. I own a logistics company now, when we have an insurance claim, they ask us to file the claim and tell them what it was worth. If my purchase orders had assets on the blockchain, the data that could immediately qualify the permission to access, and not wonder if I’m telling the truth about it. It just de-risks fraud, it creates a single-source of truth and trust, which is what a lot of these laborious process are trying to ensure, and this just takes care of it. 

 

What are some of the initial hurdles to adoption, or at least concerns? When you’re going out and talking to customers about your approach, and about using blockchain in a supply chain, what would you say some are the misperceptions are, and how do you get past some of the hurdles, or obstacles for a new technology? 

Sloane:We found that a lot of these organizations are investing in their IT resources will be hard-pressed to find a justification to put more finances into something entirely new, unless it’s proved. So, the cost savings that come about of integrating with something like the freight protocol are clear, and so, moving the vision and the strategy of some of these organizations that are slow to adopt new technology, into one where they recognize the benefit of blockchain, and the benefit of a standardised protocol for the cost savings that it can bring, are one of the key challenges there. So, that educational process provides us an opportunity to fill a gap in the market. 

Jon:A big misperception is, that they’re going to have to have all their data out publicly or encrypted on a public blockchain. Just educating companies about what blockchains are good for, what data should be on there, what data they really should be keeping on their own servers and offering the levels of encryption on those servers that they feel safe with. Also, just letting them know that integrating into the blockchain doesn’t mean converting all the economy in cryptocurrency. People get really freaked out by companies doing ICOs and dealing with crypto, and we have to explain to them that these are basically behaviour modifiers and incentivisers within systems, but the whole system doesn’t need to convert. 

For example, people don’t need to pay their bills in crypto currency, but when it comes to having data about those invoices on the blockchain, and to pay a small fee to have those hashed down the blockchain, that’s going to do dispute resolution pretty much instantly as opposed to the regular 90 to 120-day cycle. 

 

Could you provide some examples of how a company might employ a blockchain solution that protects some of their proprietary or confidential data, but then takes advantage of the immutability and other characteristics? 

Sloane:When we look at the example we’ve had a couple of times already with that electronic proof of delivery, the blockchain itself is going to store the integrity of that data without revealing certain things like the total cost of that shipment. Rate information is something that’s closely guarded by a lot of these organizations, if they have provided a competitive rate to basically a friend of theirs, they don’t want that information held out in the public domain. So, by having the freight protocol establish permissions layer, and wrapping the core data about a shipment in the security blanket, it’s how we get adoption from the notion of individuals who are afraid to associate data with an open protocol, and into the world of benefits that can come as a result of sharing that. 

Jon:When you go to the biggest companies in the space, and start engaging in meaningful conversations as we have, about how we can help integrate all the data they receive to them more seamlessly, and all the administrative costs that can save. Look hypothetically at a company like FedEx, how can they do better capacity planning based on what’s coming off Maersk? IBMs working with Maersk, FedEx is going to want to integrate into that somehow, how can we take a little part of our protocol that does track and trace, and ask for those companies to cooperate with our protocols, so that they can all have better capacity planning, shorter offload times, less intermodal freight time, things of that nature. 

So, it’s about meeting them where they are, and listening to what the enterprise concerns are at an enterprise level and offering the lightest solution for the maximum cost-saving benefits. 

 

Can you talk about what does the Fr8 Network protocol do? Walk us through how you guys have architected it, and explain some of the concepts around the eco-systems. 

Sloane:Visually it helps in a podcast format to describe the protocol in layers, almost like a jaw-breaker. 

We can post a link to your materials on the show notes. 

Sloane:Happy to do that. But for the most part the protocol consists of three main layers, first is the transport document core, this core contains information about who is involved in the shipment, what data is going to be associated to the shipment, and who can do what to that data. So, there’s this idea of permissions stored directly in this central core ball. Now, wrapped around that, the next layer of the jaw-breaker is going to be ID and permissions layer. We have infrastructure in place that essentially validating that any request to that core ball of the jaw-breaker is authorised to do so. So, we’ll open-up that shell as necessary given you have the right credentials to do so. 

For example, if you are the Customs Authority and the shipment document that’s stored in that core is acknowledging that somebody who is authorised by the Customs Authority of the United States, to view certain pieces of data, that layer is then going to open and reveal the information necessary for that customer’s agency. But no more, and no less than is required. 

Then on top of that, how do you get data into and out of the core, is through this infrastructure layer that we’re calling our interface layer. Those familiar with application development are probably familiar with things like APIs, that’s effectively what we’ve defined is a set of APIs for things like document associations, so if you want to put a bill of lading scan in associated to that transport document core, we have an interface for that. You want to put time series data like GPS coordinates, or temperature, or humidity levels, there’s an interface for that. You want to talk about payments and how to satisfy payments, there’s an interface specifically for that as well. 

So, those three layers make up the core of the protocol itself, but in and of itself, it’s not directly an application, and so we have a fourth layer that sits sort of outside of that core which is specifically for services. You can think of services in terms of a payment processor, imagine Stripe or a bank wants to come in and offer settlement services for information stored in that transport document core, they would be interfacing through that payment API I described earlier, through a third-party service built specifically for settling and processing payments.  

That’s just one example, all kinds of services can be built in and associated through that. That’s an opportunity for third-party developers to make additional income too, specifically for the logistics services that they would be providing. 

 

What are some potential used cases or applications that you foresee could be built on this protocol? 

Sloane:We’ve already seen, and we’ll bring back another reference here to our friends over at OpenPort, a cool application of a protocol through a transportation management system, be it that they associate important data such as the electronic proof of delivery to those cell phones, to the blockchain. The additional information that can be associated through their existing transportation management system is a big use-case for our core protocol, but it’s kind of modular, so we’ve seen that documents being so expensive and cumbersome in logistics moving that into electronic document interchange through the protocol, is another big used case.  

I think Jon may have mentioned earlier the cost of a global shipment has been approximated to contain just a third of the cost in paperwork alone. So, there’s a big opportunity there. 

Jon:And it’s also an application can be built anywhere that someone’s profiting off information asymmetry arbitrage. One of the companies I built, Lewis Co Holdings, we were starting to work on marketplace because we spend a lot of money on freight, we find we want to get around the brokerage layer on some of it. We operate with these independent carriers all over the country, but we really can only reach them through third parties that charge us a lot to find them. We’re uniting against brokers who think that this technology will help brokerage a lot, but there were just building a simple interface, and freight went ahead and built some like they were application of an iPhone app that lets carriers see availability in the marketplace right to the blockchain. And an application that plugged into SalesForce and lets us take that shipping requirement from that database and put it onto the blockchain, it’s a smart contract. 

So, not to get too complex there, but it’s basically a little marketplace for a small business that wants to start putting their bet on the blockchain and interact that way. We’re endeavoring to build that, maybe that’s something that will become more robust and we can onboard other people to, but anyone that wants to build an application that disintermediates some area of waste within their company, should be able to use the protocol in that regard. So, we had the first good ideas we think, but there’s going to be ideas that we haven’t thought of, that we’re going to have to expand the protocol to accommodate it, I’m sure. 

 

For intermediaries and freight brokers, what do you think success would look like to have brokers who have conducted their business the same way for often decades, to move quickly and adopt new approaches to automation and blockchain? How do you get past some of at least the challenges that non-tech companies face? And Jon, you alluded to this yourself, your background was in traditional supply chain and logistics, and you got pushed into technology because of the challenges of your business. Are there ways to accelerate how other people in the eco-system adopt these technologies? 

Jon:Yes, for sure. Let’s not even go so far as self-driving trucks, let’s just start with where we are today. In the US, 90 percent of trucks are owned by companies with six trucks or less, a lot of that’s owner-operators with one truck. So, a broker is going to be able to access those guys, a broker sits on the phone all day and fine, people operate with them, and fine, little manufacturers operate with them, most manufacturers have a few employees that’s under 4,000 that have over 500 employees. So, take a broker, they’re going to be able to provide better track and trace to their customers, because instead of doing it the way they do it now, they’re going to be able to just click on a link that shows them the last movement on the blockchain. 

Today the way it works is, I’m a shipper, I’m trying to move a pallet of fruit from New York to California, I call up my broker and say, ‘Where’s that fruit?’ They call up the LTL company, or they log into their system and see where that pallet is supposed to be, then they call the dock manager to see if it’s there, and then they call me back and say what they know. So, getting rid of that process I think gives them so much more time in their day to do what they do, and do what they do well, which is to find businesses that needs stuff to ship, find truckers that want to ship it, put them together and take their mark-up for it. 

So, the efficiencies don’t come from knocking out whole parts of the industry. This intermediate broker was an early assumption of ours that was wrong, we see a lot in the market and its wrong. The way that we disintermediate is let’s disintermediate all the empty capacity, let’s take the 30 billion empty miles driven every year, and the fact that there’s a shortage of trucks even though there’s all this empty capacity, and let’s fix that by enabling the people who are already fixing it all to do their jobs more effectively. 

 

Do you see this extra capacity as more of a long-haul trucking challenge, or a last mile challenge? I heard Shankhri from Fr8 Network a couple of weeks ago at a Tech25 event talking about just the enormous cost that last mile involves in the end-to-end supply chain. Is there a way this technology can be applied to help reduce some of the inefficiencies there? 

Sloane:Yes, absolutely, it’s both. It doesn’t really matter what mode of transportation it is, the final mile represents a particular logistics challenge, because of the diverse array of infrastructure that’s in place for most final mile deliveries. But effectively the same challenge has remained, its where is it, what condition is it in, and when can I expect it to arrive, in addition to how much is it going to cost me? So, having that information available through those protocol layers is still just as valuable for final mile, as it is for long-haul, for rail, for air, for marines, so absolutely, yes. 

 

How do you see the broader market evolving over the next decade? If your optimistic expectations are fulfilled, how do you see the landscape changing over time? 

Jon:I think this whole technology, and the reason people think it’s going to be so pervasive is it decentralizes control. So, I think you’re going to see consortiums creating a lot of the important ideas about how we all cooperate. Just logistics which is not as large as supply chains, like $13 trillion. So, I think you’ll see good ideas winning more because the blockchain technology allows the kind of communication that lets a good idea win. 

Sloane:I’ve seen a couple of interesting ideas come out of shipment solution providers at a product level, whereby you as a consumer of logistic services currently don’t have a lot of options in making decisions about how you ship your goods. It’s changing, and you can see that in areas like Amazon, at the consumer level you go in and you pick the type of delivery service that you want, do you want same day, do you want next day, do you want five days, or do you not care? And so, having that Chinese menu type option is hard to achieve in the global supply chain, but we can probably expect to see as coordination improves over time, these new types of products being offered for the consumer of logistic services. 

Jon:Also think of protocols like an aggregator, no matter what software that you happen to want to implement, companies today will spend millions of dollars implementing a proprietary software solution into their company, and that’s fine, but it precludes them from working in a meaningful way with anyone who isn’t on that software, that could do like a one-to-one plug-in with the guy who is handing them something, or that they’re handing off to, but how do they participate in a large ocean of data bases that anyone can pull from? 

So, the technology like this says we’re platform agnostic, or even blockchain agnostic, we’re going to save people using a lot more money on the things that it costs to write data, and anybody can use it, it will be on any system you want. So, I don’t see something else like that out there, which is great. You love Hyperledger? Wonderful, that’s great, stay exactly with that, just interoperate with us on a very basic level, and that goes from a small system to large systems. That’s why the Salesforce plugin was a big deal to us, it’s a pretty light thing that we did there as we became an integration partner, which just means that if your company is using Salesforce, we can create a button in there that says, ‘Ship with freight protocol’, it ties in with all our stuff. But the customer base using that just from an inter-operability standpoint, Salesforce isn’t promoting us, or telling all their customers to use us, but creating that possibility, when we show value on our side it’s so easy for them to access them, it’s literally about a click away, and I’ve got a super-cheap add-on to what they’re already given. 

 

That’s the idea of making it completely transparent which, is really what we are going to need to see for applications and protocols, built on blockchain to have that wider adoption. 

Jon:This is it, IBM was saying on Hyperledger, and Logistic Solutions, ‘We’re going to build it for anyone in the world that wants it, we’re going to make it really cheap to onboard to. Then we’re going to give it away completely to the people that use it, and their own tokens that power it’. We’re eventually going to have our consortium take over full governorship of the protocol, and we don’t own it. That’s up to the people that are on the consortium to make those decisions, certainly we’ll spend the first few years unwrapping people to that sort of setting up the right processes, but that just isn’t being beyond in the pre-watching world where there’s this new belief of radical thinkers, who are becoming pretty mainstream, who say, ‘Look, the people who actually work in industry can do a better job creating value in that industry than centralised parties can’. 

So, even if the people working in that industry, or a giant broker at Charleston is an intermediary, great. They are adding value to the overall network without them having to have an intermediary between death and the marketplace.  

 

That’s powerful implications. 

Jon:It’s a humble approach is how we think of it, we’re just laying the pipes for people to work together, how they do it is going to be very profit-focused as it should be. 

 

It really harkens back to the different philosophy and mindset of an open-source approach too, where you’re free and open and the network, the community, and the eco-system end up being critical to drive value rather than trying to extract software licenses from enterprise customers. 

Jon:Right. And so when we’re out building, this getting credibility, just to get it off – bootstrap it, and we’re talking to the Fortune 500 shippers of the world, what’s really happening on the other side of it is, all the little independents throughout India for example, are getting better access to shipments and capacity, and improving their businesses from bill to getting by in life, to being able to do a lot more. 

 

Well that was going to be my next question about how this could impact some emerging markets, which have struggled with visibility and cross-border payments, and a number of challenges? 

Jon:Well, what you’re building here is a system of barter, and I fell in love with the whole idea of doing a marketplace and a protocol, using cryptocurrency when I read the Bank Roll whitepaper. It started with this great quote by Jevons about how the double-coincidence of barter is so rare to have. A farmer works really well in a little village in the Philippines and have a lot of little payments; I’ve got chickens, you’ve got butter, let’s figure out what they’re worth. It also works well on a very large global sphere. Where it doesn’t work well is, let’s take a region of truckers and get everyone to agree to run freight in a certain way in a region, because supply and demand won’t add up. So, this is an attempt to have fair barter on a very large scale, and decentralisation is really the tool that’s going to make that possible. 

Sloane:What I’ve seen as well is, in these emerging markets the access to technology can be challenging. But I would argue in a lot of these emerging markets the cellular technology is certainly there. So, in one application of say trucking logistics overland, you can see adoption of this technology fueling a new way of moving these goods from point A to point B, because they already have the existing cell infrastructure, they’re just missing the incentives to adopt things like smartphones to get their job done. That’s where partners like OpenPort have proven to be valuable. We see their incentive model of providing free tools, free technology, and having the use of that technology be a means of those operators paying back, that you could think of it as a technology loan. 

Jon:That’s kind of the nice future state, but I guess what we’re not saying here today is, a bunch of interesting announcements that people will see coming out over the next quarter or two. We have about ten really interesting partnerships happening now, ourselves will be listing publicly, some will be able to list publicly a little further down the line. But we’re like a sensor company who is running freight for big brands that we know very well, tracking food temperature. They’re using our blockchain, and they’re going to be tracking some of the biggest food retailer’s food on our blockchain. 

So, you’ve got to start with the big boys, but then as Sloane said, the access to technology for the smaller guys is just already there because of all of that. So, if people keep an eye on our project, I think they’ll start seeing the brands that we’re talking about and how that kind of integrates. We’re trying really hard to be an example and thought leaders in the space of adoption, and bootstrapping something real using enterprise companies as partners. I think there’s going to be other much stronger thought leaders on the tech side, and around privacy, and identity, we’re working on too, but there’s a lot of big boys there. 

We’re getting something working on an enterprise scale, that people can use – when I say people, the enterprise 400 to 500 companies can interoperate with and get value from, I think we’re going to be one of the leaders in that space, it’s really a big hope of ours that we keep focusing on. 

 

Well, we’ll be watching closely, and we certainly wish you nothing but success. 

I have one question that I always like to ask of our podcast guest, which is, whether you have a book or a resource recommendation for our listeners, it doesn’t have to be a tech book, but I always love to toss that out. 

Sloane:One of the first books that I read when I got started on this project was called, The Box. It’s on Bill Gates favorite book list I believe, and what it does is, it gives you a seminal history of how containerized shipping that started in the late 50s and became the de facto way of moving things globally, came about. It tells a really good story, but it also harkens to the challenges of achieving standards of adoption on a global scale. So, I’m expecting to see a lot of parallels between what happened getting containerization to become ubiquitous, with what we’re going to face having a global shipping protocol become ubiquitous. 

 

That’s a great recommendation, I’m going to have to get that. 

Jon:I’m a big fan of ‘Portrait of an Artist, as a Young Man, people like James Joyce. When I got in this space I read two books, just very general, and one was ‘Blockchain Revolution’, and the other one was called, ‘Ethereum and Solidity’, because in terms of true core development there’s been two really interesting thoughts on this space, and that’s bitcoin in Ethereum first being the idea of having means to do value transfers, person-to-person, that were trusted and verified. The second was turning the whole world into a computer, so the simple book, ‘Ethereum and Solidity’, is really what got my mind on fire about this space, when I first read it a couple of years ago. 

 

It’s exciting to be around at the cusp of one of these major technology revolutions, I think. I didn’t completely miss the Internet revolution, but I was certainly a little later than I would like to be, and this has all the hallmarks of something that’s fundamentally transformative. So, we’re very excited about it as well. 

Jon:Well, we believe so and echo what you said, and have stayed up a lot of late nights trying to keep up with all the stuff we see going on in the market, because I’ve never seen so much intelligence gathered before, it’s really humbling. 

 

It is, it’s amazing. Well, with that we’d like to wrap up our podcast. We’ve been speaking with Sloane Brakeville, CEO of Fr8 Network, and Jon Fox, Chairman of Fr8 Network, and this has been a fascinating conversation and really illuminating. I want to thank you both for taking the time. 

Jon:Thanks Ed, we’re big fans of the show, thank you for including us. 

Sloane:Yes, we appreciate it.