Former Deloitte boss turned Citizens Reserve head, Eric Piscini, confirmed a partnership with Smartrac, a JP Morgan portfolio company dealing in the product digitization space. Citizens Reserve will use its blockchain-powered SUKU supply chain platform to integrate with Smartrac.
Smartrac is one of the world’s top players in the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology space. Smartrac’s involvement spans many industries, such as food. According to a statement, “Smartrac is a JP Morgan major portfolio company and Alibaba recently took a minority stake to deploy enhanced brand protection solutions.”
The partnership with Citizens Reserve looks to help bring Smartrac’s technology into the blockchain world, connecting the digital and physical world. Adding blockchain to the supply chain also provides a new aspect of security and tracking. Blockchain has the potential to significantly cut down on tampering due to its immutable ledger.
Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Dinesh Dhamija explained to me via email correspondence,
The combination of Smartrac’s digital enablement capabilities along with Citizen’s Reserves’ SUKU platform will provide a unique identity for each physical product with a transparent and accessible supply chain solution.”
Citizens Reserve’s SUKU platform is a supply chain platform built on the blockchain. According to Dhamija, Citizens Reserve utilizes both ethereum’s blockchain, as well as Quorum’s blockchain, which is JP Morgan’s etheruem-based blockchain. Citizens Reserve CEO Eric Piscini told me in an interview that they are building a multi-component platform and ecosystem, including a marketplace and a “track and trace” functionality.
RFID tags are critical when you think about supply chain and what we do, we do supply chain on blockchain, and when you need to track an item using the supply chain, whether it’s components or it’s a final product, you need RFID tags, and the partnership is really for us to be able to provide a complete solution to our clients.”
Digitizing the physical world is a major hurdle that plagues the supply chain industry. Additionally, once the physical world is made digital, the two worlds still must have congruence. Physical products, documents and components must line up with their digital counterparts on the system which represents them. RFID tags are one of the most well-known ways of connecting the physical to the digital.
As a company, Smartrac helps solve problems for customers through RFID solutions including traceability, prevention of data tampering and counterfeit goods. We embedded transponders into physical goods in the raw materials stage, which allows for high traceability during the manufacturing and shipping processes. Complimenting RFID technology, blockchain is able to autonomously track physical goods through the whole supply chain process.”
The partnership is mutually beneficial for Smartrac and Citizens Reserve. Citizens Reserve will have access to Smartrac’s technology, contacts and industries. In turn, Smartrac will have access to the same, utilizing Citizens Reserve’s blockchain technology, industry presence and applications.
A Detailed Process
The supply chain involves many steps and parties, each with specific duties. Customers must be able to trust that the product purchased is genuine and that all parties carried out their duties properly along the way.
The trust that we provide, because now we can actually track the container, track the pallet, track the equipment itself and the parts of the equipment because they’re all connected. I think it brings trust into the marketplace.”
RFIDs are just one example of Smartrac’s technology. The company has a variety of other methods, including QR codes, chips and GPS locators.
Seeing as how Smartrac covers so many industries, Citizens Reserve will start working with them only in the meat industry initially, tracking meat products from their origin, all the way to the customer.
That being said, Citizens Reserve will also work with Smartrac in looking at all their current use cases and industries to decide which industry to focus on after the meat industry is covered. “We have a short-term strategy, which is the meat industry, and a long-term strategy which is pretty much every large industry that they cover today,” Piscini noted.
The company hopes to conclude its meat industry testing by the end of March, with a full meat industry launch shortly after. Citizens Reserve has the general mindset of targeting a small section of one industry and then eventually expanding to that entire industry. In this case, the two businesses will start with the meat industry and eventually expand to the entire food industry, according to Piscini.
Piscini detailed his dream result for the involved technologies, describing a scenario he might ultimately enjoy as an end consumer.
My dream is I go to a restaurant, I order a fillet mignon, and I have a mini QR code on the top of the fillet mignon, on the steak, and I can scan that QR code before eating my fillet mignon, and I can track that meat all the way to the farm […] I can make sure that the cow is without antibiotics, and that the chain from the time the cow is slaughtered, to the time I eat my fillet mignon, that the meat has been kept in good condition, and all of that information is actually available on my phone when I scan the QR code.”
Since The Move
Last May, the public saw Piscini leave Deloitte’s blockchain department to join Citizens Reserve, as covered by Forbes.
Piscini grew Deloitte’s blockchain team from the ground up during his time there. Since the move last year, however, Piscini said he faced a few challenges, going from an established powerhouse like Deloitte to a startup environment.
He mentioned the importance of brand awareness. With Deloitte, Piscini had the help of an established brand. Growing the Citizens Reserve name has required a more tactful and “witty” approach to develop awareness.
Speed of change and ability to adjust to change are further challenges Pisicni said he has seen in the fast-paced startup environment. “At Deloitte I had bad weeks and good weeks, and [at Citizens Reserve] I have bad hours and good hours. The Rythm is much much different.” He said these aspects are challenging, but also very exciting and they are something he enjoys being part of.
Piscini also mentioned his time at Deloitte helped prepare him for his current endeavors. His work at Deloitte held similar resemblances to a startup, considering the area of blockchain. “What I’ve learned about growing a practice, growing a team, growing a solution within Deloitte, I’m reapplying some of that here,” he said. He also included working with big players in a business-to-business manner is another application from Deloitte he carries with him and applies to Citizens Reserve.