Blockchain has applications far beyond bitcoin says UDT CEO John Baird, who wants to use the technology to track each step of the supply chain, opening the process to manufacturers, ­distributors, retailers and consumers.


How can blockchain be applied to supply chain management?

The way we use blockchain is to provide full end-to-end traceability.

For example, I can seal a tin in Sydney and deliver it to Melbourne – tracing its temperature, humidity and location the whole way.

All the recorded data is held on a blockchain that cannot be tampered with so customers can have full confidence in the integrity of the data.

Essentially blockchain is a untouchable record, and it will significantly disrupt the way that many industries operate.

Internet of Things (IoT) was a huge trend last year, how does blockchain add to the product offering?

The big thing IoT does is provide data the likes that we haven’t seen before.

IoT sensors can record data from a variety of devices, where we haven’t previously had the time or money to do by human means.

The depth of data allows for greater analysis and traceability, but only if you can make sure that it is secure — which is where blockchain comes in.

Take a tub of ice cream for example. Imagine we put sensors in it to see where it is, the temperature and if it has been opened.

Now with a blockchain we can add a smart contract that instantaneously activates penalty or insurance clauses if it is damaged in transit or instructs workers along the way to dispose of a spoilt product.

Now, instead of a melted tub of icecream being delivered to a customer, the company can ship a replacement and be on the front foot.

How pervasive will this technology be in the daily lives of consumers?

Tracking via blockchain will start with high value products — particularly exports such as infant milk powder or wagyu beef.

But the technology will ultimately become so ingrained it will be as databases are to life now.

We will see the technology implemented into everything from logistics to accounting. Ultimately it gives consumers control of their data and full transparency.

I think soon enough, authorities will start to wake up to this. With blockchain you have data that you can never alter. Soon enough the technology will be mandated by the government.

It will become the de facto standard and as easily implemented as a program like Oracle is now to bring a whole new era of accountability.

It might not happen overnight but we will see a democratising of information and a means to hold organisations to account.


John Baird is the CEO of UDT, which plans to use sensors to track products using blockchain technology. He holds a Masters of Computer Forensics, Digital Forensics, BSc in computing at Macquarie University. 

John has had significant experience in the technology and banking sectors, as CEO at Revio Cyber Security, Former Vice President of Credit Suisse, Former CTO of Deutsche Bank, CSIRO Scientist, Panel Chairmen of NSW.