Blockchain startup Citizens Reserve has partnered with Smartrac, a JP Morgan-owned internet of things platform, to help firms track and trace physical goods in the supply chain using radio-frequency identification.

Citizens Reserve recently launched its blockchain-based ‘supply chain-as-a-service’ platform called SUKU, which is designed for cross-border business partners to communicate, agree on deals and track the location and status of products.

Smartrac, meanwhile, is a developer of radio-frequency identification (RFID) and IoT solutions, and is the world’s largest supplier of RFID inlays for ePassports. It is a JP Morgan major portfolio company, and Alibaba recently took a minority stake in the firm to deploy enhanced brand protection solutions.

In partnering with Smartrac, Citizens Reserve will integrate the IoT firm’s transponder solutions into the SUKU blockchain platform. It will allow users of SUKU to assign physical items a digital identity and track them on the blockchain using smart tags placed on the products.

Citizens Reserve is planning to conduct its first live transaction on SUKU by early Q2, with the first use case being livestock.

“We will be starting with livestock – from farmers to distributors – and rapidly moving onto additional industries based on opportunities already in progress. We are focusing on enterprises and that includes the whole spectrum, from electronics, to oil, to livestock, and more,” says Eric Piscini, the firm’s CEO.

SUKU is unpinned by blockchain technology, which makes it possible for trading partners to interact and access data in real-time, while ensuring privacy, auditability of activities and the automation of contractual agreements.

As previously reported by GTR, blockchain is an ideal technology for tracking and tracing the physical supply chain, with some fascinating developments underway, including projects to trace diamonds, wine, coffee beans, cotton, avocados and fish.

IBM, for one, is developing a range of such projects. Its Food Trust blockchain programme, for example, has seen it work with leading retailers, suppliers and growers to track individual food products. Last week, the tech giant further announced it was working with Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem and RCS Global to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals.

By integrating blockchain with IoT – namely devices and sensors connected to one another that automatically collect and exchange data – Citizens Reserve is among a growing number of firms taking the next step in automating such tracking of products, rather than relying on people to manually insert the data.

Smartrac’s technology will automatically feed the blockchain with the precise location and status of goods. It will not only help parties to gain visibility and be able to act proactively when an issue arises, but the idea is also to improve firms’ access to capital, as technology partners will be able to develop financing apps on top of SUKU to help finance trades through the use of tokens.

This could be an appealing proposition to trade financiers as they too would have a real-time overview of the physical flows that they are financing. They could use this information to better assess working capital funding risks, rather than solely relying on balance sheet strength.

“Blockchain technology helps lay the foundation to build a more transparent supply chain solution, and now, with the integration of other technologies such as IoT, RFID, and near-field communication through Smartrac, we are able to deliver on our mission of being the most effective supply chain solution for businesses moving product from supplier to retailer,” Piscini says.