US blockchain company Skuchain has partnered with Japanese tech giant NTT Data to build a blockchain platform for supply chain and logistics management.

The solution, which combines blockchain technology with internet of things (IoT) innovations such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), has already been trialled in Japan’s manufacturing sector, where it has been successfully used to improve supply chain efficiency.

The solution is being jointly marketed by Skuchain and NTT Data in Japan and further afield.

Skuchain and NTT Data are also working with companies in Japan to use the supply chain platform to offer inventory financing offered through the blockchain platform – a key part of Skuchain’s offering in other industry sectors such as food and agribusiness.

Skuchain is also in the process of implementing a supplier financing programme based on its blockchain technology with one of Japan’s premier automotive manufacturers, with the California tech company set to make big strides in the Asian supply chain space this year.

At the crux of the product is blockchain-enabled track and trace technology, which helps manufacturers with complex supply chains ensure that products are traceable at every node. By harnessing IoT, such as RFID, it means factory workers don’t have to go through the arduous process of scanning each pallet of goods to ensure it is there, since RFID tech allows for goods to be scanned on a collective basis, using mobile phones.

The blockchain element comes with Skuchain’s Popcodes app, which allows for tracking and tracing goods at every point of the supply chain. Enabling all of this technology together reduces stock wastage, increases efficiency and allows companies to have greater control over their supply chains.

Rebecca Liao, Skuchain’s vice-president for business development and strategy, says that the work done on the physical side of the supply chain is more advanced than that of the financial side. But as large companies making big investments in blockchain technology, banks may have to follow in their footsteps, or be left behind.

“Banks were early to the story, because blockchain started as fintech. But they move slowly: there’s a lot involved with bank technology that is outside their control, including interoperability, standards and regulations. That is a much slower process, but on the supply chain side, our idea has always been to go after large anchor buyers because they have whole supply chains with lots of needs. We’re very excited to have Japan on board, their supply chains need no introduction,” she tells GTR.