One of the most beneficial applications of blockchain is for SMEs, the small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Italian economy, due to its extremely diversified and export-oriented structure, may represent a fertile ground for the development of solutions related to distributed ledgers.
In particular, exchanges at international level could be a fruitful testing space for the development of solutions based on distributed ledgers (Distributed Ledger Technology).
Blockchain for SMEs: transparency, security and traceability
The possibility of recording the path taken, for example, by products in the food sector is a device that can ensure the protection of Made in Italy.
Not only the food sector, but also the manufacturing, banking and sports sectors, just to name a few, can take advantage of the features of blockchain, ensuring transparency during the production phases, the safety of compliance with regulations and the traceability of the life cycle of the products processed and marketed.
Italy is a world-leading country in the fashion industry. Made in Italy garments have an added value linked to the high quality of Italian tailoring. Guaranteeing, through the blockchain, that the various phases of the realization of the garments have taken place in compliance with the regulations and on Italian territory, without delocalization of production, is certainly for consumers an extra sign of transparency.
The production and distribution chain can exploit blockchain technology to highlight and defend the best quality of products.
Innovative Italian SMEs are focusing on testing DLT solutions to be made available to different sectors for commercial purposes. As technologies develop, the fields of application in different branches of industry are also multiplying.
Even in the financial, insurance and utilities sectors, a decision by governments to invest in new technologies is beginning to be seen.
The OSCE research study
Italy was the first European country to fund a research study conducted by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) that had the task of investigating the implications that blockchain would have on the ecosystem of SMEs and startups.
The main difficulties encountered by the companies, which participated in the study, were related to the complexity, indecipherability and vagueness of the relevant regulations:
- Public funding opportunities at the local and national level are not well defined;
- Lack of comprehensive jurisdiction prevents businesses from fully exploiting innovation potential;
- Lack of clear guidance on funding and how to obtain it increases distrust of technology.
From a supranational and international perspective, cooperation is crucial to accelerate the process of technology diffusion through the sharing of defined standards.
The use of blockchain for agricultural SMEs
In particular, with regard to farms, the use of blockchain can bring enormous benefits.
Already in the digitization phase of paper files for crop registration, inaccuracies can be corrected and removed, quickly and with intuitive mechanisms.
Then, all players in the supply chain are involved in entering information regarding raw materials.
Data is collected either through manual recording or with the use of IoT sensors. Weather conditions, water resources, and chemical treatments used to measure product quality and environmental impact are information that is good to communicate to the consumer.
By leveraging distributed records, both intermediary industries and consumers can be properly informed and learn about all production processes, thus comprehensively communicating product quality and characteristics.
The advantage for producers, on the other hand, lies in having a clearer overview of actual and potential buyers and in the possibility of mapping the various distribution chains in a contextual manner.
Being able to offer consumers a certification of authenticity and quality that specifies and traces the various stages of the production chain from origin to large-scale distribution gives the product an enormous added value.
Alongside these numerous potential advantages, the regulatory development will certainly have to be followed with great attention, which will have to adapt to the numerous innovations that will be brought about by the use of blockchain.