The Richemont Group has announced its intention to introduce blockchain technology to bring transparency to its supply chain, track goods and materials (including sales channels), reassure customers of product authenticity, and to fight counterfeiting.
The announcement was made by Professor Jin Keyu, a non-executive member of the Richemont board, who stated that its use will be in part to control the “parallel markets”. Before joining the board of directors, Jin was already a member of the Richemont Group Advisory Board.
The Group has decided to use blockchain start up Arianee’s network, which is based on Ethereum’s fully customisable blockchain (Web 3.0).
Richemont is expected to use blockchain technology to track the materials it uses from suppliers (including precious stones and gold) and the watches it sells over their lifespan. The latter, seen in conjunction with Richemont’s purchase of U.K. based Watchfinder, is of particular note in terms of how the Group may be viewing the secondary market for its watches.
Arianee state that they are in large part trying to address the huge counterfeit luxury goods problem by tracking any item that has a serial number, with anyone from the supply to the consumer, being able to use their blockchain network to validate and verify authenticity. Brands will be able to purchase tokens to generate certificates of authenticity that track these products, which will be able to be tracked even when sold on the secondary market. Anyone will be able to earn tokens by running a validation node, and there will be the capacity for third parties to build apps that earn tokens.
So basically, a buyer will be able to run the serial number of a watch through the Arianee blockchain via a phone app, and be able to see if the watch is authenticated by the brand and not stolen.
So why have the Richemont Group chosen Arianee? Well it may have something to do with the team behind it, which includes Arianee head of Business Develpment Jean-Marc Bellaiche who was, until March 2018, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development at Tiffany & Co, and Christian Jorge, Arianee Head of Operations and former Senior Vice President of pre-owned luxury goods marketplace Vestaire Collective.
Their list of advisors includes the COOs of Vacheron Constantin and Balenciaga, a Kering Board member, Global Head of Consumer Engagement at Moët Hennessy (LVMH), and Robert Jan Broer, founder of Fratello Watches.
According to their timeline at the link above, their official release of Arianee Suite V1, Arianee Protocol, and the launch of the Experts Network, will come at the end of 2019.