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AWDC, De Beers Mull Blockchain Partnership

Dec 18, 2017 3:39 AM   By Rapaport News
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The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) is in discussions with De Beers about a potential blockchain venture, the Belgian trade organization said last week.

An AWDC study last year concluded that blockchain could increase transparency and confidence in the diamond industry, the group said. To that end, it put out an invitation in October asking companies in the blockchain sector for proposals on how to apply the technology to the trade.

Earlier this month, De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver announced the miner was investing in a new blockchain platform that would trace diamonds’ paths through the supply chain. It did not say with whom it was working on that project.

The AWDC is not currently involved in that initiative, a spokesperson for the group noted. However, the organization decided it made sense to talk to De Beers about a possible collaboration, since the AWDC had been investigating the field itself, the spokesperson added.

Blockchain technology keeps a permanent, tamper-proof record of every transaction that takes place on the platform, enabling users to keep track of past activities involving a given stone. De Beers’ venture would be the first traceability platform spanning the entire diamond pipeline, the miner claimed.

In particular, the increased ability to trace a diamond would make it easier for companies in the industry to access financing, explained Ari Epstein, CEO of the AWDC.

“We have been exploring many initiatives to further our mission to boost business in the rough and polished diamond trade, as well as manufacturing,” Epstein said. “In addition to our [business-to-business] initiatives in this field, we have closely examined blockchain technology as a potential solution to strengthen compliance as a means to reinforce the banks’ trust in the diamond industry.”

De Beers is working with BCG Digital Ventures to develop the blockchain platform, it added.

“One of the key principles guiding De Beers’ work is that the platform will be open and independent, as any traceability solution will only be effective if it is accessible for all,” a De Beers spokesperson said. “To achieve this, De Beers is working with leaders from across the industry, including the AWDC, and will continue to do so as we further progress this platform.”

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Tags: Antwerp World Diamond Centre, Ari Epstein, AWDC, Blockchain, blockchain technology, Bruce Cleaver, De Beers, financing, Rapaport News
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