Invented by Thomas T. Hanis, Bruce H. Hyre, Jessica G. Snyder, International Business Machines Corp

The Market For Tracking Assets Using a Blockchain

Asset tracking is the process of tracking goods or products from their source to their final destination. This is an essential aspect of supply chain management as it helps prevent theft or tampering during transit.

Blockchain technology makes this possible through a secure ledger that ensures all parties involved in an economic deal can follow along the chain of custody from start to finish. This ensures that businesses remain transparent throughout the entire transaction.


Blockchain technology is a hot topic in the asset tracking market due to its potential to save organizations money and streamline processes. For instance, hotel chains typically lose up to 30% of their total revenue due to commissions paid to third-party booking services; however, using blockchain could eliminate this expense completely.

Blockchains use a distributed record-keeping system called a ledger to keep track of each transaction and its participants. Each asset gets an unique identifier and digital signature which can be verified by other members in the blockchain network. As such, it acts as a kind of shared, trusted database, allowing people to exchange information without relying on centralized systems like banks.

Blockchain technology is being applied in the pharmaceutical industry to trace prescription drugs and other products to verify they are genuine, not counterfeit. Drugs are tagged with electronic product codes that meet GS1 standards which are then scanned and recorded on the blockchain, enabling companies to follow a drug from its source all the way to its end user.

Logistics and transport firms have also seen the potential of blockchain to better manage inventory, cut costs and enhance customer satisfaction. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) has formed an industry-wide association to develop frameworks that make tracking truck and ship fleets simpler.

Another advantage of blockchain is its speedy and secure processing. Financial institutions currently need to route payments and other business deals through their systems, which may take days for settlement. With a blockchain system in place, however, those same transactions can be completed within just hours.

Retailing firms are adopting blockchain technology to manage their supply chains, with an emphasis on inventory, information and financial flows. These companies are creating platforms that can boost efficiency in these processes by sharing and reconciling data as well as providing audit trails for assurance that everything remains on track.

Insurance agencies are also utilizing blockchain technology to increase contract security in their businesses, decreasing the risk of forgery and allowing different parties to compare contract versions more easily. For instance, the B3i Re platform enables insurers, reinsurers, and brokers to create and administer contracts on a distributed ledger.


Transparency is an essential element for any successful blockchain-based asset tracking solution. This allows all stakeholders to view the full history of an asset’s journey, from manufacturing through sale.

Transparency is especially crucial in supply chains, where all parties require accurate knowledge about an asset’s status and provenance. This data can help businesses improve their operational efficiency as well as boost the value of their products in the marketplace.

Transparency can also reduce the likelihood of fraud and bribery. It guarantees that all parties involved in a transaction are aware of its details, enabling them to conduct it securely.

Transparency can also benefit companies by decreasing the risks of wild stock price swings. This is because all market participants use the same data when making investment decisions.

Transparency in business terms refers to ensuring the goals and intentions of a company are clearly understood by all involved. This is essential for preventing illegal activity by companies, as well as helping consumers decide if they can trust a particular brand or not.

Therefore, business owners must strive to enhance the transparency of their operations. This can be accomplished through smart contracts and ensuring that any assets purchased by them are recorded on a blockchain.

To accomplish this, they require a system that is secure and dependable. This way, they can monitor the assets in their inventory to guarantee they are being utilized appropriately.

Businesses can achieve this by integrating an Internet of Things (IoT) system into their operations. Doing so allows them to connect connected devices that collect real-time data about the condition of their assets and verify records on a blockchain.

This type of system has the potential to revolutionize how businesses manage their assets. It can boost operational efficiency and save time while increasing product safety. Furthermore, it reduces theft risks and fraudulent activities, while streamlining financial processes.


Blockchain is a technology that facilitates asset exchanges in an unguarded and open system. By eliminating intermediaries like lawyers or auditors, businesses can save significant costs through this process.

Blockchain technology also offers secure record-keeping systems. Each time a document is modified on the blockchain, all computers in the network must confirm it before it can be reflected elsewhere. This makes it much more challenging for hackers to gain access to data since they need to know which computer holds it.

Blockchain also reduces the likelihood of fraudulent transactions, since it’s harder for someone to alter information and falsely claim they are the legitimate owner of an asset. As a result, blockchain can significantly reduce fraud in this industry.

Security and identity management are top priorities for many asset managers, as these areas can be highly sensitive and vulnerable to hacking or malware attacks. Blockchain technology offers a solution to this problem by creating a distributed ledger with an irrefutable cryptographic signature, enabling asset managers to verify that their clients are indeed who they say they are.

It is also an invaluable asset for auditing and forensics in supply chains. By guaranteeing products are not counterfeited, companies can prevent errors that could result in financial losses as well as damage to their reputation.

Blockchain can also be highly beneficial in the area of regulatory compliance. Automating reporting processes and streamlining reporting procedures not only reduces costs and boosts productivity, but it also meets the requirements for anti-money laundering initiatives and privacy laws.

Zero-knowledge proofs can significantly enhance the security of records on a blockchain. These proofs form an integral part of blockchain security, guaranteeing that records cannot be altered without jeopardizing confidentiality.

Asset tracking in the supply chain, where counterfeiting and other types of errors are common issues, is especially crucial. Businesses can utilize IoT devices and sensors to automatically scan goods and add records to the blockchain, ensuring they don’t send out fake products to their customers.


Interoperability is the capability for two or more systems, devices, applications or products to communicate and work together without needing user intervention. This feature of technology helps businesses achieve greater efficiency as well as a comprehensive view of their data.

Healthcare: Interoperability in the health care industry allows clinicians to exchange data between multiple hospital, lab and pharmacy systems for seamless patient access to treatment and improved outcomes. It also helps standardize public health data collection and reporting practices.

Security: Interoperability is made possible with a secure communication system between different systems, which helps prevent data theft and fraud. With this setup, all relevant stakeholders have full visibility and control over transactions.

Transparency: Interoperability offers another major advantage, allowing all stakeholders to monitor a transaction from start to finish, leading to more accurate and dependable decision-making – particularly in supply chains and logistics operations. This can be particularly advantageous in these instances.

Blockchain can be employed to create a central database of asset details that is accessible by all stakeholders and allows for real-time verification of asset legitimacy.

Transparency can be a powerful asset in the business world and immensely valuable to customers. Furthermore, it enables more precise and timely decision-making about an asset’s future use and upkeep.

Interoperability solutions in the blockchain sector make it simpler for businesses to track physical assets and monitor their usage throughout their entire lifecycle, from purchase order through end of service. Doing so increases operational efficiency while decreasing costs.

To achieve this goal, it’s necessary to adopt a common data format and protocol standard that is acceptable to all parties involved. This includes structured and standardized data exchange through the implementation of an organized vocabulary that codifies its meaning for receiving systems to interpret correctly. Furthermore, data can be sent and received in any language so all parties understand what they’re getting.

The International Business Machines Corp invention works as follows

A blockchain of transactions can be referenced for different purposes and may later be accessed by interested parties to verify ledger validity. One method is to read a tag attached to an asset and transmit a request for an update to the asset status in a blockchain. The request will be validated based on the content of the request.

Background for Tracking assets using a blockchain

The blockchain could be used to store information. The blockchain is primarily used to facilitate financial transactions but it can also store assets such as products, packages, and services. Blockchain can be used to determine ownership, provenance, and a historical record about status, changes, locations, and other information. Tracked assets can include a serial number that uniquely identifies each item. This serial number could also be used as a key identifier in the ledger. There may be fraud or misappropriation of the ledger for tracking asset updates. A source may submit a fraudulent attempt at controlling the asset from someone who only has the serial number. This is a way to determine if a source has actual possession.

One example embodiment could include the following: reading a tag attached to an asset, sending a request for updating an asset status in a blockchain, receiving validation verification based on the content of the request, and updating an asset status in the blockchain.

Another example embodiment could include one or more of the following: a processor that can read a tag attached to an asset; a transmitter that transmits a request for updating the asset status in a blockchain; and a receiver that receives validation confirmation based upon the content of the request. The processor is then configured to update the asset’s status in the blockchain.

Another example embodiment could include a non-transitory computer-readable storage medium that stores instructions that, when executed, cause one or more to read a tag attached to an asset, transmit a request for an asset status update in a Blockchain, receive validation confirmation based upon the content of the request and update the asset status in the Blockchain.

It will be apparent that the components of the instant invention, as shown in the figures, can be placed in many different ways. The following description of the embodiments, including at least one, of a method and apparatus, non-transitory computing readable medium, and system, as illustrated in the attached figures is not intended limit the scope or claim, but it is representative of select embodiments.

The instant features and structures or characteristics described in this specification can be combined in any way that suits the purposes of one or more embodiments. The usage of phrases like “example embodiments”, “some embodiments”, or similar language throughout this specification indicates that an embodiment could include a specific feature, structure, or characteristic related to the embodiment. The phrases “example embodiments”, “in some embodiments?”, “in other embodiments?”, or any other similar language throughout this specification don’t necessarily refer to the same group. Furthermore, the features, structures, and characteristics described in this specification may be combined in any way that suits the needs of one or more embodiments.

In addition, the term’message’ may be used in the description of embodiments. While the term?message? may have been used to describe embodiments, the application can be applied to any type of network data such as packet, frame, or datagram. The term “message” can also be used. The term “message” can also refer to packet, frame, or datagram. While certain types of signals and messages may be shown in certain embodiments, they are not limited by a particular type of message and the application does not limit itself to that type of signaling.

Example embodiments include storing asset information on a blockchain, to storing assets status information on a blockchain, and requiring security measures before allowing asset status changes to be permitted. Another embodiment is to use a public blockchain ledger to track assets. Assets can be shipments or products, multiple products, or devices. Tracked assets can be identified using a serial number (or product identifier) that uniquely identifies each asset. When determining whether a ledger update is coming from someone who actually owns the asset, the serial number may be the primary identifier. A source with only knowledge of an asset’s serial number may mismanage the identifier and attempt to remotely modify/hack/control its status based on that serial number. Serialization technology is used, such as RFID tags and other wireless tags that include readable or writable memories. This allows security and authorization to read and write to the tags. This may involve a user memory that reads a permanent serial number from a tag and a nonce. A nonce can be random or pseudorandom numbers that are only used once for a blockchain transaction.

A memory portion of the tag can be used to store an identifier or a secret knowledge measure. This will provide additional validation that the person trying to update the ledger has the asset and is capable of extracting the dynamic variable. In this case, the dynamic nonce is the dynamic nonce. The dynamic nonce is the one that was last updated when the asset was identified in a shipment, custody, supervision, transfer or other type of chain. It scans the RFID tag or wireless tag to identify the asset periodically and updates a central tracking system with the product shipment information. The nonce is updated after an asset update in the blockchain. This nonce, which is unique and new, is created from the RFID tag. An attempt to update the ledger will produce an expected value of the nonce that can be identified from the RFID tag. This value is also known to the blockchain data. If the validity is confirmed, the next expected value of the nonce will be updated in both the RFID tag and the blockchain. This means that entities identifying the product ID might not be able to access the most recent nonce stored in the RFID or in the blockchain from previous asset log operations. After an update to the blockchain, the new nonce value is assigned arbitrarily by the reader device.

FIG. 1. illustrates an asset update and identification operation 100 using a Blockchain according to example embodiments. Referring to FIG. Referring to FIG. A tag can be an RFID tag attached to the asset 110 using a magnet, stick adhesive or another affixing method. The tag 112 can also be integrated into the body of the asset 110 in other embodiments. The radio communication functions 114 and a memory 116 may be included in the tag 112. This allows for product ID information, nonce data, as well as other data to be stored. A RF reader 120 or RF device 120 may communicate with a computer system (not illustrated) that can communicate with a Blockchain or other data storage systems. A product may be dispatched from one location, such as a factory, received at another location, and then dispatched to a driver. The product/asset status and asset status can be updated in blockchain for an immutable record and update of the asset’s existence.

If the asset has not been updated since its initial update (prior to this one), “The tag memory116 could contain a nonce value, or an empty value. Nonce can be described as a pseudo-random or random number that is only used once to hash a blockchain entry. Reader 120 can scan the tag 112 to extract the product ID, nonce value 134, and other application data 136. These data may be partially or entirely extracted from asset 110 or substituted from other sources when the data is stored in the blockchain. Information could include the time, number and details of transactions, asset specification data and blockchain-related information.

A serial number assigned can be read from the tag or?user memory. This allows for the upload of updateable data to the tag. This allows for a nonce to be added in the user memory section 116 of the tag 112 which will serve as a second level verification that the person who is trying to update the ledger has the asset in their possession. It also matches the nonce value stored on the blockchain. After every ledger update, the nonce is dynamically updated. The blockchain ledger becomes a validation source for any attempt to update the ledger. It also contains the expected nonce value, which is also stored in it.

In this case, a ledger upgrade may include several pieces of information such as validators, including the serial number on the tag which is the asset ID, nonce value from the tag and a newly updated nuce value which is the new nonce that will be added to the tag after the previous nonce is used for validation of the blockchain transaction. An update to the ledger can be used to track and identify the location of an item relative to the rest. An update to the ledger may be necessary to establish a pedigree in a supply chain (i.e. anti-tampering). This update could also serve as an operational control, such as the establishment of a transit time, dwell times, and?cohort? analysis, etc.

When issuing the new nonce consider that two pieces of information are required to update a ledger. One is the serial number. This is fixed and can easily be?known’. Various parties. The other is a rotating value, or “nonce”, that changes with every transaction. The nonce will then be associated with the object and also be known by the ledger. The tag will be read to determine the serial number and current nonce. These two pieces of information will be required to validate a transaction update to the ledger. A?next nonce’ will also be included in the transaction request. The ledger will keep the following value. The tag will be updated by the reader device with the?next nuce? value. When the tag is read at its next stop, the process continues. The serial and nonce of the tag are read and sent to the ledger as a transaction. The tag will have the updated value. If the nonce value matches the value in the blockchain, the value is valid.

The ledger can determine if a serial numbered tag’s nonce value was the expected value. This is done by comparing the nonce value with the one in the blockchain. This value cannot be obtained from the tag. If the nonce value is valid, the ledger will update the next expected nonce reference with the provided nonce. This allows the next update request for the ledger to be validated. The two-factor authentication mechanism for tag identification helps to reduce fraud and protect against fraudulent absent observation ledger updates. This means that a tag can be successfully referenced to the ledger by using two pieces information, including an assigned asset tags serial ID and a rotating identity key (nonce). Nonce is used for?originality? “A given ledger request is made to protect against replay attacks and confederate system attempts to record tag observations using only the tag serial number.

In one example, an Asset is Tracked at Location?A?” With tag?T?. This is an initial tracking operation. At the location?A An object with tag?T? is read, the read information of tag?T? contains tag ID, such as?12345678 Nonce: . Location A (reader device, server, etc.) Creates a random number nonce (for example,?858469071245). to be used for the next nonce. The current nonce in this example is blank because of an initial asset identification. The ledger update also includes application specific information. The ledger will retrieve the most recent reference for tag ID?12345678. The value in this instance is null, or non-existent. This indicates that it is the first attempt to enter. Additional validation is not required. The reference to tag ID?12345678 is added to the ledger. This also specifies the next expected nonce value at?858469071245?. To identify other transactions details, application specific information is also included to the ledger entry. Location?A is thus updated. Updates tag T user information, setting nonce value of tags to?858469071245?”

FIG. 2. illustrates an example platform signaling to update asset status on the blockchain in accordance with example embodiments. Referring to FIG. FIG. 2 shows the system configuration 200. It includes a tag210 that is attached to, near, or integrated with the asset being monitored. The location site or reader 220 is the part of the current location of the asset/tag. The blockchain 230 and the reader device 220 are other entities in the example system 200. The device may have a processor and memory. The store product ID 212 is assigned as the asset in this example and stored in the memory tag 210. The tag and asset may be moved to another location. In this case, the reader device/location site 220 can initiate a tag reading operation 214. The tag reader 220 can retrieve information about the tag and any nonce values that were previously stored in the tag. A wireless access device, such as a tag reader, may receive RF signals from the tag. The tag reader 220 could generate a new nonce 216, at any time during the communication session between the tag and blockchain 230. The blockchain 230 receives the retrieved tag information along with any nonce values that were previously stored in the tag. This information is sent as a request 218. The blockchain 230 can retrieve any asset information stored previously for the product ID provided 222. It may also determine if the nonce is present or if it is a first update (224). The asset’s status information is updated 226 with the nonce value that was created during the asset transaction. If the tag has had a transaction update, the 228 tag update can include the updated nonce value. The nonce value will be sent to tag 232 and then stored in tag 210.

Another example is that an asset is tracked at a different location?B?” With tag?T?. The location?B The tag?T?” may be read by the reader. This example will contain a previously assigned nonce because it is not the first transaction, as in the case with location?A. Information taken from tag?T Tag ID:?12345678 Nonce:?858469071245 The location?B Device may generate a random number,?026254866907. To be used after the transaction with the previous nonce has been completed. Location?B Location?B? This replaces the previous value. The request to the ledger to update the ledger includes application specific information. The ledger can retrieve the latest tag ID reference:?12345678 The ledger may retrieve a tag ID:?12345678?. This value is included in the update request along with the current nonce from tag read operation. The ledger update request has been validated. The updated ledger includes a new reference to tag ID?12345678 It also specifies the expected next nonce value at?02625486690707?. The ledger entry also contains application specific information. Location?B is an example. Updates tag T user information, which changes the tag nonce value from?02625486690707?. An application specific information could include a supply chain, a e-pedigree to pharmaceuticals, ownership/provenance of high value items and general location tracking use cases.

FIG. 3A shows a flow diagram 300 illustrating an example of how to update assets in the Blockchain according to certain embodiments. Referring to FIG. FIG. 3A shows how the method can be used to read a tag attached to an asset 312, to transmit a request for an update to the asset status in a blockchain 314, to receive validation confirmation based upon request content 316 and to update the asset status in the blockchain 318. Request content can include a tag identifier and nonce values stored in the tag, as well as a new nonce value to be used for an update to the blockchain. When the request content is transmitted with the tag identifier, and the nonce value, validation confirmation will be received. A radio frequency identification (RFID), component or a memory may be included in the tag. The tag identifier and nonce value are stored in the memory. The initial value of the nonce stored in memory is null/null before any update to asset status in blockchain. However, updating the memory to store new nonce values may be done after asset status has been updated in blockchain.

FIG. 3B shows a flow diagram 350 showing another method for authorizing and updating assets on the blockchain in accordance with example embodiments. Referring to FIG. Referring to FIG. As an additional security measure, this alternative method may include identifying the history of location information stored on the tag and in the blockchain. Access will only be granted to those locations that are identical to those in the blockchain if the security requirements are met. Each time an RFID tag is read, scanned or accessed at any place, the locations can be recorded. To create a list that corresponds to the information in blockchain, the locations can be added to each location.

The above embodiments can be implemented in hardware, in computer programs executed by a processor or in firmware. A computer program can be embedded on a computer-readable medium such as a storage media. A computer program could, for example, reside in random access memory. ), flash memory or read-only memory (??ROM?). ), erasable, programmable read only memory (?EPROM) ), Electrically erasable, programmable read only memory (?EEPROM) Registers, registers, hard drive, a removable disc, a compact disk read only memory (?CDROM?),?EEPROM? ), or any other storage medium that is known to the art.

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