bext360, a startup developing technologies to streamline critical supply chains in emerging economies, is coming out of stealth mode, and one interesting innovation they have come up with is using blockchain technology to allow for the traceability of coffee beans from "bean-to-brew".
Through this technology, it will be possible to keep track of fair-trade payments made to coffee farmers in Congo, Rwanda and other emerging markets where coffee beans are farmed.
The startup has also announced its first product, a patented kiosk machine that will use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the coffee beans and divide them into grades based on quality. In turn, coffee farmers will have access to a mobile app linked to the machine that can view offer amounts of each grade and accept offers for payment. Once a farmer accepts an offer, they will receive immediate payment for their coffee beans.
The whole process will be powered by Stellar, a network of decentralized servers running blockchain technology.
The distributed ledger at the heart of the blockchain records every transaction in the system for people, farmers and companies alike allowing for a complete copy of the global ledger to exist on each Stellar server. With this, the Stellar network makes it possible for bext360 to accurately process payments and credits, making sure that all parties involved in the transaction — companies, farmers and co-ops — can access the data transparently, and farmers can be paid in real-time.
Illustration of the bext360 kiosk.
"bext360 is transforming the coffee supply chain while bringing consumers and farming communities together to improve product quality, community livelihoods, and the consumer coffee experience," said Daniel Nones, CEO of bext360.
bext360 has also announced the closure of a $1.2 million funding round led by SKS Venture Partners.
Daniel Jones, CEO of bext360
"bext360 hit a number of our investment criteria," said D. Mark Spencer, founding partner SKS Venture Partners.
"What excites us," Spencer continued, "is that bext360 bridges the gap between a coffee farmer and your morning cup of coffee. Knowing the farmer receives a fair payment on the spot through their smartphone based on volume and quality of beans is exciting technology."
Coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world with an approximately $100 billion market worldwide. More importantly, women account for 70% of coffee farmers around the world and in Afrika, but as Stellar also highlights, farming communities in developing countries are forced to accept low prices and delayed payments for their harvested coffee beans making the launch of the bext360 kiosks and mobile app for coffee farmers a welcome product.
"This mobile access allows bext360 to implement our technology directly into the supply chain for traditional optimization, product payment, and the financing of capital equipment necessary to increase the value of commodities in the country of origin, bringing more equity to local businesses and communities in emerging economies." said Jones.