Footwear manufacturer New Balance Athletics Inc. announced today the launch of a pilot program to track the authenticity of its newest basketball shoe using a distributed ledger blockchain to provide trust and provenance for every customer.
To provide the blockchain, New Balance teamed up with Input Output Hong Kong to develop the “New Balance Realchain.” The distributed ledger technology platform will be built atop IOHK’s Cardano blockchain.
The New Balance Realchain will launch alongside the release of the OMN1S shoes Friday, and the pilot program will allow new customers to record their ownership of the shoes.
Blockchain technology uses a massively distributed database that records transactions to every copy across a network while also using cryptography to secure data. Every transaction submitted to the network must be agreed upon by enough of the network to be added to the ledger and it’s then secured using cryptographic keys. Data about the authenticity and sales record of a luxury item thus can be tracked in a trustworthy manner.
For the New Balance OMN1S shoes, customers will receive a Realchain card with an embedded identity and security chip. Upon receiving the shoes, the customer can then use the New Balance app to scan a Quick Response code on the card with the app and will be prompted to scan the chip within the card and that will authenticate the shoes on the IOHK Cardano blockchain.
Customers can then claim ownership of the shoes by entering a code printed on the tongue of the shoes into the app. From this point on, the ownership of the shoes is secured to the owner using the New Balance Realchain blockchain platform.
“We are using blockchain technology to innovate at multiple points of the customer lifecycle,” said Ian Fitzpatrick, head of global content and digital marketing at New Balance. “We’re also helping customers feel confident that the footwear they are purchasing fulfill the quality promise that is central to the New Balance brand.”
This is the first deployment of IOHK’s Cardano blockchain in retail. Using this pilot as a testbed for future retail use, New Balance intends to continue to harness the power of blockchain technology for its products.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what New Balance customers make of the opportunity to protect their investment by verifying the authenticity of their new purchase forever, on the Cardano blockchain,” said Charles Hoskinson, chief executive of IOHK. “We believe that the New Balance OMN1S will be just the first of many products authenticated as genuine in this way, doing away with the need for paper receipts or certificates of authenticity forever.”
Blockchain technology’s usefulness to provide authentication for products has been piloted for shoes before by Chronicled Inc., a vintage sneaker company, which raised $3.4 million in 2016 to make a similar platform to New Balance. The luxury clothing brand Alyx, from designer Matthew William, announced a similar blockchain in May that used Iota Foundation’s blockchain to track the production of clothing from raw materials to final products enabling customers to “see the journey” that made their shirt or dress.
IOHK intends to continue to develop its Cardano blockchain technology and partner with governments and organizations in Georgia, Ethiopia, Mongolia and elsewhere, to use that technology to enable authenticity and identity proof for products and services.
In addition to providing provenance for the New Balance OMN1S sneakers with the Realchain platform, IOHK will continue to look for more opportunities to partner with other industry leaders for authenticating goods, reduce fraud and add value. The company intends to offer its blockchain to a wide spectrum of industries including pharmaceuticals, international development and finance.