The potential of Australia’s agricultural sector was recently brought to light by a StartupAUS report, revealing that, supported by agritech, the agricultural space can develop into a $100 billion industry by 2030. The report sought to highlight how technology can improve farm productivity, management and sustainability through the use of drones, smart sensors and robotics.
However, a technology that has been less talked about in terms of agritech is blockchain. Traditionally used in the fintech sector, blockchain’s multitude of applications has caused other sectors like health and now agriculture to consider its use. Still yet to be widely adopted in Australia, mainly due to people still questioning what it is and how it can be used, blockchain technology is now being recognised as a tool to speed up settlements and lower costs for both small and large companies.
Sydney startup Full Profile is one of Australia’s only companies that is creating solutions for the cross sections of fintech and agritech. Using blockchain technology and smart contracts, Full Profile has developed a platform called AgriDigital that helps farmers get paid in real-time to solve the industry problem of counterparty risk for buyers and banks.
AgriDigital is still in its pilot stage and will be the first ever live and in-market use of blockchain in physical agricultural commodities. The startup is developing commodity management and settlement software solutions using agri-blockchains and smart contracts. The startup is also exploring other agritech opportunities such as novel grower financing, simple on-farm contract management, and solutions for livestock, wool, rice, cotton and horticultural industries.
Full Profile CEO Emma Weston said the AgriDigital solution ensures growers get paid for what they deliver and when they deliver.
“With AgriDigital, all parties with a claim on the proceeds, such as growers, banks, logistics providers, and any levy or end point royalty collectors, will be paid simultaneously and securely, and provided access to provenance data,” she said.
“This is hugely important as it reduces counterparty risk for growers, a known problem in the agribusiness industry. Financing and stock reconciliation and management is also derisked for buyers and banks with our smart contracts stream lining inventory financing of commodities removing inefficiencies and risks in the current processes.”
AgriDigital works on desktops, tablets and smartphones and allows both growers and buyers to seamlessly create, view and manage grain deliveries, contracts, invoices and payments. Growers can use the platform to receive instant notification via SMS once grain is unloaded, and alerts farmers once grain has been transferred from farm to warehouse.
On the other hand, the software helps buyers create prices and contracts, manage deliveries and invoices, including remittance and deduction. The platform gives buyers a real-time view into their operations, including an interface with their grower customers, to save time and money.
Earlier this year Full Profile launched AgriDigital in New York’s FinovateFall conference, becoming the first ever agritech startup out of more than 2,000 demos to present on the Finovate stage.
“FinovateFall was the perfect venue to launch AgriDigital and highlight the huge opportunities for agritech in both Australian and global agriculture. We’re proud of what we showcased and of our uniqueness, not only as Australians, but also as an agritech startup bringing blockchain solutions to physical commodity supply chains,” said Weston.
Weston explained that Full Profile was first formed to look at the entrenched challenges in the agricultural industry and bring technology-based solutions to solve them.
“We started with commodity management solutions. This exploration led us to blockchain, and from there we developed the idea for our AgriDigital platform,” she said.
Weston believes there are three compelling cases for the use of blockchain in agriculture: the first being tracking provenance to enable farm to plate transparency, second to expand low-cost financing options for farmers in the developing world and the third to display real-time management of supply chain transactions and financing.
Full Profile is capitalising on the third opportunity, where they have yet to identify any companies developing blockchain settlement solutions specifically for agriculture. Weston believes that companies are yet to jump on this opportunity because of the complexities of agri-commodity transactions.
“There are multiple players and the industry in general lacks widespread adoption of software technologies. Solution providers in this space must therefore have both domain knowledge and technical expertise: we have both. Our strategy is to be first to market with an agri-blockchain solution that can be applied to all commodities and across all geographies.”
According to an InnovationAus report, over the past two years there has been a meteoric rise in the number of patents involving blockchain. Currently only $20 billion or 0.025 percent of the world’s GDP is held in blockchain, with experts suggesting a strong increase over the next decade.
InnovationAus: Blockchain Patents
Currently AgriDigital is focused on gaining traction for its software for both buyers and growers Australia-wide. The platform is set to go live in Australia during the 2016-17 grains harvest. For growers participating in the pilot the platform will be free.
After the live launch AgriDigital will be exploring opportunities in the Canadian Grains industry as part of its expansion to other commodities and other geographies.
Image: Full Profile Team. Source: Supplied.