Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president in charge of food safety, was once a “major skeptic” and “non-believer” in blockchain, the electronic ledger technology platform on which bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are built.
“I always advise people: if you’re a skeptic, stay in it; read, learn and more than that, try to do some work in it,” Yiannas said. “And, I’ve come around and I’ve become a believer. For me…, it’s more like a religious conversion. The more I got into blockchain, the more I thought this is the solution.”
The problem Yiannas wanted to solve? How to track the origin of every piece of fruit, meat or vegetable sold by a worldwide retailer of food with 12,000 stores – and tens of thousands of suppliers.
“There are these big, mighty food companies, but they have a weakness,” Yannas told attendees at the “Business of Blockchain” conference at MIT this week. “I think the food system has one major Achilles’ heel. Their Achilles’ heel is a lack of transparency.”