Fur Real? Businesses Test CryptoKitties-Inspired Ethereum Tech

Sure the cypherpunks love CryptoKitties, but it turns out luxury fashion brands are also taking a shine to the digital fluffballs.

Or at least, they’re into the technology behind the ethereum-based decentralized application that captured the hearts and minds of crypto enthusiasts in December of last year.

According to French startup Arianee, which boasts former employees and advisors from luxury brands such as Tiffany’s, Omega, Balenciaga and the Richemont group, the same technology can be used to help these firms create unique identities for bespoke handbags and expensive watches.

What Arianee did to test that theory was create a new blockchain – a copy of ethereum which combines both permissioned and permissionless elements through its use of a consensus mechanism it’s calling “proof-of-authority.” It’s permissionless in the sense that users who want to sell products to one another can interact with the blockchain, but the verifying of the ledger and issuance of new tokens is controlled by the participating businesses.

“The consensus that seals blocks and adds blocks is not fully accessible. You have to register your identity within our governance to become one of those nodes, and in our case, that’s really the brands or third-party experts,” explained Luc Jodet, head of business architecture at Arianee.

The crypto tokens running over the blockchain are based on ethereum’s ERC-721 standard for non-fungible tokens.

The ERC-721 standard is all about scarcity (non-fungible tokens are unique and distinguishable entities) and that makes for a logical solution to import from the gaming and digital collectible world to use for tokenizing luxury goods.

Jodet could not talk openly at this stage about which brands might be running nodes on the Arianee blockchain, but pointed to the startup’s advisors at Richemont – a Switzerland-based holding company that owns Cartier, Dunhill, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Purdey, Vacheron Constantin, and Van Cleef & Arpels – as logical candidates.

Commenting on the appropriation of these types of tokens for luxury goods tracking, Courtney Brock, co-founder and COO at Blockade Games, who’s been an advocate for the use of ERC-721 tokens for multiple business verticals, said one of the benefits of this token type is that a single contract could work for all goods and include all the information for each product line, season, production number, etc.

“The thing that 721s are really good for is tracking a unique asset,” she said, adding:

“If you were to use an ERC-20 or just a regular blockchain, you would actually have to create a new protocol for each line, like if you wanted to distinguish between lines.”

Handbags and glad rags

And with that, Arianee’s team sees two main benefits to high-end businesses from its smart assets technology.

First, there’s what it calls “post-production traceability,” which provides a readily verifiable authenticity stamp for each item. This can also carry details about the item’s provenance or its service history (expensive watches have to be serviced every two years) and this information can then easily be transferred if the item is resold.

The second, more subtle application is how the token connects the owner with the brand itself, as opposed to the intermediate retailer (again, useful for reselling luxury goods).

“Because it’s a token it can be transferred from one owner to another and can record information about the item’s history, with the smart asset there remains a connection, a communication channel, that is always open between the current owner and the brand,” Jodet said…

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