Health News Supply chain

Bahrain to use blockchain for food, pharma traceability, customs amid COVID-19


Bahrain-based pharmaceuticals track and trace firm MVC Global announced a partnership with Cox Logistics to launch the ‘SmartHub’ logistics warehouse for food and pharmaceutical products. 

The smart warehouse will use blockchain and other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) for the efficient distribution of food and medicines in Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market. 

The SmartHub’s track and trace feature is based on blockchain, while smart contracts will handle customs clearance and payments. The latter solution is called ‘SmartPass’, which works for government clearance while integrating supply chain finance and cross-border payments facilities. 

MVC Global is a unit of AVC Global, the U.S.-based agricultural value chain firm. MVC has another partner, rfxcel, that provides a track and trace product suite using emerging technologies such as IoT and blockchain. Now, Cox is joining the trio to deploy a network of SmartHubs and node operations with SmartPass across the GCC. 

“Due to the ongoing pandemic, the availability, authenticity and safety of pharmaceutical and agricultural food supply chains is a more urgent priority than ever before,” said Shaikha Dheya Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa’s, MVC Global Chairwoman. 

“Our (Bahrain’s) geo-centric location at the heart of the Middle East, advanced customs policies and regulations, and competitive cost of doing business are integral components of our logistics value proposition that keeps attracting many international companies to setup regional operations in Bahrain,” said Husain Rajab, CIO at Bahrain Economic Development Board.

Currently, the SmartHubs are in the process of being deployed in the country. The focus is to secure pharmaceutical and food supply chains, which are now under a lot of pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the announcement said that more partnerships would be announced soon. So, it is likely that the SmartHub solution will be scaled up to include other products and supply chains.

Bahrain is nurturing blockchain applications and has extended support to several blockchain projects in the country. In 2017, the Economic Development Board endorsed blockchain and approved 28 blockchain firms. The country is currently exploring a central bank digital currency and was among the first to regulate Bitcoin in the Gulf. 

Bahrain’s Electronic Network for Financial Transactions (BENEFIT) is using blockchain for a national Know Your Customer (KYC) utility. BENEFIT also has a partnership with Mastercard to develop a blockchain-based cross-border B2B payments network. 

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