It feels like the pace of change in virtually every industry has accelerated over the last three decades. Watch a detective series from the early nineties, and you spend more time laughing at (or reminiscing for) a time before mobile phones and the internet, when people had to go back to offices to get information that was received through on noisy, interminably slow, fax machines.
We’ve all moved on since then. Even in the wine industry, which rightly takes great pride in its commitment to tradition and heritage, change has come. Tablet computers have replaced pen and paper when it comes to record keeping and viticulturists no longer rely on going back to the office to check Minitel for the long-term weather reports, they tend do it from their phones while out among their vines (and probably know the best spot on their terroir where they can get a signal). The changes are subtle, but they are definitely there.
While the production of wine has moved with the time, in some ways, the world of wine trading has avoided change. There is still a reliance on the exchange of paper when a trade takes place, an abundance of slow bureaucratic processes that ensure that everything is done correctly. Email attachments may have replaced the post, but beyond that there has been little change in the last quarter of a century.
In some ways this is great, because frankly it works. The value of a bottle or case of wine is contained in the expertise with which it is produced, its vintage, its age and the ability to prove its provenance. Fine wine is not a commoditised trade, every bottle is unique and over the years’ chateaux, vineyards, distributors, merchants and investors have created a trading ecosystem that protects the value of wine and respects the expertise with which it is produced.
There are issues though. Trading in fine wine tends to be reliant on extensive administrative procedures. These add costs and can make the process very slow indeed. For producers, this can make it more difficult to manage stock as paperwork winds its gradual way through the system, while for merchants it can reduce the number of potential buyers because many potential audiences are not used to the market’s slow transactions and high cost of trade.
WiV has developed a solution that keeps the reliability of the old system but will increase the speed and reduce the cost of trading fine wine. Using blockchain technology [LINK], we are developing a system that will assign a tradable token to each bottle or case of wine.
These tokens will contain a complete provenance for the wine it represents, making the wine’s history transparent to both sides of the trade, and transactions can be cleared and settled virtually instantaneously. Use of the blockchain means that the data is distributed globally and as a result very difficult to tamper with. This means that trades can be completed with more confidence than even paper-based deals which are susceptible to fraud and counterfeit.
What we hope to achieve is the creation of a system that compliments rather than disrupts the way that fine and investment grade wine is currently traded, interacting seamlessly with existing production, distribution and trading systems to make the whole process more efficient.
We are changing things certainly, but we are trying very hard not to be revolting.
The WiV platform is a secure, blockchain-based fine wine valuing system that brings together producers, buyers and sellers. For further details, please follow us @WiVteam or subscribe to updates at http://www.wiv.io