60 second interview: Leanne Kemp

Face to face | 8 August 2017
25564552356863 (1).jpg

Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger, speaks to Katharine Morton about how technology and distributed ledger have helped the diamond trade establish provenance, and promote sustainable trade along the supply chain

What were the problems you were trying to solve in the diamond sector with Everledger, just that you couldn't actually identify diamonds?

We were looking at how to solve three problems. Firstly, in forms of document-tampering. Secondly, double-financing of the pipeline. And, lastly, identification of the diamonds themselves between synthetic and natural-formed stones.

The baseline of certification in the industry is the currency of our industry, and given that most of the documents associated with diamonds are in a paper-based format, we've seen heightened relations in terms of fraud and document-tampering of those certificates. The second problem is that because most of the systems in place are all paper-based, we've seen issues with banking, in terms of financing of the pipeline, where invoices have been double- and triple-financed. And the third issue is using machine vision and 40 identification points so that we can detect the difference between synthetic and natural stones. So, they're the three problems we set out to solve.

Where are you now with the project and how does it help with the diamond trade as it stands?

So, Everledger began in the heart of London in April 2015. We firstly, created 40 metadata points using extended technologies such as machine vision, high-definition photographs, to be able to create a thumbprint of the diamond. We write that thumbprint into the blockchain as a unique identifier that now allows us to know where diamonds are being sold and resold online in open marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. We work with certification houses to identify stones and with banks and insurance companies, to identify risk associated with finance and insurance. Since we incorporated Everledger in 2015, we now have 1.65 million diamonds that have been identified and certified into the blockchain.

How does the diamond sector define sustainable trade and why is sustainable trade important?

Sustainable trade has been an initiative ever since the Kimberley Process was formed 2000, which came off the process of the United Nations. Eighty-one countries came together, it was mandated across the globe, and that represented 99.8% of all diamond trading countries. It not only identified diamonds and put a mandate together around sustainability and ethics, it ensured that a system of warranties declaration was put in place, to enable that any stone that's traded through those 81 countries around the world adheres to the non-conflict resolution. So, any of those countries which 81 of them are a party to, if their diamonds are being traded or transported through those countries, there is a declaration in place that follows not only the path of the stone, but also the invoice of trade as well. So, it's called the Kimberley Process, and we also have the system of warranties, which is a pretty heavily-documented promise of the sustainability and ethics.

How can sustainable supply chains be created in other sectors, is there a role for the mindset of a toddler constantly asking 'what about sustainability'?

The diamond industry is an example of how an entire industry globally can come together to afford change, and there are other supply chains that have similar initiatives going forward, and other corporates that are involved, whether that be in textiles, or pharmaceuticals, that have made some of those efforts. But, ultimately, to get a real cover, there needs to be a relationship between industry, government and NGOs to initiate this collaboratively. And, any industry or corporate that can coordinate or orchestrate that is going to be at a lead advantage to those that are just singly trying to define sustainability and come up with some loose form of standards.

You are also looking at wine industry verification. How is that going?

We put a platform in place and released it to the market in November 2015. We partnered with a company, the first company that went live on the platform is Maureen Downey, who's the Sherlock Holmes of wine. She runs winefraud.com and has been instrumental in the conviction of the largest wine fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan. So, that authentication platform has been live since November 2015.

Where next for you?

We're following the core of the business, so, diamonds, watches, art, wine, collectables, automotive, anything that we think is a rising asset class where certification is paramount to authenticity, and more importantly that transparency is an important component of global supply chains, so that's where we're heavily focused.

Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger

Already registered? Login to access premium content

Give Feedback