«Blockchain will allow brands to take their digital fate back into their own hands»
Working as an associative consortium, Arianee aims at democratizing the blockchain technology within the luxury industry. Interview with Emmanuelle Collet, Cofounder of this Parisian startup that bets on digital identity to revolutionize client relationships.
By Fabio Bonavita06 août 2020
What impact has the Covid-19 crisis had on the blockchain industry?
Just like everyone else, our work capacity and our calendar have been impacted. Some projects have been postponed because of our clients’ lack of resources or because of boutique closures. Nevertheless, once the first few uncertain weeks went by, digital became the main solution out of the crisis. One of our clients even let us know that innovation projects were strongly supported by his management during these unprecedented times, as these projects maintain both internal teams’ and clients’ spirits high.
It has been said that the crisis would boost the secondhand luxury business, do you believe that?
Absolutely. The secondhand market hasn’t waited for Covid to record double-digit growth. Back in 2018, the studies were then already betting on a 44% growth by 2021! Just look at the marketplaces such as Chronos24, The RealReal, Collector Square or even Vestiaire Collective. Private investors continue to inject massive liquidities into these companies to support their growth. This is not philanthropy: there are substantial advantages at stake!
Would there be serious consequences for a luxury brand if it chose not to use blockchain today? If so, of what would they be?
The brands which have access to this database of client knowledge will evidently benefit from it
Emmanuelle Collet, co-founder of Arianee
Let’s imagine a world where the Arianee certifications grant access to multiple key services for clients. If the client is hesitant between two houses, he could decide to choose the house that offers products which benefit from the Arianee protocol. For example, if you are a fan of the video game Call of Duty, being able to virtually showcase your watch in this world would be the small push that could tip the scale. Not to mention that thanks to this certification, you would be in contact with all the owners of your object at a given moment, regardless of the sales channel. The brands which have access to this database of client knowledge will evidently benefit from it.
Therefore, to adopt this technology seems fundamental from a strategic perspective?
Yes, and the reason is twofold: first of all, this technology allows new uses that help luxury brands transition from a transactional approach to a service-focused approach. These services, provided they aren’t organized on a blockchain-like open-source and open-access solution, will end up in the hands of GAFAs, which brands are highly depending on today. Blockchain empowers brands to take back their digital fate into their own hands. Secondly, private data protection is a demand which will only increase over the coming years. This demand will come from clients of course, but from public authorities as well, and from some actors internal to companies that are already aware of the risks linked to storing private data. Some brands have already chosen to stop collecting client data, fearing the consequences in the occurrence of a hacking.
Nevertheless, consumers still don’t understand what blockchain really is about. Can this be a curb?
You probably don’t understand how TCP/IP or SMTP work, yet you still use it every day when you log on to the internet or when you send an email. Technology is only a means to an end. The real question isn’t how luxury uses blockchain, but why. If I quote Ben Horowitz, the founder of the venture capital fund Andreessen-Horowitz, blockchain is a new technological platform that brings new functionalities. It allows to create unique digital objects, of which only you are the owner. To say it simply: owning an Arianee certificate is just like owning a paper certificate: no one can take it from you by mistake because of a system administrator’s misguided action or worse, because of a hack. It’s a revolution, as it allows to bring behaviors from the physical world to the digital, and this wasn’t possible until now.
Can you explain your technology to the non-connoisseurs in two sentences?
Arianee is the digital passport of your product, which enables you to prove its authenticity, your ownership of it as well as record important events of its history. This passport is the access key to an ecosystem of digital services which keeps on growing. For example, you can insure your product in a click with your certificate.
Are there other concrete uses made possible by blockchain?
Beyond simply digitalizing paper certificates, which is already a big step in itself, the Arianee certificate recorded on a blockchain is the access key to numerous digital services, as you are enabled to prove that you are the owner of an authentic product online. There’s the insurance in a click, a global lost and found, anonymous clientelling, virtualization to be able to wear your objects in the digital worlds. But this is only a beginning, and we expect many developers will handle the protocol and imagine services which we haven’t even thought of. That’s the beauty of an open protocol and that’s the strength of the internet.
Arianee presents itself as an associative consortium and not a company: how does that make you different from your competitors?
Being an associative consortium is the guarantee for brands we work with that we will never be bought by Amazon or another giant of the new technology business. Moreover, this means brands that are members of the consortium have a real influence on technological and commercial development strategies. Each Maison can influence the protocol’s development. Brainstorming together on future client needs allows to mutualize our efforts in order to build the technology they need. It’s a true strength because, when a member presents Arianee, it’s also their project, not only ours!
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