Projects

Project Review: Tael

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Tael (WABI) | Coin Review

Overview

One of the better-known use cases for blockchain technology is supply chain management. Tael, formerly known as WaBi, rebranded in late 2018, is clearly facing some stiff competition in this field, with big players like VeChain leading the way. However, Tael came up with some unique features and a more end-user focused approach in their technology. This could make them stand out or at least capture a significant share of the niche market they are planning to operate in. Tael was developed by the Chinese product authenticating firm Techrock (Walimai) to utilize the advantages of blockchain in the field of product authenticity control. Techrock, formerly known as Walimai, is the company heading the ecosystem in which Tael tokens are being used. Techrock has developed a proprietary authentication technology based on NFC/RFID labels, in combination with unique, dynamic codes and Hyperledger blockchain. By incentivizing the process of verifying a products’ originality, Walimai hopes to convince more people to help get fake products out of the market. Also, the company has built a marketplace, in which authentic products are sold, this will play a significant role in the Tael business model in the future.

What Problem does Tael solve?

The main idea behind Tael is simple and doesn’t really provide anything highly innovative. However, considering the potential market size for blockchain based supply chain solutions,  this isn’t a significant drawback in this case. On the surface, the Tael platform allows Items to be tracked using the network. This will enable manufacturers to follow all of their products along the supply chain and simply store the data in a secure and immutable way. On the other hand, this process helps consumers know that the product they are purchasing is authentic and hasn’t been manipulated.

At the moment, there is a significant influx of fake goods in the global market. Close to $500 billion in imported fake goods are estimated to circulate globally. While in the case of counterfeit clothing, this might only cause financial damage, it can also be downright dangerous in the case of medicines, food, baby formula, and similar items. And this is the area Tael is focused on. Another essential aspect to consider here is that fraudulent products are a severe concern in countries like China and India. In 2004, a minimum of 63 babies died from drinking fake baby milk in China, and in 2008, there were 300,000 victims from a similar scandal, including 54,000 hospitalizations and six infant deaths. While the team clearly identified a need in their home country, they could face problems in the future when it comes to the expansion of their business.  Often Chinese companies reach a “culture barrier” between themselves and investors. These Projects solve problems for the Asian markets, but investors outside of Asia may struggle to see that need from the outside.

However, the Asian market should provide enough potential for Tael to become a great success. The implementation of Blockchain and end-user participation does not only ensure, customers are consuming products that weren’t tampered with, but also on the enterprise side, Tael offers a way to foster customer retention through a reward-based loyalty system.

Product and Vision

Compared to its competitors, Tael is clearly more focused on integrating the end user into the process of verifying product originality. The project currently offers a standalone mobile app and an integrated platform for WeChat. Also, Tael launched TaelPay to ease integration of the blockchain-based payments and loyalty system with 3rd party retailers. Using patented Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, Tael helps to ensure the authenticity of consumer products. The tag is put on all goods that are moved through a designated ‘point of origin’ along the supply chain. This tag connects the good with its digital representation in the cloud that contains an encrypted, unique ID, dynamic code & geographical data. Users can scan the tags with their phone and instantly find out the status of the product.  This can be used by them to verify the authenticity of the product & to get other relevant information.

If the seal on the tag gets damaged, the RFID/NFC will not show up on the blockchain anymore.

The Wabi token helps create an incentive for users to scan products, this also counters the voting paradox to avoid a scenario where consumers do not scan the product due to which the system would not be updated.

Users gain Wabi tonkes when scanning anti-counterfeit labels on Walimai protected products. Consumers who choose to make purchases with Wabbi token through Techrock retail channels will benefit from discounted prices, improved delivery terms, and bonus Wabi with every purchase, through TaelPay. This User-centric approach is the most visible USP Tael has to offer. But it’s not the only one. Tael is focusing on baby food and other infant products market. The consumers in these markets are mothers, and they are willing to use any solution to ensure that their baby is safe and are more likely to pay a premium to ensure the safety of the products they are buying.

One concern I have with the technology is that it’s relatively simple. From a users perspective, this is great but will ultimately lead to a less secure position in terms of competition copying aspects of the Teal platform. The RFID technology has been around for years with countless applications & usages. Substantial market barriers will have to come through exceptional UX and strong partnerships/clients. Another risk Tael is facing, is the regulatory environment for crypto-based payments, which is threatened by uncertainty.

Team

The Website lists 7 Team Members. In this report, we will focus on 4 key roles. CEO Alexander Busarov is Former a McKinsey & Co. consultant, worked as a  Sales Director at a leading infant formula producer, the companies name is not displayed on LinkedIn or their website. He also guided project development for Russia and China-based companies as an independent advisor and is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

Co-Founder Yaroslav Belinskiy is a former consultant with Bain & Co., Business Development Manager at LP Amina and was Advising a leading FMCG manufacturer on a turn-around strategy in the Russian market, he has extensive experience in consumer goods. He also is a graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics.

Edward Tsang is the company’s CTO. He’s an experienced iOS and Android development leader for both B2C and B2B applications. Their team Website calls him a Blockchain and IoT enthusiast with a Computer Science Degree from Oxford University and an MBA from Tsinghua University.

Jackie Xu is the Marketing Director of Tael. She is a Former Managing Director of Edelman Shanghai, driving the corporate and brand PR of the entire agency. 13 years of experience at Mullenlowe Profero in various positions including Head of Solutions, Managing Director, and China CEO.

The team has experience in all critical areas that are necessary to make their idea succeed, only the tech side of the development team is lacking in experience, compared to other areas, based on available information. In addition to that, they have three advisors, that stand out for me. Bruno Mercier has managed several companies in China, Hong Kong, and France. His expertise in the Chinese retail business could be of significant impact to the project. Another advisor, Mario Pazos, is a former employee at MasterCard. Igor Livant formerly worked at Goldman Sachs and has a rich experience with fintech fundraising.

Token economics: What is the WABI Token?

The WABI token will be renamed to Tael in the future, is used in three major ways:

  • New coins are distributed into the market each time a consumer verifies a Walimai protected product. The consumer gets rewarded with Walimai tokens. However, this process is not the real sense of mining as known in the cryptocurrency space. WABI coins are all pre-mined.

  • Holders of the coins can use them to purchase products listed by Walimai at select retail stores. Currently, Walimai protects products related to cosmetics, alcohol, baby food and soon pharmaceuticals.

  • Customers with Walimai loyalty points will also have a chance to exchange their reward points for WABI tokens but cannot directly sell their tokens on exchanges, which should reduce the selling pressure when the product gets more adoption.

Techrock smart labels are already incentivized by the consumer’s desire to verify a product’s authenticity and track its journey through the supply chain, thus organically making the Tael ecosystem a part of their daily purchasing habit. The demand for the token increases with every new consumer joining the ecosystem. In essence, these tokens are being “hodled” by consumers until their next purchase, at which point they receive new WABI. The team’s vision is to have WABI (Tael) used on as many platforms as possible, eventually becoming a method of payment in everyday stores in China and other countries.

During then ICO, the team sold 46 million WABI that were available for sale out of a 100 million fixed total supply. 56 million WABI token are currently in circulation.

Growth potential and Roadmap

Tael already has a working product and has made real-world in-store sales. One thing you immediately notice when visiting the Tael website is the “Adoption Stats” page they have. On this page, they list all relevant information regarding the adoption of their Blockchain, from the number of products available to the number of transactions on the network. Most impressive statistics for me are close to 5,500 real customers who are using Wabi tokens, they make up 30% of the total number of token holders, which is remarkable for a blockchain project. Also, there has been exponential growth taking place in terms of transaction volume on the network, since the beginning of March 2019.

The website doesn’t have a typical “Roadmap” section, and in my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The team is pushing out updates and news regarding current and future developments through its medium page, and the “Adoption Stats”  page is updated regularly as well. Overall, Tael paints the image of a more mature company. The Website is easy to navigate and understand although there could be more graphics or videos showing the product in use.

While the competition in the area of blockchain based supply chain solutions is intense, the opportunity that lies in this market is enormous. Tael has a strong case here, as their technology is already working and used in the real world. According to the Teal website, there are already around 80 products available for tracking through the Techrock connection, including high demand brands like HIPP and Blackmores. Techrock allows brands to get started quickly and has already established relationships with big enterprises. Tael has been featured in major news outlets since 2017, marketing is another strong point here.

The team hopes to further create partnerships with distributors and producers of alcohol and baby foods, and also make adjustments to the technology to work with pharmaceutical products. By 2019, the team aims to expand Tael’s use to include loyalty programs with product manufacturers and partnerships with insurance companies.

Conclusion

Tael takes an interesting approach to provide security for consumer products prone to tamperings, like alcohol and baby food. Those are also high-margin product categories. While the demand for anti-counterfeit services by Chinese consumers certainly presents an opportunity for the Taels parent company, the question of how a token really fits into the picture and will be adopted by users in the long run, remains unanswered, as they are making impressive progress but are still far away from mass adoption. With its growing market presence in the Chinese market and association with growing product categories like pharmaceutical, FMCG, etc. Tael may, however, still be set up for a strong run in the markets and provides a promising long term investment opportunity.

My biggest concern overall is that the technology Tael is developing is inferior to the technologies Walton or Vechain are currently building. From a feature and complexity standpoint, Tael is not close to them. This could limit the type of industries that Tael can serve in the future, but could also set them up to become a leader in their niche market, as they are forced to be more focused in their approach. This leads to the conclusion that the project might not have the potential to become extremely large like some other projects in the space, but that doesn’t mean it is not an excellent investment opportunity.

WABI scored 54 out of 76 Points in our evaluation program.

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