Aura Blockchain Consortium’s CEO on bringing luxury onto the blockchain

    Romain Carrere, CEO of luxury blockchain solution Aura Blockchain Consortium, reveals the latest on Digital Product Passports, shifting consumer mindsets, and the gold standard in luxury’s tech revolution.
    A Hublot watch being registered on the Aura blockchain. Photo: Hublot

    Since 2021, the Aura Blockchain Consortium has been powering some of luxury’s biggest maneuvers on the blockchain, enriching the digital ecosystem, and enabling the development of direct relationships between brands and their end consumers.

    Comprising luxury behemoths LVMH, Richemont, Mercedes Benz, OTB, and Prada Group, the non-profit organization has facilitated the digital transformations of a roster of clients, including Bulgari, Tod’s, Dior, Loro Piana, and Chopard. To date, the Consortium has brought more than 30 million products from 40 of luxury’s power players onto the blockchain.

    Crypto’s boom and bust cycle has led to much speculation around the long-term robustness of the blockchain. Recognizing its potential, but also the stark absence of a reliable system that delivers a luxury-standard experience, Aura was founded to fill the void.

    How has the landscape changed since Aura entered the game three years ago? While skepticism remains, breakthroughs such as Digital Product Passports (DPPs) are gaining widespread acceptance across luxury; a shift largely fueled by Aura’s contribution.

    Imminent regulations from the European Commission, which will see all fashion goods be fitted with a digital product passport and a ‘digital twin’ by 2026, is driving more luxury businesses to harness the blockchain. As more retailers opt in to the tech, Aura remains the gold standard.

    Jing Daily sat down with Romain Carrere, CEO of the Aura Blockchain Consortium, to discuss the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain-powered products, how he’s steering the Consortium towards a new growth phase, and how Digital Product Passports are poised to spur a luxury revolution.

    The Aura Blockchain Consortium is facilitating some of luxury's biggest brand's moves onto the blockchain. Photo: Loro Piana
    The Aura Blockchain Consortium is facilitating some of luxury's biggest brand's moves onto the blockchain. Photo: Loro Piana

    Jing Daily: How is Aura trying to improve the luxury-standard experience for both brands and consumers on the blockchain?

    Romain Carrere: We focus on three key areas to elevate the customer experience – regulatory, storytelling, and utilities – which involves offering full product traceability, as well as a seamless transfer of ownership of products. Another of our strengths is that we are the only solution to provide a private blockchain and the public blockchain. This means brands can transfer all of their information to a private blockchain rather than public-facing [one] to leverage security, while allowing consumers to experience the benefits of a public blockchain with their digital twins.

    JD: How does Aura define whether a brand’s blockchain activation has been successful?

    RC: Every brand measures their ‘success’ differently, but the main goal is to ensure that consumers are actually accessing their digital product passports and digital twins. They want to see if the user clicked on the features and the utilities that the brand provided. But brands need to educate their customers. We saw in the early days that brands weren’t telling their consumers that they could tap their products to access information, so nobody knew. We also advise brands to flesh out the utility via DPPs for the consumer, such as adding loyalty features and VIP benefits to achieve better KPIs.

    JD: How will the new Digital Product Passports legislation encourage brands to be more transparent around their supply chains, as well as empower consumers to be more conscious about their purchasing decisions?

    RC: It gives brands a clear indication of what information they need to provide with a deadline, rather than allowing them to select and omit what information they offer. For customers, I think they want to learn more about their products but don’t want to have to spend time working out how to do so; so it needs to be a seamless process. I think it will encourage them to be more careful with their choices and value the lifecycle of a product more, meaning they’re more likely to repair their product than simply replace it.

    Louis Vuitton's LV fine jewelry line is powered by the Aura Blockchain Consortium. Photo: Louis Vuitton
    Louis Vuitton's LV fine jewelry line is powered by the Aura Blockchain Consortium. Photo: Louis Vuitton

    JD: What are the pain points when it comes to implementing DPPs into luxury products?

    RC: There are two. One is being able to collate all the information about a product, as they often use different suppliers for different materials in different parts of the world, which can make it quite challenging. The other is actually embedding technology like near-field communication chips (NFC) into physical products, and how this impacts the supply chain.

    JD: What about when it comes to encouraging consumers to trust the blockchain?

    RC: We steer away from promoting and talking about the blockchain, instead focusing on delivering a seamless, very easy experience for users to not overcomplicate things. We’re also working at an incredibly fast pace to onboard brands on the blockchain. For example, Tod’s joined the Consortium in August last year. By October, we had launched the DPPs for their bags.

    JD: Besides digital product passports, are there any other emerging technologies that you feel are promising for luxury?

    RC: AI is a huge buzzword at the moment, but we’re exploring its potential. For example, we’re using AI image fingerprinting as an alternative to NFC chips in products like watches, where NFC chips aren’t able to be effectively inserted. We’re also using AI to determine authenticity. Owners can take a high definition image of their product to create a unique digital identity, like we did for Hublot, which can then be scanned. So if the watch gets scratched over time, AI can confirm whether that scratch is from general usage, or whether it’s because it’s an inauthentic product.

    The Aura Blockchain Consortium onboarded Italian luxury house Tod's onto the blockchain last year. Photo: Tod's
    The Aura Blockchain Consortium onboarded Italian luxury house Tod's onto the blockchain last year. Photo: Tod's

    JD: How does Aura plan to navigate the upcoming EU regulations on DPPs, and what impact does it anticipate the law will have on the fashion industry?

    RC: It requires a huge effort from both ourselves and the brands. We're in close contact with the EU and are trying to get all the information needed to help brands navigate the regulations. It’s evolving, and is going to evolve rapidly, so we are focusing on being informed and prepared.

    JD: What are Aura's growth plans, and how does it anticipate the consortium evolving?

    RC: We have grown a lot. We don’t disclose revenue, but I think Aura will continue to see exponential growth as we progress from the discovery phase. Today, some of our brands remain in the piloting phase, while others are advancing and now putting millions of products onto the blockchain. I think once the regulation on DPPs comes into effect, that’s when we will see real growth.

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