In a recently published "Conflict Minerals Report" filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), computing giant Apple has detailed how the company is committed to using "minerals in its products that do not directly or indirectly finance armed conflict or benefit armed groups." But there's more: The filing also outlines Apple's involvement in drafting blockchain guidelines for the Responsible Business Alliance's (RBA) Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI).
The RBA, a nonprofit organization that works to support the rights and wellbeing of workers and communities affected by the global supply chain, published blockchain guidelines at the end of last year. The RMI project is a "coalition of leading companies dedicated to improving the security and human rights conditions in their mineral supply chains."
According to Apple's filing, the company "supported the development of certain industry-wide standards" including contributing to the blockchain guidelines associated with the RMI project. The guidelines work to promote "a common set of principles, attributes and definitions for the application of blockchain technology to support mineral supply chain due diligence." Though Apple isn't directly mentioned in the initiative's press release, the company is listed as a member of the project.
Most of the content within the filing pertains to highlighting the steps Apple has taken to "protect people in its supply chain, with the ultimate goal of improving conditions." Along with having chaired the board of the RBA, Apple also participated in several internal committees working on the RMI, including the project's blockchain team.
Unfortunately for crypto advocates, the filing doesn't say that Apple is developing any blockchain-related projects. While some believe that Apple could lead the way for the mass adoption of blockchain technology, this filing at least provides partial evidence that Apple's blockchain ambitions might be more humanitarianb-ased.
In 2016, the company reported that 20 percent of its cobalt, a mineral used in iPhone and iPad batteries, comes from "sources that don't currently have responsible sourcing programs in place to meet our rigorous requirements, and we're working closely with these suppliers to develop them." Like so many other blockchain projects happening right now, it's possible that Apple's initial blockchain efforts might be focused more on protecting the people in its supply chain, as its SEC filing states, rather than pursuing mass adoption.
At the very least, this filing shows that Apple has its finger in the crypto and blockchain pie, a space where it's generally existed rather quietly. In June 2018, the company updated its app store review guidelines to state that "Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining." Additionally, in Apple-adjacent developments, the company's co-founder, Steve Wozniak, announced in October 2018 that he would be a part of EQUI Global, an Ethereum-based venture capital fund that lets investors invest in businesses using the EquiToken.