Making ONTOCHAIN Practical for E-Commerce


University of Catania (Coordinator)
Giampaolo Bella (PI)
Domenico Cantone
Marianna Nicolosi-Asmundo
Daniele Francesco Santamaria

The Sicilian Wheat Bank S.p.A. (Partner)
Cristiano Longo

Project summary. Even though blockchain technology may contribute to make a sustainable, resilient, and trustworthy digital commerce as conceived by the ONTOCHAIN philosophy, however its realization demands a consistent, unambiguous, and shared semantic model supporting the interoperability of heterogeneous stakeholders, including blockchain constitutional elements, applications, and people. The Semantic Web is conceived to provide appropriate representation languages that describe the objects of the world observed with formally defined semantics. The yearned digital commerce demands an ontological approach leveraging a hierarchical semantic modelling towards the effective and efficient interoperability of blockchain technology with the eCommerce domain, from commercial actors to supply chains, including distribution, pricing, and selling mechanisms. Literature is reach of representation models that can be combined and appropriately extended to meaningfully describe digital marketplaces. POC4COMMERCE addresses the challenge of developing a consistent, unambiguous, and shared model supporting the semantic interoperability of the ONTOCHAIN heterogeneous stakeholders, by delivering a stack of the most appropriate ontologies for the building blocks constituting the ONTOCHAIN ecosystem in general and the eCommerce specifically. More precisely, POC4COMMERCE identifies three main layers. The first layer exploits the ontology OASIS to depict the stakeholders of the ONTOCHAIN ecosystem, vertically focused on the commercial environment. The second layer is responsible for describing commercial offers and products by extending the ontology GoodRelations. The third layer absorbs OASIS and the BLONDiE ontology to provide a clear description of blockchains, and in particular, of the Ethereum public ledger, including smart contracts used to generate, destroy, and exchange (digital) tokens. Finally, POC4COMMERCE provides on top of the ontological stack a search engine that profitably finds goods, products, information, and services, meeting the end user requirements and published by the wide array of ONTOCHAIN commercial participants. On one hand, POC4COMMERCE, also thanks to the vision of a semantic blockchain, impacts on how digital commerce is carried out in the Web 3.0 and beyond by realizing an affordable marketplace, where sellers and buyers may freely choose the services associated with their business activities, making the ONTOCHAIN ecosystem readily functioning and building a sustainable environment for people and software to interoperate. On the other hand POC4COMMERCE contributes to a shift towards a novel micro-economic model where individuals and companies cooperate and coordinate, deciding the allocation and utilization of resources, without third-parties intermediaries, instantiating the equilibrium between demand and supply, which determines the competitive capability of any organization. The project is leaded by a team of researchers and teachers of the University of Catania (UNICT) and by a young SME, the Sicilian Wheat Bank (SWB), already running a blockchain-enabled marketplace, developed under the supervision of UNICT, offering essential functionalities for trading Sicilian wheat. SWB will practically act as a deployment site for the ONTOCHAIN ecosystem: the impact on UNICT will be correspondingly large, sparking off a new strand of publications and a new breed of research projects and development activities, at least covering Call 2 and Call 3 of ONTOCHAIN.

swb unict ngi