Of the million blockchain-related stories filed over the past few years, relatively few have mentioned Apple, as the company has barely addressed the topic despite plenty of investor speculation. But a new Apple SEC filing today will be of at least mild interest to crypto fans, as the company’s otherwise dry Conflict Minerals Report notes that it has been working on blockchain guidelines for the Responsible Business Alliance’s Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI).
Proprietary blockchain projects are already being deployed within the mineral supply industry to promote accounting transparency, but they’ve been designed with relatively limited scopes and definitions that will only serve specific companies. The Alliance explains that the guidelines seek to enable multiple mineral blockchain projects to work together, beginning by creating common definitions for all actors to use, and recommending fundamentals that should be included at each stage of the mineral supply chain.
Since Apple’s report is focused on its continued commitment to use minerals that don’t finance armed conflicts, it doesn’t get into the details of its blockchain work beyond to note that it participated in the initiative’s “blockchain team,” which is to say that it was one of a potentially large number of organizations providing input on that topic. The RMI has over 350 member companies and associations, though Apple’s report notes that it had leading roles last year: It chaired the Alliance and served on the RMI steering committee during 2018.
Even so, don’t get your hopes up for a broader blockchain story from Apple. It’s clear from the filing that this isn’t a major priority for the company, which also participated in at least three other Alliance working groups in addition to its leadership responsibilities. Prior clues regarding Apple’s possible use of blockchain, including a tiny reference in a December 2017 patent application, have thus far led to nothing of greater consequence. At most, the company appears to be aware of and lightly participating in crypto efforts, without going much further than dipping its toes in the water.