Open an economic magazine, listen to a business radio… what do we often talk about? Blockchain. The roller coaster of some cryptocurrencies is not for nothing. It only takes one influencer, Elon Musk, not to quote him, to praise Bitcoin for it to begin a vertical ascent. And as soon as it changes its mind, the same Bitcoin takes a plunge. When China decides to ban cryptocurrencies overnight to create its own, same cause, same effects.
Consequence of such an uproar: IT decision-makers do not always see very clearly about the blockchain. According to some of a formidable reliability and flawless security, for others an ecological disaster as it would consume so much energy.
In fact, the strengths of blockchain are real. And its scope goes far beyond the universe of cryptocurrency. Especially since there is a second innovation that has changed everything for the blockchain: that of smart contracts.
The smart contract revolution
The name blockchain (literally: blockchain) reflects its nature well. It is a register of time-stamped transactions classified in the form of blocks linked to each other. It has the advantage of ensuring that a transaction is secure, traceable and immutable.
The Ethereum blockchain has integrated another major concept: smart contracts. These allow the programming of rules that are executed automatically, in a deterministic manner and make it possible to manage the payment against delivery.
Since then, several blockchains have appeared, with “à la carte” configurations: the era of shared ledger technologies (DLT) begins.
Concrete applications, finally!
Quite quickly, it appeared that the field of application of the blockchain – smart contract couple largely exceeded that of cryptocurrencies. However, if the blockchain is regularly in the foreground, it is difficult to identify concrete “business” applications, functioning day after day.
An exception has however just emerged with the commissioning of Hannibal: 1st Regtech which uses the Blockchain – smart contract couple to prevent money laundering.
Tunisia happened to be on the FATF gray list. So it all started with a request from the Tunisian Commission for Financial Analysis CTAF which consists in establishing intelligent cooperation between the actors involved in the issue of protection against AML money laundering.
Seduced, the European Union did not hesitate to provide financial support for the operation by issuing a request for proposal for the implementation of Hannibal, as part of the support program for the reform and modernization of the security sector in favor of Tunisia. It was envisaged to create a large reservoir of financial data fed by various actors from the public as well as the private sector and which, once aggregated, were to produce alerts on questionable behavior at the financial level.
The challenge to be met was important because it involved aggregating information from disparate sources, establishing communications standards and defining a rule engine in order to trigger an intelligence capable of triggering alerts. However, this reservoir of data had to be supplied by various Tunisian actors (Ministry of the Interior, banking sector, post office, customs, etc.), little used to acting in concert. Yet it was necessary to go through it!
This is precisely what Hannibal is, an application that was put into service in January 2021 and which is already starting to bear fruit.
The keys to a successful blockchain application
Hannibal is concrete proof of the strengths of this technology. It becomes possible, from this experience, to define a set of guidelines for the success of such a project. For this, it is essential to support this transformation in order to acculturate the parties involved to this new way of cooperating.
It is important that they collaborate via a working group that makes it possible to share objectives and benefits. The project must be well defined but it must be part of the long term which implies a strategic watch and a culture of innovation within the teams.
Thus, Hannibal concretizes a functional use of the blockchain while putting, at the service of the beneficiaries, a reliable infrastructure allowing to establish a lasting collaboration. And that’s just the beginning.