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Blockchain Technologies at the Service of the Public Sector – Hello Future Orange

The creation of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) for the European public sector demonstrates the potential of blockchain technologies in the context of the digital transformation of administrations.

Tomorrow, the blockchain will be able to manage the payment of financial assistance to a social security recipient. It can cross-check with a blockchain that manages digital identity and another that contains information to verify a person’s eligibility for assistance. This would reduce the risk of fraud and automate the process, which was previously long for the citizen and costly for the administration.

Blockchain promises to create an atmosphere of trust and reduce the famous “red tape”.

This is what the future is envisioned by several states around the world that have been exploring the potential of blockchain technologies for the public sector for several years. Forming communities of practice, industry or cross-industry, as well as public-private partnerships, more and more of them are implementing various applications related to identification, document certification, etc. In Europe, the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) is a concrete example of a blockchain, managed by the public sector.

Confidence, fluidity and cost reduction

The success of the digitization of public services requires addressing a number of issues related to trust, transparency or efficiency. For example, the adoption of a digital platform by all users requires allaying their concerns about the security and privacy of their personal data.

Due to its unique characteristics (immutability, consensus, irrevocability and traceability), blockchain can help solve these problems. The promise is to create an atmosphere of trust and streamline certain processes, thus reducing the famous “bureaucratic red tape”.

Specifically, the blockchain offers a decentralized infrastructure in which transactions (the exchange of digital assets – for example, a file – and changing their status or state) can be carried out between different administrations, between administrations and citizens, and also between citizens (when they include an element of public service).

In this context, this technology offers two advantages over the traditional centralized databases described by the University of Lille in a white paper on the subject. On the one hand, it guarantees real-time data integrity and traceability for transparent collaboration between users without recourse to an external trusted third party. On the other hand, it allows self-execution of “smart contracts” to automate and secure processes, which is the key to improving efficiency and quality.

“In the case of government services, this means, for example, that the blockchain can facilitate the verification of official documents without having to contact their issuer every time,” the authors of the white paper explain.

The potential benefits of using blockchain are numerous. These range from reducing the cost and time of checking documents to reducing the risk of fraud by allowing government officials to visualize the evolution of a document.

Turnkey blockchain infrastructure

Knowing these benefits, in 2018 Europe launched the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP), a joint initiative between the European Commission, the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), Norway and Liechtenstein. Purpose: to use the potential of blockchain technologies to improve and innovate in national and transnational public services in the fields of healthcare, education, anti-fraud, etc.

This initiative has led to the creation of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure, which is to offer states “a turnkey environment and infrastructure that provides a high level of cooperation and unprecedented governance to improve and innovate in matters of national and transnational public services.”

EBSI is a network of blockchain nodes distributed across Europe and hosted by EBP approved operators that provide public administrations, businesses and citizens with cross-border public services. Consisting of different layers (infrastructure, basic services such as timestamp and electronic signature, and use cases), it brings together several a la carte technology blocks that an administration can use to implement its own digital transformation strategy.

These technology blocks, already available and tested, should support a certain number of use cases selected by the partnership member states.

“Easy to check, impossible to falsify”

Indeed, EBSI relies on a small number of specific applications that will grow over time. These applications are grouped into three main families of use cases, thematic areas where blockchain technologies can help solve a number of issues.

These are verifiable attestations (with the aim of “making information easily verifiable but impossible to falsify”), traceability and traceability (“trace and trace”), and finally, reliable data exchange. So far, EBP has only identified the first domain.

There are several applications within these families, each with specific goals:

  • Self Identity: Allows users to create and manage their own identities across borders without relying on centralized authorities, with a bridge to technology enabled by the eIDAS regulation.
  • Empowerment: Give back control to citizens when managing their education records, dramatically reducing verification costs and increasing trust in authenticity.
  • Notarization: Create robust digital audit trails (an audit trail allows you to track all steps of the billing process), automate certain compliance checks, and prove data integrity.
  • Secure data exchange: secure data exchange between EU authorities (starting with IOSS tax identification numbers).
  • Asylum Applications: Facilitate the management of cross-border and “trans-authorized” asylum application procedures.
  • European Social Security Number: Facilitating cross-border access to social services.
  • SME/ETI finance

In a working paper published in 2018, the OECD also identified a number of interesting use cases such as registration of land rights, management of intellectual property rights, or management of service transfer contracts. expenses.

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