The cryptocurrency industry is in a state of constant flux due to sparse governmental regulations. Financial regulators are hesitant to jump into a field that they don’t understand and their research process moves at a snail’s pace – particularly for an industry that thrives on rapid progress. However, other areas of the government are actively looking to incorporate blockchain technology to streamline their own processes. The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency recently announced that they were exploring options to easily validate international shipments.
The announcement was made at this year’s Trade Symposium, but the project already appears to be well into development. In their own terms, the system is entering a ‘live fire’ proof-of-concept phase that will include initial testing. Compared to some private blockchain projects, the scope of the CBP’s system is manageable and reasonable – which allows for more rapid deployment.
U.S. Border Patrol and the Global Supply Chain
The issue U.S. Customs intends to fix is the process of shipment validation. Currently, the process is labor intensive, requires multiple steps, and assistance from other agencies in order to process the large amount of potentially fraudulent items, documents, etc. Items that pass through international customs require manifests and paperwork that can theoretically be falsified – where as a blockchain system can be verified at each step of the shipment. Should the shipment deviate from the original manifest, U.S. Customs can track it back through a timeline of validations and determine the malefactor.
Blockchain is perfect for this, as the third-party validation inherent in a distributed ledger prevents a single entity from falsifying records. While it doesn’t prevent theft of goods or intellectual property, it does simplify the paperwork process for the agency and free up valuable resources for other forms of enforcement. Records and certifications can easily be attached to the validation documents, allowing agents to easily call up critical information.
Blockchain and Government Initiatives
U.S. Customs is not the first governmental agency to consider the advantages of blockchain technology. While the U.S. government is only beginning to enter the blockchain space, other nations are eagerly adopting the emerging technology. The Republic of Georgia uses the Bitcoin blockchain itself to secure land titles, while Australia has a program that is similar in scope to that of the U.S. Customs project.
Private enterprise Horizon State focuses solely on producing blockchain systems for voting. Their pilot program is taking place in Singapore, aimed at securing the voting process against fraud and corruption. Ultimately, blockchain technology holds the potential to vastly streamline many government processes – most of which are paperwork and labor intensive. This would make government services more efficient, and in turn create greater value for the average citizen.
Article By: Adam Stone