At a time when the process of Digitalization exchanges and transactions between companies is intensifying. The issues of securing and making exchanges and document flows reliable are central. Blockchain provides strong answers by positioning itself as a single source of reliable information between BtoB partners.
To better understand this technology, how it works, and how it can be used in particular in a Digitalization strategy, we interviewed Mohamed Amine Legheraba, Technical Expert blockchain, cryptoassets & web3 at Deloitte.
What is blockchain?
"Blockchain is a technology developed since 2008, specialized in the storage and transmission of information. Each blockchain corresponds to a register, a large database that can be shared with all its users. Each user has access to this data, and can enter new information, according to rules set by a highly secure computer protocol.
Information is stored in the blockchain without any intermediaries. Every modification made by a user is therefore visible to all users in real time. This guarantees a single, reliable source of data."
How does blockchain work?
"The blockchain is a distributed database that stores the history of transactions between users since its creation. Each computer hosts a copy of the database. Each user has a cryptographic key that identifies him or her on the network, so we can know who entered each new piece of information.
When a transaction is made, it is transmitted throughout the network until it reaches the computer of a validating participant, known as a "miner". The miner checks whether or not the transaction is valid. If it is, it is included (along with other pending transactions) in the database in the form of a block of data (the "block" in "blockchain"). Once a block is added to the blockchain, it means that the transaction is irrevocable and unforgeable.
Unlike a "classic" transaction, the data does not circulate via a trusted third party, such as an institution or bank, but via a peer-to-peer network."
What advantages do companies have in using blockchain?
For a company, the use of Blockchain is an excellent driver of operational efficiency, reliability and fluidity of exchanges within its ecosystem.
In concrete terms, and regardless of its field of application or sector of activity, the use of blockchain enables:
- speed up transactions, because executing a transaction only takes a few minutes,
- information is highly secure and reliable, as it is validated by several validator nodes, which monitor the system and each other,
- increase efficiency throughout the supply chain process, as all data exchanged is standardized and harmonized, facilitatingautomation and optimizing processes by reducing the number of intermediaries,
- transparency and traceability of exchanges, as all users can see the transactions and their history".
How is Blockchain being used by businesses today?
"Today, Blockchain is predominantly used by the financial sector. Historically, this technology was designed to support the exchange of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. Indeed, these are international currencies and do not depend on any centralizing body. This means they can be exchanged inexpensively anywhere on the planet, without having to rely on a trusted third party.
But since then blockchain has conquered other sectors and created new value chains:
- in the financial sector for faster validation of banking transactions
- in the insurance sector to automate certain reimbursement procedures
- in logistics to ensure traceability of products and of the various interventions on the supply chain
- in the oil and gas sector to manage transaction cycles, determine prices and negotiate contracts".
Can you give us some examples of how blockchain can be applied to Digitalization documents?
1 - Guarantee the authenticity of invoices
Created in 2020 by Caisse des Dépôts, EDF, Engie and La Poste, Archipels has developed a Blockchain-based document certification platform. Specifically, it fetches the original document from the issuer and assigns it a unique digital identifier, and registers it in the blockchain with a timestamp.
For example, Archipels authenticates invoices issued by EDF, thus preventing document forgery.
2 - Certify official documents with probative value on a European scale
By 2030, citizens, residents and businesses in the European Union will be able to take advantage of a European digital identity thanks to a digital wallet installed on their smartphone.
Citizens will then be able to directly access their official identification documents and assert their authenticity in all member states. Each document will have a unique fingerprint on the blockchain that can be verified by applications.
This digital identity will also be recognized by private players offering online services (banking, car rental, apartment rental...).
Blockchain ushers in a new technological era with the promise of being able to cooperate and coordinate without a trusted third party. This promise is realized, for example, in the use case of NFTs and metaverses, as the blockchain guarantees the user control over these digital assets and properties. When it comes to Digitalization documents and electronic invoice electronic transactions, blockchain can complement EDI to guarantee smooth transactions between trading partners, based on reliable and verified documents whose probative value is guaranteed.