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Blockchain in single windows

Use cases and policy framework for blockchain in Single Windows 

Blockchain opens tremendous opportunities for undoing inefficiencies and high coordination costs in world trade.  Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen was hired by the Inter-American Development Bank and World Economic Forum to coordinate a research project on the uses of blockchain in single windows, with two dozen global experts. The result is a report Windows of Opportunity: Facilitating Trade with Blockchain Technology. The report argues that blockchain has various value propositions in single windows, such as:


  • Fuel interoperability among agencies making up a national single window and cross-border, among national single windows: improve visibility to manage risks, recognize patterns, conduct pre-arrival processing, share data and improve user experience;

  • Increase traceability: enable more complete data on shipments, supply chains and audit trails by bringing together single windows and/or private sector trade intermediaries on a common blockchain;

  • Automate processes: automate payments and reconciliation to accelerate revenue collection; and

  • Increase the trustworthiness of data: make data immutable and provide single-window users with unique identities, enabling them to apportion relevant parts of their identities to third-party service providers.

To attain these gains, we present six key steps for operationalizing blockchain into single windows:

  • Create a grand vision and make the business case, ensuring high-level political support; 

  • Establish a governance structure, including for data, design and implementation; 

  • Build the technology architecture and integrate blockchain with existing systems;  

  • Manage user identities and data, by testing digital identifies for users;

  • Measure impact by developing and track Key Performance Indicators and report on the progress and results; and

  • Iterate and assess pilot results to further improve and scale.

Suominen presented the report to policy and technology leaders from single windows and customs agencies across the Americas and Asia in Santiago, Chile, on 29 August. See PPT here.

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