A United Nations body that facilitates global trade is examining blockchain and smart contracts to see if they could play a role in its mission.
To that end, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has just published a white paper – now available for public review – that studies the nascent technology to see if it offers benefits that could impact its work or that of businesses and organizations.
With developing standards for trade facilitation and supply chain automation already a core part of its remit, UN/CEFACT focuses on the "smart contract, electronic notary and decentralised process coordination" features of blockchain, rather than its role in powering cryptocurrencies.
It further eyes the tech as a possible means to further move away from traditional paper-based processes and also to remove the need for trust in systems such as those used to manage supply chains.
Within the supply chain industry, a number of types of data can be effectively transmitted over blockchains, according to the paper, including insurance, invoicing, consignment and shipping, and bills of lading. It adds that distributed ledgers run by regulators could also store permits and declarations.
While the organization can see "clear value and use cases" for blockchain technology, it sees issues too.
"Blockchain technology does not solve the interoperability problem that UN/CEFACT standards have always supported," the paper says. "Also, different blockchains are far from equal in terms of the level of trust that participants should place in them."
However, the paper's authors also see a potential for the organization to help clarify this potential deluge of data, saying that there is "an opportunity for UN/CEFACT to leverage its existing semantic standards."
While blockchain, as well as other technologies like IoT, can contribute to increased supply chain efficiency, the paper suggests that more work is needed to fully ascertain their potential in facilitating trade mechanisms.
"It could be very useful to develop a conceptual model of the international supply chain that shows the role of each technology within the broader map of stakeholders, services, and standards," according to the authors.
Furthermore, the paper identifies gaps that the agency is "uniquely positioned to fill."
The authors go on to suggest that UN/CEFACT work with national delegations and experts and form working groups to develop new technical specifications around the technology.
Supply chain image via Shutterstock
The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
UNWhite PapersSupply ChainTrade
Bitcoin's Price Slides Below $6.5K to Hit 70-Day Low
The price of bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, fell to its lowest point since April 1 on Tuesday.
Bitcoin's value slid to $6,455.92 during the afternoon trading
India's Central Bank Stays Mum on Crypto Ban Reasoning
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has responded to a query about why it moved to block banks from dealing with cryptocurrency businesses earlier this year – but the reply isn't very telling.
Congressional Bill Calls for Study of Crypto Use in Sex Trafficking
Congress is set to consider yet another proposed mandate for a cryptocurrency study, this time in the area of sex trafficking.
The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee is introduci
No rest for bitcoin traders as wild movements and big milestones often happen on the weekends
For bitcoin traders, key times to buy or sell often come at the least opportune time to be behind a computer monitor: Saturday night. Some of the digital currency's steepest price swings have
Even as bitcoin plunges, it’s still more popular than Beyonce, crypto expert Brian Kelly says
Google searches for bitcoin have plummeted 75 percent this year, leading some to worry investors are losing interest in the buzzy cryptocurrency. Not bitcoin expert Brian Kelly. "It's probably
Apple Blocks Crypto Mining Apps On Its Products
Apple has moved to put a stop to any crypto-mining apps that might be used on its mobile products.
In a recent update, the personal computing company expanded its initial guidelines on cryptocurren
Money-Laundering Task Force Wants Binding Rules for Crypto Exchanges
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization that develops policies to tackle money laundering, is planning to develop binding rules for the world's cryptocurrency exchang
401(k) investing: How millennial men and women invest differently
Millennial men don't mind risky investments like Bitcoin, or boosting their money knowledge with the help of the financial media. But their female peers are wary of risk, leery of the unregulated