“We are actively considering technologies that could help facilitate trade over the Northern Ireland-Ireland border”– UK Treasury
Of all the issues facing May’s Brexit deal, the Irish border persistently takes precedence over many currently facing the UK. The problem lies in the possibility of an Irish backstop or worse still, a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Implications in either case could pose a detrimental threat to social, economic and political bridges which have been built since the Good Friday agreement of 1998.
– Phillip Hammond
“The most obvious technology is blockchain”
The UK government has indicated that “the most obvious technology is blockchain” stated by Phillip Hammond in regards to solving the Irish customs border dispute. Of course, there are many technological possibilities for resolving the ongoing debate however blockchain is currently the most tangible option in terms of border trade. Such technology has the ability to solve two of the largest border issues: customs of goods flowing across the border and maintaining a border as free flowing as possible.
Blockchain has been a proposed solution to maintaining the status quo across each side of the border. Having proven its potential in the trade and finance industry, blockchain has taken the modern technology age by storm. Many organisations such as banks, car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies have embraced the new technology and its benefits to their process of business. Beyond finance, the benefits of blockchain in the trade industry are immense. Physical paperwork can be practically eliminated with documentation transferring instantly between parties. The security of a blockchain would eliminate the risk of counterfeit goods, costing the UK economy £17.3bn in 2016. Lastly, the cost of importing and exporting can be slashed through the speed and efficiency of a blockchain network
So how would a blockchain solve such a complex political issue? A blockchain network naturally presents all of the attributes which would be required to solve cross border trade. The digitization of supply chains through blockchain smart contracts, would allow all parties involved in a product journey to have shared access to a single, immutable ledger of transactions. Details and privacy would not be compromised due to the ability of blockchain networks to be permissioned. Meaning that each party has restricted access for adding or viewing data on the blockchain based on their requirements. Shippers, airlines, port terminal operators and customs authorities can all seamlessly interact with real-time data.
All products would be hashed onto the blockchain networks to track their origin and each party which has handled the goods. Further, livestock and perishable goods can be hashed with a microchip which communicates with the blockchain. The microchip would contain GPS, humidity and temperature sensors. Such features can all be used in order to create a safe and efficient trading network between the UK and Republic of Ireland.