The United States House Subcommittees on Oversight and Research and Technology held a joint hearing yesterday titled, “Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Improve Supply Chain Management and Combat Counterfeit Goods.”
As reported by Coin Telegraph, the meeting discussed the potential for blockchain technology to benefit various supply chains. Blockchain technology was discussed as a way to reduce fraud within the supply chain, for example, improve transparency, and boost efficiency for both private and public sector industries.
The meeting opened with a statement from Chairman Ralph Abraham of Louisiana, who discussed how blockchain technology could improve the shipping, logistics, and customs process along the supply chain.
Congressman Abraham also emphasized a commitment to use the experience of private businesses with blockchain to improve government efficiency.
The meeting also hosted four witnesses who explained how blockchain technology has benefited their respective industries.
Three of the four witnesses were business professionals who discussed the benefits of blockchain in various private sector enterprises. Those professionals included a representative from baby goods company Luv n’care, the head of global trade digitization at the world’s largest container shipper company, Maersk, and the vice president for global customs brokerage at UPS.
Meanwhile, the public sector was represented by the cyber security division director for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
All four of these professionals explained how blockchain distributed ledger technology had led to significant efficiency benefits in their lines of work.
How the Public Sector is Benefiting from Blockchain Technology
To start, Dr. Douglas Maughan, cyber security division director for the DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate, explained how blockchain technology can optimize processes in the public sector.
Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security officer claimed that his organization was actively developing and testing a number of blockchain-based approaches to supply chain management and identity verification.
For identity verification, Dr. Maughan described a blockchain solution where the US Customs and Border Protection agency uses blockchain technology to ensure the authenticity of security camera footage.
Dr. Maughan, however, claimed the distributed ledger industry still has issues. He described how a lack of interoperable interfaces and standardized approaches are big problems in the industry. Companies are developing their own unique distributed ledger technologies, and there’s no single supply chain solution that is dominating the marketplace.
How the Private Sector is Using Blockchain Technology
Next, Congress called upon three representatives from the private sector to explain how blockchain technology was benefiting their respective industries.
A representative from baby goods company Luv n’care, for example, described how loose online standards and supply chain regulations were allowing foreign businesses to exploit Luv n’care’s brand to market their own baby products of inferior quality online. The company is seeking to use blockchain technology to prevent fraud and maintain quality within the supply chain.
The representative from Maersk, meanwhile, stressed the importance of blockchain technology for international trade. That representative discussed the benefits of an open and neutral platform for worldwide trade. Such a platform would dramatically increase the efficiency of international trade. Blockchain is the ideal technology for a platform like this.
Earlier this year, Maersk and IBM teamed up to announce a joint blockchain-related venture. The two giants will create a database of immutable records that will track the location of every single container at any point in time while also verifying the contents of each container.
Finally, the UPS representative described how the global shipping giant has been heavily researching distributed ledger technology to optimize its global distribution. Specifically, UPS outlined four potential benefits of distributed ledger technology, including integrity, transparency, interoperability, and security.
Question and Answer Session
After representatives from the public and private sectors explained the benefits of blockchain technology, the Congressional meeting turned to a question and answer session.
Various members of Congress asked questions related to the security of distributed ledger technology, its cooperation with international standards, and energy concerns.
Congressman McNerney of California, for example, was interested in the energy implications of using blockchain at scale to power the global shipping industries, including how massive logistics industries will gather the mining power required to verify data on these blockchains.
Another representative inquired on the risk of quantum computing at compromising blockchain’s security. Many people are aware that blockchain technology could be threatened by quantum computing. In response, Dr. Maughan of the DHS claimed quantum computing is 15 to 20 years away, while blockchain is already available today.
Other questions related to how blockchain technology would cooperate with standards organizations, or how blockchain technology can be used to securely compare digital records with real-life events.
Dr. Maughan, cited above, summed up the latest U.S. Congress meeting on blockchain technology best when he said that,
“Blockchains are rapidly moving from hype to reality.”
As the US government continues to explore the use of blockchain technology, distributed ledger technology is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives.
We would advise you guys to all take a further look into Cryptocurrencies as Securities, as well as all of the Ethereum SEC buzz that has been going on this week. Also, special thanks to CoinTelegraph for the additional breakdown information used above.