December 2, 2016 | Written by: John Palfreyman
Friends in our government industry team tell me that there is much interest in their customer base in two specific use case clusters. The first is around supply chain – which I blogged about some time ago (at this link > http://bit.ly/BlockWhere) – the second around asset registry, which is the subject of this post.
What do I mean by an asset? As shown in figure 1, we define an asset as anything that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value.
Figure 1 – Asset Types / Classes
We see the main subdivision being tangible versus intangible as shown in the figure, but registration of both types of asset is a compelling use case for blockchain.
Blockchain adds four important attributes to a business network:
- Consensus: a method – agreed by all participants – by which a transaction is deemed valid;
- Provenance: a complete audit trail of transaction history ;
- Immutability: once committed, a transaction cannot be tampered with; and
- Finality: disputes won’t happen because the business network has one agreed system of record.
This in turn leads to improved efficiencies, reduced risk of fraud or cyber-attack, time savings and increased trust across the business networks.
We have been working with the Netherlands Vehicle Licensing Organisation (RDW), experimenting with blockchain for registration of electric bikes. The goal is to reduce bike thefts and streamline the insurance claims process when a bike gets stolen.
RDW registers a new bike then the bike shop associates it with its remote control lock, geo-locator and owner. This information is stored in a shared ledger which is selectively accessible by the police, local government and insurance company.
This is an easy to understand example of asset registration with clear and compelling benefits of improved efficiencies for all concerned, illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2 – Overview of RDW Project
Let’s take the four blockchain attributes listed above and consider how they enhance the asset registration use case in Table 3.
Table 3 – Value of Blockchain Attributes in Asset Registration
The electric bike registration is also an ideal “starter” use case so all involved can get first hand awareness what benefits the new distributed ledger technology brings across the business network of vehicle registration authority (DTW), dealer (bike shop), insurer, asset owner and law enforcement agency.
Asset registration from there gets both broad & deep. It could cover wide range of tangible asset types such as land, vehicles of various types or property (both commercial and domestic). It could also cover intangible assets such as video, images, music, documents or intellectual property.
Registration could encompass the lifecycle of a complex asset such as an oil rig, ship, train etc as shown in Figure 4 – but I’ve described this in a previous blog post on (complex) asset management.
Figure 4 – Asset Register / Lifecycle
The distributed ledger made possible by business blockchain technology – such as the Hyperledger Project – are ideally suited to the challenges of asset registration. The technology is at the early stages, but all members of the business network have much to gain through its application to this class of use case. And as illustrated by the RDW electric bike registration project, there is nothing to stop organisations from starting right now!
I’d be very interested in your opinion on this – leave me a comment here or get in touch via twitter or LinkedIn!
Want to know more about blockchain?
- Blockchain for Government
- Proving Provenance with Blockchain
- Blockchain and Cyber Security
- Everledger Project
- Blockchain Education
- Tackling Tax Evasion in a Digital Economy