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Canadian Border Agency Pilots Blockchain

By John Ossowski, President CBSA

November 1, 2018

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), created in 2003, is responsible for facilitating legitimate travel and trade. Our broad public safety mandate provides services across 1,200 points of entry and 39 international locations. On an average day, we process over 58,600 commercial releases, 14,400 trucks, 240,000 mail items, and 127,400 courier shipments, collecting more than $88,200,000 (CDN) in duty and taxes.

Throughout the years, weíve worked to continually increase our effectiveness and improve the way in which we manage the access of people and commercial goods to and from our points of entry. Despite our efforts, broad universal challenges, from budgetary pressures to constrained resources, persist.

One technology weíre counting on to help us overcome these hurdles is blockchain. According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) governmental organizations are beginning to embrace blockchain to more easily and securely share data between institutions and individuals and promote more extensive collaboration.

The CBSA is one of them. We recently began participating in a pilot program with IBM that leverages TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled digital shipping solution. TradeLens was jointly developed by Maersk and IBM to promote more efficient and secure global trade.

With this TradeLens pilot, the CBSA has the opportunity to investigate how to create a singular, trusted digital supply chain for all shipments entering Canada. TradeLens gives us an opportunity to not only find process efficiencies and gain analytical insights, but improve data accuracy and targeting capabilities.

Itís early days still, but from what Iíve seen, blockchain has the potential to provide benefits for regulatory compliance and contract management, which remain largely paper-based, costly and complex processes. Blockchains can establish timely, immutable and transparent audit trails that have the potential to curb the costs of managing contracts and enforcing regulations. Itís exciting to be able to combine this potential with the proven and scalable cloud and data-sharing capabilities of TradeLens.

A successful pilot could lead to accelerated trusted shipments through Canadian ports and improve border and port security. The end result can be a faster and more reliable national supply chain which could positively impact Canadaís economic output.

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