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Blockchain, Michelin and Customs, a deepening of the use and benefits

During the period from February 15 to March 31, 2019, Customs, in partnership with Michelin and their customs service provider BDP International, tested a tracking tool related to the special Inward Processing (IP) regime based on blockchain technology.

Michelin is the beneficiary of an authorization from IP for all retreading operations on the Bourges site in France (replacement of the worn tread of the tire with a new one). During the experiment, Michelin and BDP International seized some 300 entries corresponding to the life of the goods covered by this authorization.

The prototype, developed by Sopra Steria on behalf of the Customs, allows to record, continuously and unfalsifiable, the events resulting from the logistic and industrial processes (arrival of the goods and placement under the regime, movements, transformations, exit of the goods, etc.). Since the private registry of the blockchain provides a view of the data that is shared among its users, the customs and the operator benefit from real-time monitoring dashboards, allowing an immediate and simple audit of the data. This operation was designed to replace the transmission of customs records at regular intervals to Customs. This approach has demonstrated the undeniable interest in the management of active improvement (time saving, visual tracking, alerts, etc.) and the use of the blockchain for this purpose has proved suitable. However, to take full advantage of the added value of the technology, it would be necessary to go further in the experiment, for example, by connecting the tool to the information system of an operator in order to access a more precise goods and better traceability. As a follow-up to this work, a detailed study was carried out in order to estimate the work necessary for the maturation of the prototype to make it a tool proposed to all operators.

In parallel with these actions, a brainstorming process was carried out to identify new cases of use relevant for the use of blockchain technology. About fifteen potential use cases have been considered. The blockchain announces radically new services but raises important technical and organizational challenges, especially when the blockchain is shared within a consortium of actors (public and/or private). Existing governance and information system issues can then be important barriers to joining stakeholder ecosystems to a new blockchain solution.

The major stake of the Customs is therefore to select the interesting use cases in terms of service rendered and most likely to be completed.

This work on the blockchain is financed by the Transformation Fund of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance.