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Blockchain could vastly improve how goods move through customs at the border

Researchers say the technology can provide tighter security when it comes to processing international goods

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Photo (c) robertiez - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Houston cite blockchain as a technological advancement that could greatly improve the way international goods are processed and tracked through customs. 

The researchers found that utilizing blockchain could tighten up security measures when it comes to goods passing through international borders. The reason for that is the technology links data through cryptography and supposedly makes it impossible to change or alter information.

“The wide adoption of blockchain technology in the global SC (supply chain) market is still in its infancy,” explained the researchers. “Industry experts project that on average, it may take about six years for the widespread adoption of blockchain.” 

Improving security measures

As blockchain gains popularity around the world, the researchers note that though there could be some potential roadblocks in instituting the technology on a global level. They are prepared for the pushback that could arise and see the pros greatly outweighing the cons in the future. 

One of the biggest pros is the way blockchain could improve security, as adopting the technology eliminates any opportunities for mishandling data. 

“The data can’t be changed,” said researcher Weidong “Larry” Shi. “Everyone (along the supply chain) has a copy. You can add information, but you can’t change it.” 

Moreover, the researchers explained that blockchain would ensure that all goods are properly accounted for and delivered to the appropriate recipients, ultimately streamlining the tracking process of all international products. 

“It could move items through customs more quickly, and it would allow customs to focus its resources on the minority of cargo that needs closer scrutiny,” Shi said. 

Gaining awareness

Blockchain does come with some drawbacks, as the researchers noted all parties involved would need to be transparent about their data and share information with both competing corporations and government officials. 

However, the researchers do think the projected improvements following the adoption of blockchain will be more beneficial overall. They are continuing their work with interested parties to ensure the safety and security of international goods. 

“Three years ago, people didn’t know what blockchain was,” said Shi. “They thought it was bitcoin. Now they understand that it’s a technology.” 

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