Nineteen French players have just created a consortium to launch a sovereign blockchain. The France Blockchain Alliance (o ABF) brings together IT specialists such as OBS, Docaposte, Atos, public organizations such as the University of Lille or companies such as Suez.
In concrete terms, the actors of the Alliance will deploy and manage the nodes of the infrastructure of this future blockchain which will then open “gradually to all industrialists and all French administrations”, insists the launch press release.
A sovereign blockchain modeled on Spanish Alastria
The initiative for a “sovereign” national blockchain is not the first. Eight European countries have implemented blockchains that are already operational, such as Alastria in Spain (blockchain used in France by AgDatahub, also a founding member of the Alliance) or ID Union in Germany.
With more than 200 nodes hosted by companies and 600 participants, Alastria is the most advanced project in this field. Switzerland, Finland, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands also have such blockchains.
Around the world, Asia has been at the forefront of the matter, points out Antoine Maisonneuve, director of the blockchain program at Orange Business Services and president of the Alliance for the first year. The South Korean national blockchain, for example, is used to certify “driver’s licenses, diplomas, insurance documents, etc. “, Illustrates him.
ABF will have the particularity – like Alastria and other blockchains in European countries – of being public, open to any legal person, but with a registration fee.
“This implies that we are identified on the blockchain as a legal person and a legal person,” Antoine Maisonneuve recently explained to MagIT, speaking of the Spanish project. The actors that make it up and use it are therefore “trusted actors”.
“But do they trust each other? », Asks the OBS manager to justify the interest in a blockchain which, by definition, is of interest only between actors who do not trust each other.
The ABF blockchain has other interests than a classic public blockchain or a consortium blockchain (such as IBM Food Trust): general uses, governance control, environmental impact control (therefore no Proof of Work) and no transaction costs. “We can do a five-year business plan”, boasts Antoine Maisonneuve. And finally, all data remains in France.
The first use cases of ABF should involve identity management and intellectual property (with NFTs).
ABF, complement of the European EBSI blockchain
The ABF blockchain and its national alter egos complete another European blockchain project. The European Commission is in fact working in parallel on a transnational blockchain, the EBSI (European Blockchain Services Infrastructure).
“It’s a blockchain for parapublic use. It is a network of evidence of exchanges between different European countries ”, explains Antoine Maisonneuve to differentiate it from national blockchains, which also target private actors.
The EBSI is intended, for example, to certify all European diplomas or the European social security number.
“Each country will choose to host EBSI nodes under public responsibility,” he adds. While in the French blockchain, it is OBS and the other consortium members who will host the nodes.
OBS participates in the EBSI project, but as a supplier of tools to simplify, improve performance, optimize carbon footprint, industrialize and accelerate node implementation [dont] the Blockchain as a service ”, Antoine Maisonneuve lists. These tools will be at the service of the European Commission and the States, which will therefore retain responsibility for the nodes.
Today, EBSI has around thirty knots. A number destined to grow rapidly, hence the need for a toolkit to industrialize it.
Several blockchains under the hood
Technically, all of these projects have in common that they are not confined to a single technology.
EBSI for example has two networks (Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Besu) and would study IOTA. Alastria is built on the same two Hyperledger blockchains, as is Quorum.
“The goal is to have different types of blockchains to serve different use cases”, explains Antoine Maisonneuve, “The fabric is generally very industrial, and Besu more for general use, such as the certification of identity documents for example”.
“On the other hand, they share the same level of identity and authentication, which makes some interoperability possible. The same company will be able to use both blockchains and will be identified in the same way on both “.
The ABF has not yet formalized its technological choice, but it will be inspired by these projects and their characteristics.