“Tomorrow, the biggest blockchain users in France will be farmers”

Antoine Maisonneuve is director of the blockchain program at Orange Business Services, the business services subsidiary of the Orange group, where about fifteen people are dedicated to bblock chain. He is also president of the Alliance Blockchain France, an association that brings together companies and universities, of which mission to implement a common and sovereign blockchain infrastructure. He explains what this project is all about and describes in detail his first use case in the agricultural field.

L’Usine Digitale: What is the goal of the Alliance Blockchain France, which you are chairing for your first year?

Antonino Maisonneuve: Initially, OBS wanted to create its own Orange blockchain for its customers: a blockchain whose identity, thanks to a digital identity wallet, would be a foundation of trust. But it quickly became clear that this didn’t make sense because the stakes go far beyond Orange.

The Alliance was launched with the aim of creating an interoperable identity layer, to make it much easier to manage. For this, it is necessary to create a common base that can accommodate many use cases. Our goal is to develop wallets that can be used by companies and the general public, much simpler than what exists in cryptocurrencies, to transact between wallets and no longer between IP addresses. The first use case is that of agricultural data, with Agriconsent.

Why use a blockchain?

For reasons of security and technological simplicity regarding peer-to-peer connections. The more actors interact with the platform, the more interesting the blockchain is for the management of P2P exchanges.

And why not use a public blockchain?

Why don’t we check its governance. We do not take the risk, like Orange, of exposing our clients to blockchains whose governance and sustainability we do not control. We want an infrastructure whose governance is compatible with our customers’ challenges. The subtlety is that we are on a public blockchain philosophy: everyone can come and connect. It is open to all companies operating in France.

We also build on existing blockchain foundations, which we are selecting. In Europe, many are already used in national networks such as Hyperledger Besu, Iota, Hyperledger Fabric and there are also French technologies such as Tezos. Meanwhile, we use the Spanish sovereign blockchain for our experiments.

What is the Agriconsent project?

We worked on the agricultural data consensus. It should be noted that large agricultural mechanics, whose machines are equipped with sensors, have access to enormous amounts of information. They know everything that is collected around the planet. AgriConsent aims to protect these agricultural data, which farmers today do not have the choice to accept or not to share, and with whom. The project consists of two parts: the data exchange platform and the part relating to consent.

OBS’s work specifically concerns the digital identity to which such consent can be attached. The blockchain acts here as a trusted third party at the level of the agricultural ecosystem. We start pilot production in October. The Agdatahub platform will be implemented in early 2023. The project is entirely in the spirit of the Data Governance Act, the GDPR for companies, which will be applicable in 2023.

How will it work?

The wallet is a mobile application for natural persons, linked to a cloud wallet for legal persons. We use this application to connect to Agriconsent via a France Connect account. The digital identity thus created attests your civil and professional identity, certifies that you are a legitimate beneficiary. Therefore the platform allows to generate contracts, according to the farmers’ choices. A company that wants to access a farmer’s data goes through the platform and everything is managed automatically, in P2P. Remuneration can for example be defined. Tomorrow, the biggest blockchain users in France will be farmers!

What are the prospects for such a project?

We will find this use case in all industries that have this data management problem. The media and tourism offices, for example, who use photos and need to know who the author is to avoid intellectual property disputes; or transport, where this platform could allow deliveries to connect with couriers to manage the traceability of a package.

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