Blockchain standard  © Funtap P
© Funtap P

An alliance of logistics professionals has formulated a global blockchain standard, amid increasing calls for regulatory alignment.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (Bita) Standards Council announced yesterday it had approved the first official standard and first framework for blockchain use in logistics.

The BiTA Standard 120-2019 Location Component Specification is Bita’s first data format specification, launched alongside The Tracking Data Framework Profile, developed to provide a roadmap for future data component development.

Chief executive of Omnichain Solutions Pratik Soni said: “The data standards published provide the initial framework for interoperability across a currently fragmented and siloed ecosystem that reaches across many different enterprises, systems and protocols.”

While there has been much talk about the potential of blockchain, until now there has been no consensus on the framework on which associated applications could be built.

According to Bita, this absence of data standards renders the ecosystem “chaotic”, and has led to a rise of proprietary blockchain networks that “contradict the initial purpose of the application”.

Executive committee member of Bita, and VP of strategic analytics at Echo Global Logistics, Scott Friesen described the move as a “great accomplishment”.

“New technology can move at such high speed, and excitement about new technology even faster, but to produce standards and the long-term efficiencies they will produce is more like legislation than writing code,” he said.

“To get this first set of standards out with unanimous support in under a year is a great accomplishment. We look forward to growing, enhancing and supporting the available standards to support the supply chain and blockchain development communities.”

One airport executive raised the topic at an FTA air freight round table last week, saying blockchain was a “lovely word”, but for it to become an operational reality, it required “someone at the tiller”.

“We do not see anyone at a government level taking this on, so we are happy to take point on getting an effective system in place,” said the airport executive.

“But for that to happen, we need customs authorities to play some part, namely in accepting the information they are given. Furthermore, we need governments to get together and set a digital roadmap that sets standards, a process which private enterprise has been historically no good at.”

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