In brief

  • European nations have banded together to launch a blockchain network.
  • Belgium is the first to launch a node. Other countries will follow in the coming weeks.
  • The network will help governments to create digital identities.

A Belgian company has set up the first node for the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure, a pan-European blockchain network, it announced on Monday.

The blockchain node, run by internet provider Belnet, went live on February 12. Another Belgian company, software firm Smals, is currently preparing the second one. Other European countries will follow in the coming weeks to build a network that comprises 30 nodes, it said. 

A blockchain is a distributed database that is built up bit by bit. Image: Shutterstock.

The EBSI is the project of the European Blockchain Partnership. It has $4.4 million in funding from the European Commission, was first conceived in 2017 and set up in 2018. It will provide reusable software, specifications and services that’ll help out EU institutions and European public administrations, according to the European Commission’s website

Last year, the European Commission selected four use cases for the project.

The first is notarisation: using blockchain for digital audit trails; to automate compliance checks quickly; and to prove the integrity of data.

The second is to log education credentials on the blockchain, “significantly reducing verification costs and improving authenticity trust.”

The third is to create digital identities, which EU citizens can use to “create and control their own identity across borders without relying on centralised authorities.”

The fourth is for secure data sharing among EU customs and tax authorities. 

These use cases were selected in 2019, and 2020’s use cases will be selected at the end of this year’s first quarter. Those use cases, whatever they may be, will go live at the start of 2021.

It should be noted that these plans have nothing to do with a digital Euro. But if the project goes well, European leaders might learn the merits of the blockchain. If it goes well, of course.

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