Bringing EU audit into the blockchain world with the ECA Registry
For the past months, the Compellio team has been working with the European Court of Auditors (ECA) to implement the “ECA Registry”, a novel platform that will enable ECA to utilise public blockchains in order to apply audit-by-design and induce transparency towards businesses, end-beneficiaries, institutions, and EU citizens.
Note: The ECA Registry was brought into life using the Compellio Registry, our new digital platform that provides a secure, GDPR-ready middleware connecting existing IT systems and public blockchains without the need for tokens, ICOs, crypto-wallets or smart contract development.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view or any endorsement by the European Court of Auditors.
Set up phase
During the first stage of this collaboration, we focused on analysing the value drivers, describing the requirements and identifying meaningful use cases to implement blockchain in the field of audit.
Value drivers for ECA
- Reduce admin burden
- Mitigate coordination costs
- Free up time for auditors to focus on their added-value work
- Induce transparency towards businesses, end-beneficiaries, and EU citizens
- Build technical capacity and practical know-how in order to
- Collaborate with other international and EU institutions in accelerating early-adoption of this innovative technology
Requirements by ECA
- Obtain quick results
- Show concrete use cases in the audit field
- Develop a web-based service with an intuitive interface
- Rely on public, permissionless blockchains
- Ensure interoperability between public blockhains and ECA’s internal IT infrastructure
By forming a multi-disciplinary working group inside ECA, we managed to quickly identify, assess and analyse use cases where blockchain could have a meaningful impact. The 5 use cases that were shortlisted were the following:
1) Audit on EU-funded trainings
2) Audit in the domain of agriculture (wine promotion)
3) Public procurement at EU institutions
4) Procurement at EU beneficiaries
5) Protection of ECA publications
Being accustomed to working with high-speed-loving innovators, we were positively surprised by how fast the project advanced inside a supposedly “conservative” institution like the European Court of Auditors.
During the period of 3 months we were able to design, test and roll the ECA Registry into production.
The ECA Registry
The ECA Registry allows users to register imprints of digital files on public blockchains, verify their authenticity and create a secure audit trail.
- It acts as a notarisation service
- It keeps the link between imprints of files and their metadata
- Files and metadata are kept off-chain in a private storage; only imprints are recorded on-chain
- It allows for bi-directional exchange of imprints with third parties in a GDPR compliant way
A detailed overview of the ECA Registry can be found in the following Youtube video by ECA:
Key considerations on the current state of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies
- Keyword “blockchain” losing ground in Google Trends
- More and more organisations adding “blockchain” to their name in order to capitalise on the hype
- ICO fundraising surging in 2018
- Blockchain-based services evolving with speed in developing countries and inside organisations with an impact/SDGs orientation
When we move past the cryptocurrencies and service/asset tokenisation to focus on areas where blockchain can have a company-wide impact on organisational performance and operations, there are some issues that require a more sensible consideration of the promises of this technology and its growth potential from early adopters to the mass market.
We tried to put few of those considerations in the bullets below:
- Immutability and governance in public vs private DLTs
- Scalability and sustainability of fully on-chain systems
- Reverse usability mentality (i.e. finding problems for the solution vs finding solutions to the problem)
- Interoperability (i.e. how to use blockchain without obliterating existing IT infrastructures and investments?)
- Highly technical interfaces and complex user experiences
- Lack of specialised human resources
What are the main challenges that you see in taking blockchain into the next stage?
We’d be delighted to read your opinions in the comments space below.
Learn more about the Compellio Registry here or contact us at email@example.com to request more info about our services.