The IOTA Foundation is one of seven European tech companies selected from several hundreds of contenders to participate in the EU blockchain pre-commercial procurement, an initiative backed by the European Commission to develop and test blockchain solutions for the single digital market.
The First EU-Wide Blockchain Infrastructure
Twenty-nine countries (All of the EU Member States, Norway, and Lichtenstein) and the European Commission, since 2018, have joined forces to form the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP).
The European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI), established in 2019 by the European Blockchain Partnership, EBSI aims to develop a distributed ledger network across the European community to support cross-border services between governments, businesses, and individuals.
Its goals are to enhance cross-border mobility, reduce the waste of resources, enforce compliance with EU regulations, and encourage the growth of tech hubs and projects. Thanks to EBSI, verified information will flow quickly and reliably Europe-wide.
EBSI is the first EU-wide blockchain infrastructure, driven by the public sector, and fully respecting European values. The platform has been designed as a market-friendly ecosystem based on open standards and a transparent governance model.
EBSI has been designed with five fundamental principles in mind: working towards the public good, well-defined governance, data harmonization between all participants, open-source software, and compliance with relevant EU regulations, such as GDPR, and eIDAS.
Digitalization Through Blockchain
As more services move to digital platforms, there is a need to ensure that information sharing processes are trustworthy. Blockchain technology can help governments to simplify the verification processes by changing how citizens, businesses, and public administrations trust and share information with each other.
Blockchain acts as a point of truth, supporting the verification of the entities involved in the transaction and ensuring the authenticity of information without real-time access to the information source.
Cryptography uses a hash function to convert any input, such as text and images, into a fixed-length code that can be easily verified. A new ‘document’ format known as Verifiable Credentials no longer forces citizens to share their data in the document.
Instead, they can choose what they want to share in a format known as a ‘Verifiable Presentation.’ The blockchain does not keep any personal data as the Verifiable Credentials and personal information are kept in a wallet that can be used for all types of verification processes.
Blockchain technology enables citizens to control their data, secure it and effortlessly move with their credentials across Europe. Businesses can benefit from effortless interaction with government agencies, reducing friction, administrative and compliance costs.
For public administrators, blockchain means effective prevention of document falsification and fraud. It will increase trust and security and make the verification of data authenticity easy and cost-efficient.
The EBSI platform works as a peer-to-peer network of interconnected nodes. Since 2020, EBSI has deployed a distributed blockchain node network across Europe, supporting applications focused on selected use-cases. The EBSI network’s nodes will be run by the European Commission and individual member states.
Current and planned use cases include the digital management of educational credentials, establishing trusted digital audit trails in notarization, SME financing, data sharing among authorities, and European digital identity.
After the initial implementation in the EU, the technology will also have the potential to extend beyond the 27 member states.
"The EU is taking a massive step towards fulfilling its digitization goal, and we look forward to the opportunity to contribute our production-ready technology to this momentous development that will change the way trustworthy information is shared across Europe and beyond,"
said Dr. Serguei Popov, Co-Founder, and Member of the Board of Directors of the IOTA Foundation.
Technology built by the IOTA Foundation will play a significant role in creating and operating the EBSI platform.
"We are very excited about moving forward in the rigorous EBSI procurement process, and we feel great about our chances to play a central role in bringing distributed ledger technology to European administrations,"
said Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder and Chairman of the IOTA Foundation.
The non-profit IOTA Foundation aims to build a new digital economy by redefining how people and devices connect to share information and value around crypto technologies. The Foundation highlights trust and transparency in managing blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) by creating a standardized and open-source technology.
The Foundation supports the research and development of new distributed ledger technologies (DLT), and encourages the education and adoption of DLT through creating ecosystems and the standardization of these new protocols.
IOTA changed the heavily traditional blockchain design and developed a new technological platform called Tangle. Tangle is a distributed ledger technology specifically designed to run in an IoT environment.
Tangle moves beyond blockchain by providing the world’s first scalable, feeless, and fully decentralized distributed ledger technology. The technology solves three fundamental problems of blockchain: high fees, scaling, and centralization.
It is an open-source protocol connecting the human economy with the machine economy by facilitating novel machine-to-machine interactions, including secure data transfer, feeless micropayments, and secure access control for devices.
"EBSI is an excellent fit, both technologically and ideologically. We do not need to adopt an existing blockchain or start developing a new solution that fits EBSI's needs. Our core technology already offers a near-perfect match to the strict requirements and precise specifications for a European ledger infrastructure, and it is ready for widespread adoption with only minimal adjustment,"
Towards a New Digital Economy
The IOTA Foundation is well-positioned to enable EBSI’s vision of ledger-based secure transactions for an EU digital single market. IOTA’s technology fits EBSI’s goals of being scalable, open, decentralized, and interoperable.
It is permissionless by nature, but can grant permission to some resources and control data distribution to ensure EU data-sharing compliance. It also supports high throughput and a large number of nodes.
Within the Commission’s pre-commercial procurement process, the Foundation will be advancing the development of the core IOTA protocol to meet the specific requirements for the EBSI infrastructure.
Amongst other things, this will include a novel sharding framework based on ISCP to enable Europe-wide scalability. It will build out specific use cases to test performance and validate use in cross-border services.
In addition, IOTA’s feeless nature makes micropayments possible and opens up the network to a broader potential audience. Anyone can afford to use it, whereas the cost of transactions on other blockchains makes notarizing small information exchanges, such as the cost of stamping a single document, prohibitive. IOTA is also energy-efficient and complements the ‘European Green Deal,’ the EU’s overarching aim of making Europe carbon-neutral by 2050.
"EBSI is a project that is entirely in tune with the IOTA philosophy and vision, and progressing through the strenuous procurement process has been an exciting and rewarding experience. The notion of an open-access, scalable, and versatile distributed ledger technology that will form the backbone of Europe's digital single market is a natural fit to our own guiding principles,"
said Dr. Navin Ramachandran, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the IOTA Foundation.
On The Flipside
- In the private sector, blockchain has demonstrated disruptive potential through proven use cases. However, despite solid interest and greater awareness, blockchain has still had minimal impact on the public sector as few projects have moved beyond small pilots.
- There is growing skepticism and cynicism in regards to public sector blockchain. Although blockchain has yet to affect government operations in the way that early hype predicted, government decision-makers will nonetheless need to understand and closely monitor this emerging technology.
Why You Should Care?
EBSI is the first EU-wide blockchain infrastructure, driven by the public sector, fully respecting European values and regulations. The usage of blockchain in a public sector of such a significant economic area might further push the mass adoption of blockchain technology.