WCO Sec. Gen.: Blockchain can help Customs combat financial crimes more effectively (Exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 27

By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:

Blockchain can help Customs combat financial crimes more effectively, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Kunio Mikuriya said in an interview with Azernews, Trend reports.

“The WCO has initiated work to identify possible case studies and uses of blockchain for Customs and other border agencies with a view to improving compliance, trade facilitation, and fraud detection (including curbing illicit trade). The WCO published a research paper in 2018 to addressing means in which Customs could leverage the power of blockchain and the extent to which the future of Customs could be shaped by the use of blockchain-based applications. One conclusion reached is that Customs would be able to have a broader and clearer picture of international trade, particularly in terms of the movement of cargoes and consignments being linked with the flow of capital. With blockchain-based applications, therefore, Customs could become a fully-fledged border regulator with greater capabilities in the future,” said the secretary general.

Mikuriya believes that with the use of blockchain technologies customs will become more data-driven. “Through its participation in blockchains, Customs would be able to collect the necessary data in an accurate and timely way (all data tied to the commodity such as seller, buyer, price, quantity, carrier, finance, insurance, status and location of the commodity, etc.).”

Customs may become part of the blockchain and become more embedded within trade processes, he said.

WCO secretary general pointed out that data conveyed by the blockchain could be integrated automatically into Customs systems and checked against the data submitted by traders and transporters. In a more integrated version, Customs could even automatically clear the goods within the blockchain itself, he added.

“Blockchain could enhance revenue compliance and cooperation between tax and Customs. If Customs has automated access to data lodged in export countries’ systems, this will encourage revenue compliance in import countries. This will help Customs with issues around valuation and transfer pricing and underpin further cooperation between tax and Customs authorities. Blockchain can help Customs combat financial crimes more effectively. Customs and relevant authorities would be updated regularly on events occurring within the banking system that could be misused to conceal illicit financial flows. The iterative comparison between trade data submitted by operators and a capital transfer recorded by financial institutions would lead to a greater probability of detecting financial crimes. Blockchain technology represents a step forward for Customs as it offers several opportunities, ranging from collecting accurate data to automatically detecting fraud and collecting taxes and duties,” said Mikuriya.

He noted that based on these perspectives, the WCO will continue with ongoing efforts to explore the potential of blockchain, as well as the associated legal and technical constraints.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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