Canadian Uni and Airbus employee claim procurement advance

September 25, 2018
Chris Wheal

The Ontario-based University of Waterloo plus an Airbus collaborator in Germany claims a new blockchain tool – Strain – could make procurement of goods and services safer.

Both Erik-Oliver Blass at Airbus and Florian Kerschbaum, a Canadian computer science professor, claim their new protocol allows for more secure bidding on contracts with companies, “so that the online auction is more difficult to hack or manipulate than conventional methods”.

Safer and more responsible auctions with blockchain?

Speed + transparency issues

Some of the current procurement frustration is speed: a blockchain message exchange can take up to an hour to correctly settle for consistency and also to handle competing lines, they say.

“While blockchain can provide a strong audit trail, it is slow and generally shares too much information,” said Kerschbaum, a computer science professor and director of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at the University of Waterloo.

“The goal is to have something which is traceable, cannot be tampered with in any way, and is confidential except for absolutely necessary information that needs to be revealed.”

Strain gains from Airbus input

Ukraine adoption?

Ukraine is an example of a country that is using blockchain technology to hold auctions in a way that addresses nepotism and corruption concerns says Kerschbaum.

“Strain protects the confidentiality of the bid against malicious parties using zero-knowledge proofs.”

This means that it reveals only that the computation is complete, but not the inputs or computational steps adds Kerschbaum. “It even offers an extension that would allow a vendor to participate in two auctions without revealing that they are the same bidder.”

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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