Blockchain technology for managing migration into the EU

Blockchain technology for managing migration into the EU

Technology is being utilised in various ways to facilitate the management of immigration. For instance, technology has been used to assist integrate migrants as well as processing their status on arrival. Nevertheless, the use of technology to enhance the management of migration must be ethically to ensure that migrants’ rights are respected.

One of such technology growing in usage is Blockchain. According to a survey conducted by the Swiss Agency for Development[1] and Cooperation (SDC), the Blockchain technology is one of a number of technologies proving to have positive influences on the management of migration. Blockchain is an inventive and promising technology, which records information in a way that makes it difficult to hack or change. The technology captures transactions data including date, time, money. The technology can also provide information about the person making the transactions as well as the “hashes” of the unique name of each block in order to be identified among the crowd of blocks.

The World Bank has reported that over a billion people, including refugees, homeless people and trafficked children are being missed by governmental and well as non-governmental institutions, making it harder for them to be identified later. However, using the Blockchain technology, institutions are able to focus on the interoperability of blockchain and biometric data in order to create an ‘identity market’. The ID2020 Digital Identity Alliance [2] platform was initiated in 2017 and is still developing its capabilities. This platform was established to create legal digital identities that are:

  • Private: Each individual control what data is sharing and who will be the receiver.
  • Portable: Each individual could have access anywhere.
  • Persistent: Lifelong to the time duration
  • Personal: The access is given after the end-user’s consent

Looking ahead, similar applications involving the combination of Blockchain and biometrics data could be used in other cases where proof of legal identity is also important, for instance in asylum applications and migrant integration processes.

The potential significance of the Blockchain technology being widely accepted is evident in the technology being discussed at the highest levels of transnational collaborations. For example, the European Union set up a taskforce to consider the potential use of the technology in identifying migrants within their borders. For the World Food Programme (WFP), they have already piloted the use of the technology in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. WFP replaced smartcards with Blockchain technology which captures the financial activities of users. The history of transactions is held on the system. The hope is that by capturing this data for migrants Blockchain could enable each migrant to have a comprehensive financial history as they journey across borders as well as being able to use the history to enhance their capacity to self-identify.

The Blockchain technology proposes a novel way of collecting relevant biometric data on migrants to facilitate the smooth management of migration across the EU. Increasing the use of the technology could potentially improve the identification of migrants coming into the EU, making it easy for them to be integrated and supported throughout their migration journey.