News analysis: Italy looking to blockchain technology to safeguard 'Made in Italy' label

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-28 20:22:03|Editor: zh
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ROME, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Italy is moving toward using blockchain -- a kind of cutting-edge crypto record-keeping technology -- to help guarantee the future of some of the country's most traditional artisan products.

Blockchain's history dates back about a decade. It uses a complex and decentralized series of records, each time stamped and linked to the previous record in the series. It is best known as the technological backbone for virtual currencies like bitcoin, but it is being used increasingly for other kinds of record keeping.

One of those, analysts told Xinhua, could be aimed at protecting "Made in Italy" products, all of which carry a mark to show they were planned, designed, manufactured, and packaged in Italy. The "Made in Italy" brand is used as a stamp of quality for some of the country's oldest and most traditional industries, ranking from artisan foodstuffs and wine to design and fashion.

The "Made in Italy" brand is considered more restrictive than similar initiatives in other countries, which allow some parts of production streams for products using the label to take place abroad. In Italy, every step of the production process has to take place on Italian territory.

"Italy has spent years making the point that a 'Made in Italy' seal is a guarantee a product was made with a high level of professionalism and quality," Pietro Azzara, an engineer and the founder of the Blockchain Forum Italia, told Xinhua.

As demand for products bearing the "Made in Italy" seal has grown, so has the practice of skirting the rules to mislabel packages for items made partially or entirely outside Italy. Employing blockchain technology will help curb that trend, Azzara and other analysts said.

"Eventually, every step in the production will be one of the 'blocks' in the 'blockchain,'" Azzara said. "Producers will use the technology to show where every element came from, and consumers will have a guarantee of the pedigree of any product that has the 'Made in Italy' mark on it."

Massimo Melica, an attorney specializing in technology issues with the Melica, Scandelin & Partners law firm, said utilizing the technology in this way will help producers as well as consumers.

"Not only will consumers know what they are getting, but the 'Made in Italy' brand will be protected from an association with products that don't meet the standards," Melica said in an interview.

Emiliano Marculi, an Italian tax agency official and frequent commentator on tax issues, said using blockchain will help put Italy -- often a laggard in the adoption of new technologies -- in the vanguard of a new technological wave.

"This is a technology that can make a difference in many areas," Marculi told Xinhua. "It can increase efficiency, help identify costs, make it harder to avoid taxes or take shortcuts in production, curb money laundering. There's a potential to do a great deal. But we have to see how it will actually be utilized."