The difficult implementation of blockchains

The wave of the keyword “blockchain”, or chain of blocks, raised many stocks on the stock market last fall. Now dissipated, the wave has given way to a series of pilot projects that seek to leverage this technology to transform several industries. A look at the first days of an announced revolution.

Posted May 17, 2018

It has been touted as a disruptive technology, but for now, blockchain technology is still slow to make its way into our economy.

It won’t be long, however, according to Louis Roy, certification partner and leader in blockchain technology at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT). “A race to watch has begun,” he said. In my opinion, it will unfold over the next two years. »

Blockchain is intended as a decentralized transaction ledger. The information encrypted in a block is found at the same time in several places, making its falsification impossible.

The data is stored very securely in addition to being immutable and anchored in time. – Louis Roy, Assurance Partner and Blockchain Technology Leader at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Such a register allows exchanges without the use of an intermediary, such as a bank, an accountant or a notary. Banking institutions were also among the first to take an interest in it, according to Louis Roy. “Some of the projects are just looking to make internal management gains,” he says. In other cases, pilot projects are carried out in groups. »

According to him, technology is likely to transform several sectors, starting with that of his own employer. The insurance, real estate or copyright management sectors, for example, should also be affected.


OPTEL is one of the companies currently running a blockchain-based pilot project. In his case, the technology serves as a secure database for tracking pharmaceutical products. An approach that could notably facilitate the recall of drugs.

“Like any technology that is in its infancy, there are good and bad sides,” says Louis Roy, president and founder of OPTEL, who, like his namesake at RCGT, has acquired an interest in the blocks.

It must be said that his company, which specializes in the optimization of supply chains, has every interest in taking an interest in the phenomenon. The food and pharmaceutical product traceability niches are among those where the blockchain could also find its place.

But for OPTEL, it is above all the analysis of the data that matters. The company stores its data in the “cloud”, then analyzes it in order to optimize exchanges between partners in a supply chain. “The blockchain only makes it possible to secure information and not to analyze it,” explains the founder of the Quebec company. And every time we consult the blockchain, we slow down the speed at which we analyze the data. »

According to him, sectors at high risk of fraud will certainly benefit from technology, in particular that of monitoring transactions in precious metals such as gold. “This is a sector where there is a real need for traceability, he says, to avoid, for example, encouraging producers who exploit children. »

“On the other hand, I have doubts that it is useful for the traceability of bananas”, he adds.

His skepticism also extends to the side of the drug. In addition to slowing down data analysis, blockchain has two additional drawbacks, he says. “It’s difficult to manage who is authorized to access the data,” he says.

The presence of hundreds of different blockchain ledgers is another barrier, he said.

Optel in brief

Year of foundation: 1989

Headquarters: Quebec

Number of employees: 850, including 550 in Quebec

Niche: supply chain management in the pharmaceutical, food and gold sectors.

The difficult implementation of blockchains

PHOTO Jean-Marie Villeneuve, THE SUN

Louis Roy, president and founder of OPTEL.

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The difficult implementation of blockchains

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