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Blockchain-based system for subscription payments in circular economy model

TitleBlockchain-based system for subscription payments in circular economy model
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsManco-Sanchez, A, Navarro, L
Date Published07/2021
AbstractWith the increased awareness on global warming, and the need for a change of paradigm in both pro- duction and consumption of electronic equipment, the need arises to find long-term sustainable ways to make a responsible use of the raw materials and other components used in IT systems. The amount of re- sources required to manufacture the devices we use on a daily basis, together with the high market demand for them result in an exploitation of the natural resources, that are becoming increasingly scarcer. The extraction of said materials from the planet threatens the environment, and raises the question of how long we can sustain the current paradigm of equipment production. Aside from the collection of raw materials, the actual manufacturing process results in the emission of not only greenhouse gases, but also dangerous substances that end up poured in rivers and the sea. Extending the lifespan of electronic devices through reuse helps to mitigate the impact of the manufacturing phase. Beyond the ecology dimension, there is the social need to bridge the gap caused by purchasing power, and ease the access to IT equipment for everyone. The ability to acquire and use electronic devices has become almost compulsory for both individuals and societies, and not being able to access such equipment leaves people in all sorts of disadvantages. This phenomena can be seen in poor countries, where the purchasing power of the vast majority of people makes it unfeasible to invest in any sort of electronic equipment. Additionally, the lack of education on how to use these devices, or the misinformation as to how useful they are, are examples of situations that make the gap between users and non-users larger, even on rich countries. As a last dimension, there is the economical need to make the electronic reuse market more transparent and accountable. Countries and organisations find that illegally dumping their electronic waste is more cost efficient than sending them through a regulated process. For the previous reasons, a regulated and transparent way of processing electronic waste would contribute to a more legal flow of money and in- terests, and may inspire organisations to engage on the business, and contribute to a more efficient and trustworthy way of recycling our devices. This project aims to offer a model of infrastructure that allows a number of central organisations to enforce rules over a set of stakeholders, as well as the means to achieve a direct-debit-like decentralised payment architecture, that would enable individuals and organisations to be part of a electronic reuse system, and receive economic incentives and compensation for their participation. In such a system, a number of medi- ator entities would be in charge of linking providers of services to subscribers, that consume said services. Thanks to an automated payment system, subscribers could use a mediator entity as a bank, where they make a token deposit for the providers to collect. By using a private blockchain, the internal currency transfers are logged, resulting in an immutable register of activity. To analyse and evaluate that such a system would be technologically feasible for the different potential use cases, and that the economical model could indeed help in the aforementioned context, a set of experi- ments and prototypes were conducted and developed, so the scalability and performance of the architecture could be assessed, and the correct integration of the different modules proved. The system was stressed at different levels, aiming to observe how the system performed under a growing demand. The model proposed showed that the modules were able to coexist and interact successfully, with no major conflict points across the architecture, and was general enough so it could be adapted and extended further. Regarding the performance experiments, the results showed a remarkably good performance up to a cer- tain load, with a non-negligible decreasing trend in performance as the stress levels increased. The whole proposal posed itself as a promising template to build systems featuring both a decentralised ledger, and a number of central authorities, although the blockchain module presented some problems regarding consis- tency, availability and performance in certain scenarios. When working at stress levels below the threshold observed in the experiments, the system performs correctly, but beyond that point, the uncertainty as to how the system will operate grows. Undesirable behaviours start appearing, and the overall performance starts to decrease, making the system unable of guaranteeing the availability of the service. Awareness of these limitations allows keeping the system under correct operational bounds.