DigiChambers is the online application with which the Belgian Chambers of Commerce issue non-preferential certificates of origin on behalf of the FPS Economy. A certificate of origin confirms the place where the goods were produced and is requested upon import by the customs authorities of e.g. Russia, Turkey and the Gulf countries. In a globalized economy where production chains extend over several countries, determining the exact origin of a product is not always an easy task. However, chambers of commerce work closely with companies and know their production processes, which puts them in a good position to verify this origin. This is why, in most countries, the government has entrusted the issuing of certificates of origin to chambers of commerce. This is also the case in Belgium, where the chambers issue more than 400,000 certificates per year.
The first version of DigiChambers dates from 2009. At that time, the Belgian chambers were a forerunner in the history of digitization and were supported in this by the FPS Economy and recognized by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). DigiChambers has always succeeded in maintaining its leading position by constantly adding new functionalities and integrating with companies’ ERP systems. “However, it is not possible to modify an existing application indefinitely, which is why the time had come for a thorough overhaul of DigiChambers. We spent the necessary time, discussed with all parties involved and were guided by Deloitte in determining the requirements of DigiChambers 2.0 and in choosing the developer,” says Wouter Van Gulck, General Manager of the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce, which coordinates the issuing of certificates of origin by the chambers and manages DigiChambers.
For the development of the new version of DigiChambers, D Soft, a software company based in Merelbeke, specialised in document management software and developer of the first version of DigiChambers, was again called upon. “The new version of DigiChambers is more intuitive and user-friendly,” says Christophe Coulie of the Federation, who closely followed the entire development process. “With a good API, we still want to facilitate communication with our customers’ systems and we have also designed DigiChambers in such a way that new technologies such as Blockchain can be integrated.”
DigiChambers is used every month by more than 1,800 companies. This represents almost 90% of the certificates of origin. The use of DigiChambers is voluntary for companies, but the ambition is indeed to move towards full digitisation.