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What blockchain can do for government


21 Oct, 2016 03:46 pm

While the private sector is already grappling with the opportunity presented by this rapidly emerging technology, European governments are still slow to embrace its potential.
On one level, cryptocurrencies have the ability to create alternative value transfer mechanisms, which support the localisation of services and promote sharing economies, whilst at another level blockchain technology itself can create new services and reduce the need for traditional, centralised, high-power processing platforms.


Government will need to understand how blockchain can extract value from technologies such as big data and the Internet of Things.

The key to the growing interest in blockchain technology is its use of complex and immutable cryptography that proves resistant to hacking. This opens up a range of possible new applications and more open government.

- The Isle of Man is currently working on government initiatives to store information and make contracts using blockchain applications. One of the initial projects involves the Department of Economic Development in the Crown dependency using a blockchain registry as a record of which companies on the Isle of Man actively use cryptocurrencies. 

- There is a blockchain-as-a-service offering available to public sector organisations through the GDS Digital Marketplace on G-Cloud 8. The platform is offered by Credits, a startup formed in 2014. Capgemini also has a public sector blockchain consultancy offer on G-Cloud. These services together offer a range of blockchain services to UK public sector bodies including health, local government and education.

- In Singapore, the government is looking to blockchain to stop traders from defrauding banks. Fraudulent companies used duplicate invoices for the same goods to obtain millions of dollars from banks. This has led the Singapore government to develop a system with local banks focused on preventing invoice fraud by using blockchain to create a unique cryptographic hash (a unique fingerprint) for every invoice.

- An e-residency program has been established in Estonia to allow anyone worldwide to apply to become an e-resident of Estonia to set up a business, for example. Residents obtain a digital ID card with a cryptographic key to securely sign digital documents, removing the need for ink signatures on government forms. Full Estonian citizens can vote and see what data is held by government about them, who has accessed it and why. It's one of the few countries today where citizens' trust in government has been increasing.
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