Since the pioneering of Blockchain by the creator of the digital currency Bitcoin, the technology has gained a lot of traction. The implementation of Blockchain has found itself moving quickly past crypto-currencies and into an increased amount of companies and organisations. Some are doubtful how well Bitcoin will sustain in the future, but most technology experts agree that Blockchain definitely has a future. Around the World, Blockchain is being developed for use in a diverse range of ways that include allowing companies to, for example; clamp down on counterfeit goods in China, helping to keep cloud data safer than ever within cloud-based setups, and even making changes in various Governments in how they record, store and share sensitive data.
In fact, Governments across the World are investing an increasing amount of both time and money into Blockchain technology. According to a study carried out by IBM in 2017, by 2018 there will be nine out of ten Governments investing in the research, innovation and adoption of the Blockchain. This is a change of opinion by the majority of Governments who previously viewed the technology sceptically, largely due to worries about its connections with Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. Now Governments, however, are won over by the potential of Blockchain and are keen to explore ways in which they can apply it to their current processes.
International Blockchain Projects
The South Korean Government plans to invest $9 Million in Blockchain development up until the end of 2019. Their plans include wanting to collaborate with various other Governments to carry out Blockchain pilots within the public sector, where work will primarily focus on customs clearance, real estate transactions, online voting and cross-border e-document distribution alongside other areas. The primary objective is to use a distributed network to improve information sharing efficiency and transparency within their public services.
The Dutch Government (the Netherlands have become one of the most welcoming to crypto-currencies) have been exploring the use of Blockchain in various fields including collaborating with a FinTech startup called Blockchain Pilots who help institutions to test Blockchain projects. As of the end of 2017, this Government were testing more than 30 projects across areas that include tax, logistics, identity and autonomous vehicles. Amsterdam is working on offering its citizens a more efficient and simple way to apply for a personal healthcare budget using Blockchain, as well as trying to create a clear overview of authorisations within the health care process. Rotterdam is developing a Blockchain process to collect tourist taxes more efficiently, and Eindhoven is developing a case for using Blockchain to speed up the process of land parcel transfers.
The city of Moscow actually has its own voting platform, which will be the first city to implement an e-voting Blockchain based system. Each vote in its platform will form a smart contract that will be publicly viewable and transparent, and the voting process, as a result, will be secure, strongly reducing the chance of third-party interference or fraud in general.
Using Blockchain within the voting process really could shake up a system which is plagued by issues such as low turnout and of course the mentioned problems with fraud. It can open up the dawn of online voting as an alternative to the paper ballot, or electronic voting machine methods we have been accustomed to. By offering these other voting methods there is a very likely chance the number of voters would increase (something which is a pressing concern for Governments around the World) as online votes would be more convenient for many, and offering an extra format is likely to increase the amount of active users for a variety of reasons. There is an argument too that online voting may even be able to address the issues of election security and integrity. Some experts believe that Blockchain could lead to Internet voting as a Worldwide process.
The active systems in which Governments see potential to improve through Blockchain use is likely to continue to a great degree as the widespread use of the technology becomes more commonplace within society. Blockchain represents the chance for Governments to be able to modernise their systems, improving efficiency as well as security and allowing the process’ to be far more transparent then the currently implemented methods allow. It is no secret that many citizens do not trust every aspect of Government activity, and in fairness, various Governments have shown to be corrupt throughout history, so a loss of trust is not all that surprising. But if Governments want to rebuild their image and win back that trust, the implementation of Blockchain could go some way to reaching that notion. In theory, it could help enhance their credibility as due to Blockchains transparency the degrees of trust required from citizen to Government (and vice-versa) is minimised. Citizens would be able to openly view Governmental activities as much as the Government can view their own activities within the area they were operating a Blockchain led system. Imagine a ‘common transparent future’, where all data recorded on a person was open and there was no possibility for it to be intercepted, altered or hidden-a powerful thought I’m sure you would agree.
Public benefits, healthcare, education and Governmental capabilities are areas that Blockchain has the power to improve and evolve. However, the high-impact potential of Blockchain does not stop with the Government, though. No, there are ways in which it could help change the landscape of the World as we know it, including helping to bridge the gap between the rich and poorer countries.
A huge positive is that Blockchain is incorruptible, completely transparent and bypasses any form of censorship. Broken down, Blockchain is a virtual public ledger that records everything in a secure and transparent fashion, a key reason it stands to hold positive change within societies. The technology of this kind would help tackle issues of corruption within Governments as much as the individual, company or other organisation, be it financial or otherwise-so yes it could represent large social change.
Positive Financial Avenues
How can positive financial avenues be created for the World’s poorest through Blockchain? Well, take the example of its role in the refugee crisis. This year, the UNWFP sent over 10,000 Syrian refugees crypto-currency based vouchers, helping thousands of refugees to use crypto-currency to purchase food. The key thing is that Blockchain can be used as a bank-like institution for those without bank accounts, the situation for many. As long as one has access to some form of smart phone, the money can be accessed through this method. Another additional benefit of crypto-currency comes to those needing to send money to another country-there are no charges like a typical traditional method would involve, saving that cost for migrants, immigrants and refugees needing to send money back to their families. This will especially have an impact on Africa, the country where transactions of this kind are the most expensive in the World if not made through crypto-currency.
Then it is also worth looking into the aspects of wealth within poorer areas of the World by seeing how Blockchain can help with business. After all, if a business is doing well, and they are able to hire more workers then that will contribute positively to the communities. One way in which workloads can be improved is through supply chain management. Blockchain technology has the benefits of traceability and indeed cost-effectiveness as it can be used to track the full movement of goods, their origins, quantity and other key attributes. The process simplifies ownership transfer, production, assurance and of course payments. Once again the use of Blockchain would improve transparency within an existing system, and as a result help business’ that rely on supply chain management to streamline and strengthen their workloads.
Blockchain must be one of the most hyped technologies up for discussion in a long time. And of course, it can not be seen as a solution to fix every single data-led system for an individual, company or organisation. But hopefully as some of the above has shown you, if implemented in the right areas in the right manner it is worth the hype and could lead to some very interesting changes, some of which are being seen now, but a much larger amount of which we can expect to see in action in the very near future.
An Overview on How Blockchain is Being Used Around the World was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.