In crypto world, when we mentioned about government, majority of the people focus on their plans to regulate cryptocurrency. At this moment, cryptocurrency regulations may affect the most popular application of blockchain — issuing tokens. Because scams and AML (Anti-money Laundering) issues arise in these years, most governments are relatively conservative over cryptocurrency relating topics. But considering blockchain solely, many are willing to embrace the emerging technology. Regardless of the “work in progress” technology, some government are willing to experiment with blockchain, trying to figure out the positive changes this innovation could bring.
To decipher the government adoption of blockchain around the world, we choose 5 countries as examples. I had mapped out certain activities that government in these countries are or had planned.
Dubai can be said as the most proactive government in terms of innovation. Besides becoming a tourist attraction and business hub, this “City of the Future” also works on growing into the global technological pioneer. Dubai government has drafted “Smart Dubai” initiative and attempted applying some latest technology, aiming at making Dubai a smart city. The development plan includes, launching a reward policy on innovation, developing artificial intelligence, and transforming Dubai into the first government in the world to adopt blockchain technology at every sector.
Based on reports, Dubai will launch 20 services which will apply blockchain technology, exploiting its features of transparency and inalterability while recording transaction data. For example, Dubai Department of Finance, which is responsible for handling transactions among 27 government departments, will be able to monitor real-time transactions for the first time with blockchain technology. And Dubai Land Department will use blockchain technology to fundamentally improve its services, including ensuring transaction safety, recording property contracts to identify real estate ownership, and linking residents to water, electricity, gas, and telecommunication operators.
The integration of blockchain technology will shorten the lengthy paperwork process in the past and simplify transaction-related service procedures. Dubai government predicts that, the integration could considerably save manpower and the time cost. Thus, Dubai government is able to provide people with more affordable and efficient services.
At the beginning of 2018, Taipei City Government and IOTA foundation has signed the Memorandum of Understanding, aiming at applying the distributed ledger technology, Tangle, on the smart city development plan. The first project to be launched is a digital citizenship card created by TangleID. Its biggest difference from the previous practice, is that citizen’s personal datas are returned to them, making the datas genuine personal assets. Only the users themselves can open and authorize the personal datas. In the future, the digital citizenship card can be used for verifying identity during election, inquiring personal health information, and retrieving any datas related to other government services.
Airbox, another cooperative project with IOTA, is to fully demonstrate IOTA’s applicable scenario of IoT. AirBox is developed by a collaboration between Taipei City Government and several companies. Installed in many citizens’ homes and primary schools, the device monitors air-related datas and send them to Tangle, allowing others to check the air quality through website, iOS App, or Android App. Since the datas are stored on Tangle, they are immune to alterations while cutting down data storage costs. Additionally, people who are willing to install AirBox and to help collecting datas can earn IOTA as rewards.
In a bond auction in October, Austria government used blockchain technology to run the event. However, they did not utilize the technology to tokenize the government bonds, but leverage it in the notarization process (verifying the authenticity of data regarding to the auction). The bank in charge of the auction, OeKB, loaded the information relating to bond transaction from the original program, Auction Procedure of Federal Bonds of the Republic of Austria, and then recorded the transactions as hash values on the Ethereum blockchain to complete the notarization.
The officials of Austria government believed that adopting blockchain in bond auction can effectively improve security and efficiency. And by enhancing the credibility of the bond auction process, it may possibly reduce the cost of financing in the future. In addition, Austria’s Department of Treasury considered blockchain as their ‘economy policy focus’, and established FinTech Advisory Council to explore more benefits that this emerging technology can bring.
After the experiment stage in the election earlier this year, West Virginia plans to offer a mobile voting app which is powered by blockchain in their midterm election. This voting app will provide convenience by allowing citizens to vote from their smartphones. With this app, the overseas West Virginia citizens will be able to participate in the election even they can not return to their hometown. However, concerns over security have grown. Although blockchain is unalterable, hackers may find chances to attack due to the poor level of protection of citizens’ smartphones.
Australia had rolled out several blockchain adoptions: Commonwealth Bank of Australia was mandated by World Bank to issue bonds on the blockchain, Australian Securities Exchange is going to launch blockchain settlement platform by 2021 and they planned to transfer payments to the disabilities by utilizing blockchain technology recently.
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization formed a consortium with technology giant IBM and a law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. Their goal is to launch a national blockchain platform — Australia National Blockchain as a important infrastructure in developing digital economy. This project aims to encourage enterprises to move paperwork processes to the platform, then the business activities specified on the contracts will be conducted automatically by smart legal contract which is one of the feature of the platform. Another feature is that it is able to connect external data such as from IoT devices. And once the conditions are fulfilled, smart legal contract will be executed automatically.
Although we saw many governments trying to apply blockchain in different aspects, as a emerging technology, the application of blockchain has yet reach its full potential. And people are also exploring what issues can blockchain resolve. However, blockchain will definitely keep evolving. If there are more and more governments and enterprises willing to experiment on the technology, the development progress will speed up. As a result, blockchain will continue to evolve and it may become the solution to current problems we face resulting in better quality of life.
Article by Jacky, JOYSO
Cover Photo on Foter.com