Governments make fast progress on blockchain adoption
Nine in ten government organisations across the world are planning to invest in blockchain technology by 2018, according to a survey of public sector leaders.
In a report based on the survey, technology firm IBM said that the emerging technology has the potential to help civil servants deal with the pressure of constrained resources and ageing populations.
Government bodies also have a key role in the wider adoption of blockchain across society, according to the report.
It said: “Government organizations, like those in any industry, are wise to take the long view on blockchains. But unlike other industries, because they shape the regulatory and legal environment, they can’t afford to stay on the sidelines.
“Government organizations don’t just stand to benefit from the greater trust promised by blockchains; they are uniquely charged to create it for the benefit of all.”
Blockchain technology creates a digital ledger on which transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly.
IBM, in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit, surveyed 200 government leaders in 16 countries on their experience and expectations from the technology.
It found that those with plans to invest in blockchain by 2018 were focusing their efforts in the areas of financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance.
In addition, a group of “trailblazers”, which made up 14% of respondents, expect to have blockchains in production at scale by 2017 – with progress fastest in the Asia Pacific region and Western Europe.
The report said: “These findings reveal that blockchain adoption is accelerating faster than originally anticipated, with government executives identifying key areas and benefits to explore.”
Blockchain has the potential to become a “reputation system” because they capture the lifetime history of government.
“Moreover, because fraudulent activity can be quickly detected, it is possible that blockchains could deter a significant amount of fraud altogether”, the report said.
In addition, the technology has the potential to provide benefits in the area of citizen identity verification.
It cited Estonia, where citizens from any country can apply for a government-issued digital identity secured on blockchains.
IBM said that governments should consider forming consortia to better understand the value that can be gained from adopting blockchain technology.
Last year, a UK government report found that distributed ledger technology could help government reduce fraud, error and the cost of paper intensive processes.
It also has the potential to provide new ways of assuring ownership and provenance for goods and intellectual property, the report concluded.
Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said blockchain technology “has the potential to transform the delivery of public and private services.
“It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust and make a leading contribution to the government’s digital transformation plan.”
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