Engaging in blockchain related searches online usually reveals the same encouraging statement, blockchain technology is the backbone of the ‘New Internet’ (Web 3.0) and those who do not adapt will be left behind. Much like the unfortunate businesses who failed to pivot their models around the first version of the World Wide Web (Web 1.0) in the early 90’s, governments who drag their feet incorporating blockchain solutions into their existing workflows will most likely lag behind other proactive nations and miss an invaluable opportunity to better serve their citizens.
The benefits afforded by blockchain technology include security, efficiency and speed, all areas the public sector is lacking. Dozens of federal, state and local governments globally have started testing blockchain technology in pilots and trials for varying use cases. Figure 1 below depicts the current use case status of different nations and their application of the technology. The leading use cases that have been announced or are in progress center around digital currencies/payments, land registration and voting.
Where can we expect to see the majority of Governments utilize Blockchain Technology?
The legitimacy of the voting process has been under constant scrutiny in the media as piles of reports emerge vindicating various parties with the tampering and manipulation of results. Countries such as the United States, Germany, Russia, China, and the Philippines have all had incidents over the years. These recurring instances confirm a growing concern surrounding the voting systems and mass public distrust in the validity of elections. Aside from the vulnerability to manipulation, the voting process lacks transparency, is a costly endeavor and in most cases is inaccessible to those in remote locations.
The blockchain alternative provides a cheaper solution that requires no need for paper ballots, voting machines or maintenance and also becomes more accessible to habitants of any location, remote or otherwise. They can then cast their vote at a time which does not interfere with work schedules. The decentralization of the ledger renders cyberattacks virtually impossible and the introduction of digital identity will verify that all votes cast are from citizens who are legally eligible.
Africa is a region that would stand to gain the largest benefit from realizing a blockchain solution to hold elections across the continent. Just last year the Kenyan national elections were annulled and rescheduled, whilst in 2015 the Nigerian elections were also almost nullified due to reports outlining meddling in the election results. There is a great suitability for blockchain technology in Africa as it can be utilised throughout the continent without having to build the infrastructure for it.
E-voting has already been put into motion by Estonia where Nasdaq developed a platform on their Tallinn Stock Exchange using Blockchain technology in 2016. This allowed investors to submit online votes during meetings or transfer their vote to a proxy. Due to the success of the trial in Estonia, Nasdaq who have been original and vocal supporters of blockchain technology are already utilizing it to power their market for shares of private companies.
The slow paper-based land registry licenses currently used to purchase and sell land can be replaced with fast, cost-effective smart contracts that can formally transfer land deeds as soon as funds have been exchanged, eliminating the lengthy registration gap. These deeds are then accessible and unamendable, saving homeowners millions on insurance against incorrect real estate titles and crippling fraud.
HM Land Registry in England and Wales are conducting a blockchain test using a digital street where purchasing of land will be instantaneous
The Republic of Georgia will validate government property purchases with blockchain technology
Countries like the Ukraine who suffer from real estate fraud are implementing blockchain solutions for foreign purchases of land in an effort to increase the credibility of their real-estate and therefore the value of the market
Dubai: Leading Innovation in Governmental applications of Blockchain Technology
Striving towards the goal of being the ‘happiest city on earth,’ Dubai has blown other nations out of the water in regards to planned blockchain applications. Mindful of aggressive timelines, they aim to have a blockchain based government by 2021. Smart Dubai, the organization tasked with making this a reality states that they are almost ready to implement 20 different Blockchain schemes within their government. This initially involves creating a paperless government where 100 million documents currently processed each year by the Emirate, including visa applications, land deeds, receipts, license renewals, and voting ballots will become electronic. Smart Dubai claim that 5.5 billion dirham (over 1 billion GBP or just under 1.5 billion USD), will be unlocked from document processing alone. The Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan claimed ‘after 2021, no employee or customer of the Government of Dubai will need to print any paper document’ during a visit to the Smart Dubai HQ offices in February 2018. ‘This reflects our holistic vision for our role as human beings, not only towards Dubai, but towards the world as a whole.’
The city has implemented strategic pillars to achieve this innovative vision, the first of which being government efficiency. In addition to the money saved by their paperless-government the organization predicts that Blockchain technology would redistribute up to 21.5 million hours of economic productivity and save up to 114 megatons of CO2 emissions.
The second pillar is industry creation where blockchain technology will become open-source from the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, giving the opportunity to citizens and current professionals to adopt the technology and create countless lucrative businesses in the private sector. It is predicted that this will greatly benefit real estate, fintech and banking, healthcare, transportation, urban planning, smart energy, digital commerce and tourism.
The final pillar is international leadership. Smart Dubai claim that they will use its blockchain platform to aid international travelers in faster entry of the country from pre-approved security clearance, pre-authenticated temporary digital wallets, easier mobility in the city from approved driving licenses, and guaranteed wireless connectivity.
These large ideas are certainly creating space at the top for the Emirate of Dubai and keeping in trend with their objective of being 10 times more advanced than all other cities in the world. The very essence of blockchain technology makes it extremely compatible with government objectives and with time, effort and innovation this could be the most revolutionary love story since dot com and PayPal. CryptoLingo recognizes that this will be no easy feat as solutions need to be scalable to consume data storage records of entire governments and its citizens but the application of blockchain technology within this particular area is well on its way to reaching significant milestones and that could shape the mainstream adoption of this technology.