Dec. 3, 2018 | by Bradley Cooper
The common idea in the blockchain space is that governments are ambivalent at best or hostile at worst toward blockchain and cryptocurrency. Governments, however, are also beginning to analyze blockchain technology and how they can improve recordkeeping and offer services.
Blockchain Tech News spoke with Srini Vasan, founder and CEO of eShipGlobal about how governments are using blockchain technology now, as well as ways they could use it. Vasan will also be presenting on how government organizations and businesses can plan and execute proof-of-concept blockchain projects at the XChain2 event in Houston, Texas from Dec. 3 to 4.
Q. What are the benefits of blockchain for governments?
A. Government agencies are attracted to the technology because it can streamline recordkeeping and promote transparency and accountability in transactions, Blockchain acts like a shared record book where each party to a transaction— citizens, government agencies or businesses—holds a live copy of the record book and authorizes the legitimacy of the transaction in real time.
That means tasks such as authenticating spending contracts, managing property transfers and health care records, and tracking digital copyrights could get done faster with greater accuracy.
Q.What does blockchain do better than prior digital recordkeeping systems?
A.The current digital recordkeeping systems are siloed and records are maintained on their own recordkeeping ledgers. Some are in database and some are in Excel and some are in different systems. This creates large duplication of efforts, lack of transparency and accountability and inconsistencies across supply chain that can cause delay in the delivery of assets.
These duplications and inconsistencies are associated with large costs and risk making the industry and market inefficient.
Blockchain solution can disrupt the way the shipping is done today, regulation and compliance checks are currently performed today, creating an environment where ... industry, market players and regulators have access to trusted shipping data which are verified, time-stamped and hard to tamper (with) creating, immutable, transparent and historical records.
Q. Has government interest in blockchain grown?
A. Government interest in the technology has grown from a handful of studies and testing initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to full-fledged pilot programs and interagency coordination in the Department of Homeland Security, CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection), the General Services Administration and the state of Delaware. But technical limitations, a shortage of blockchain-savvy talent and a need to educate policymakers and government workers on how blockchain works could slow its adoption.
We see more governments around the world are spurring blockchain initiatives. For example, the Australian government has initiated many blockchain projects across the government. Dubai will be offering all its services through blockchain by 2020.
Q. Can government adoption help spur mainstream adoption?
A.The U.S. federal government is an enormously powerful entity to push this technology along. The federal government provides a place where this technology can really begin to be demonstrated in terms of its value.
Given the nature of blockchain technology, the government can really power the technology by introducing blockchain-enabled services across all agencies.
Blockchain is not just technology, it is the business transformation. Blockchain advocates, industry consultants and other proponents of the technology say government adoption would help to cement the private sector's trust in blockchain and spur its growth. They're also hoping that private sector worries about blockchain reliability and security will be assuaged if the government starts using it widely.
Image via Istock.com.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com and BlockchainTechNews.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.