The Blockchain is Perfect for Government Services, but Where is Canada?

  • With the blockchain, Estonia is bringing worldwide residents to them virtually, and increasing their government revenues .
  • Government services are one of the most obvious and immediate application areas for the blockchain.
  • The government of South Korea has come out in support of the blockchain as a priority and encouraging the banks to create projects around it.
  • Let’s hope the Canadian public sector starts putting the blockchain on their agenda, so we can see a significant difference in how government services are delivered.
  • In Singapore, the government has turned to blockchain to prevent traders from defrauding banks.

Government services are one of the most obvious and immediate application areas for the blockchain. Several governments around the world are already work…

@Philanthropitch: MaRSDD: Should the #blockchain be part of the public sector’s agenda in Canada?

Government services are one of the most obvious and immediate application areas for the blockchain. Several governments around the world are already working on a variety of initiatives, but in Canada, we have yet to see visible signs of activity.

Let me illustrate via some examples, what cities, municipalities and governments around the world are currently doing with the blockchain in the first half of 2016.

In Delaware, the state where a majority of new companies in North America will likely incorporate, Governor Jack Markell announced two recent blockchain initiatives, under the banner “Delaware is open for blockchain business”. The first was about moving state archival records to an open distributed ledger. The second allows any private company that incorporates in that state to keep track of all the equity issued and the different shareholder rights on the blockchain.

In Singapore, the government has turned to blockchain to prevent traders from defrauding banks. This was driven by an incident where Standard Chartered lost nearly $200 million from a fraud in China’s Qingdao port two years ago. Fraudulent companies used duplicate invoices for the same goods to get hundreds of millions of dollars from banks, so the Singapore government developed a system with the local banks focused on preventing invoice fraud by having the blockchain create a unique cryptographic hash (a unique fingerprint) of every invoice. The banks share then, this unique key, rather than the raw data. If another bank tries to register an invoice with the same details, the system will be alerted.

Estonia came up with the idea of establishing an e-residency program, where anyone in the world could apply to become an e-resident of Estonia, and they get a digital ID card with a cryptographic key to securely sign digital documents, eliminating the need for ink signatures on official paperwork. An e-resident can also open bank accounts using Estonia’s e-banking system, set up an Estonian company using the country’s online system, and use their e-services. With the blockchain, Estonia is bringing worldwide residents to them virtually, and increasing their government revenues accordingly.

Sweden is planning to place real estate transactions on the blockchain once a buyer and seller agree on a deal and a contract is made. From there, all parties involved in the transactions — banks, government, brokers, buyers, and sellers – are able to track the progress of the agreement once it is completed, enabling instantaneous confirmation of valid transactions with the utmost levels of security and integrity.

We can lament this situation, or we can take the challenge to catch-up. There is plenty of room for innovation, especially in small cities and municipalities who are a perfect starting point. Given the early stage of blockchain technology, it is a lot easier to implement solutions at smaller scales first, in jurisdictions that have between 5 to 50,000 citizens, instead of larger cities of more than a million inhabitants.

The Blockchain is Perfect for Government Services, but Where is Canada?