Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen led a panel discussion at Sir Anthony Ritossa’s 13th Global Family Office Investment Summit in Dubai on the role of blockchain in government.
A significant use case already for blockchain technology, governments and public sector agencies worldwide are increasingly building solutions on blockchains like Bitcoin SV, providing a host of benefits—from more efficient public services, to applications that strengthen trust and accuracy in decision-making.
The panel featured Ron Austring of EHR Data; Mugamma Salman Ajum of the Bin Zayed Group; Digital Transformation Lead at The Holy Makkah Municipality, Ahmed Yousif; and Aly Madhavji, Managing Partner of the Blockchain Founders Fund.
Ron Austring explained how EHR Data was working with governments to develop blockchain solutions to common healthcare problems. In particular, EHR Data is working with health authorities in the United States to facilitate better data for tackling the opioid crisis. Their system, powered by BSV, records prescription transactions at scale nationwide, providing a single source of truth for data on opioid prescriptions on a publicly accessible blockchain.
According to Austring, the U.S. government under the current administration has been very open to innovation through blockchain technology, and has been looking for opportunities to accelerate the development of solutions powered by blockchain. The EHR Data offering is one such example, allowing for better, more managed health outcomes through better collection and handling of data via the blockchain.
Muhammad Salman Ajum of the Bin Zayed Group said research has already shown the public sector to be one of the main beneficiaries of blockchain technology, alongside the financial sector. He said that the biggest use cases by scale are currently in public sector applications, describing the technology as “a match made in heaven” for government agencies. In particular, agencies need trust, both in the integrity of their data and in its application. Describing blockchain as “the right tech at the right time” for public sector agencies, Ajum said countries across the world were significantly ramping up their exploration of blockchain, including for the provision of e-services.
He spoke of the need for a ground-up approach to developing blockchain solutions—starting with local and municipal level government, through state level government, through to international government, to provide more effective, more efficient data driven solutions.
Ahmed Yousif of The Holy Makkah Municipality said there were both short and long-term impacts from governments adopting blockchain technologies, which can help address the challenges and real business problems they face in the day-to-day.
Bringing different agencies to the table to work on B2G collaborations, technology generates data, data brings value to solve government problems for the long term, and blockchain links that data to government agencies, in order to solve their problems from the ground up.
According to Yousif, the key advantage for the public sector in building and relying on blockchain systems is through introducing better quality decisions, via better collection and application of data.
Aly Madhavji of the Blockchain Founders Fund echoed the sentiments of the other speakers, pointing to some of the UN blockchain initiatives currently in progress. One area where blockchain is already making a difference is in international remittances, where reducing costs to under 3% is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals. At the moment, small dollar remittances can be liable to fees as high as 20%–with blockchain these can be hugely reduced.
Similarly, blockchain can help with the 1.1 billion people in the developing world who are unbanked or without government issued ID, and thereby effectively excluded from the financial system. Now, with a mobile device, blockchain and cryptocurrency is allowing these people to access basic financial services for the first time.
The discussion also turned to e-voting, and voter registration on the blockchain—topical in light of controversy in the U.S. surrounding the recent Presidential election. With blockchain delivering solutions across a number of public service agencies, it is clear the technology is set to overhaul more government processes in the near future.