A Different Kind of Revolution

ipt41bew5rs-thomas-kelleyLast week we made the case for why we think Blockchain Could Save the World, but that was more of an general overview without all the nitty-gritty how people around the world are actually using it.This week we’re putting our money where our mouths are and highlighting specific use cases where the blockchain could have serious effect.

Perhaps no other example is more interesting (or fraught with criticism) than Government use. This is interesting because the original premise of the blockchain was based on the idea that governments (mainly western powers) shouldn’t be able to control policy surrounding global currency.The argument was that a decentralized currency like Bitcoin would take the power hands of the few and transfer it into the hand of the masses. This was Satoshi Nakamoto’s genesis for Bitcoin and ironically 15+ years later some of the entities criticized in Nakamoto’s white paper are interested in harnessing the blockchain platform and using it to improve their own processes.

Ukraine’s Blockchain Elections

An obvious use for blockchain in government is to help improve the registration and trust system around voting. Paper ballots are still pretty much the global norm, but that could change in the near future, with seamless trustable and transparent voting records that work not because a country’s central authorities are meant to be trusted, but because it takes the trusted ledger out of the hands of the few and puts it on blockchain where (if you read the first post in this series) an open ledger is maintained through millions of nodes on a network and no one entity has control of the information, making it nearly impossible to tamper with the results. It’s no surprise to see the Ukraine embrace blockchain so readily, as its newly-elected and freshly ‘revolutionized’ government seeks ways to cement its legitimacy in an open and transparent manner.

The Fillipino E-Peso

One way to strengthen the legitimacy of your money system and improve the lives of your citizens might be to just create your own cryptocurrency. The government of the Phillippines is looking to do just that with its proposed ‘E-Peso’, “ … a legal tender to be (sic) used to pay debts, taxes, and buy goods and services …”. While the Phillippines is only looking to introduce a limited amount of E-Pesos on the market, and they won’t be directly tied to the value of Bitcoin, it’s an exciting step that could act as an experiment to a future use case for governments all around the world.

Register Efficiency in the UK

The United Kingdom is taking extraordinary measures to find better ways to measure, store and project their data … particularly in the realm of registers and how the blockchain can speed up the time it takes to verify information. Using this system, the UK government hopes that it can efficiently gauge the integrity of its data so that the register itself can “prove the data hasn’t been tampered with.” Using the blockchain is a great way to ensure that because of democratic confirmation: the idea that all nodes on the network verify together the accuracy of the blocks, making it nearly impossible for one entity to affect change to secured information. A better way to handle information makes for an easier, more transparent and ultimately cheaper registry system in the UK, a country with a very robust (and expensive) public sector.

Ultimately, the blockchain is going to mean different things for different governments. In the developed world in places like Canada and the UK, the blockchain might help with ease of access and efficiency. In the developing world in places like India or Uganda, the blockchain will help lend legitimacy to crucial registries like land title, marriage and births … accurate information we take for granted in the developed world, but can be frustratingly inaccurate in others.