Blockchain technology has become popular in the shadow of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. One of the fundamental features of these cryptocurrencies is that they are decentralized and cannot be regulated by government control.
Another key feature of cryptocurrencies is that buying and selling takes place on completely anonymous IP addresses. While it would not be impossible for advanced governments to track which IP address is associated with which physical location, it would take a lot of resources, time and effort to find out the individuals or groups in ownership of each address.
Anonymity and decentralized control are the two key features of cryptocurrencies that have made them suspicious for governments around the world. And as cryptocurrencies have fallen out of favor with the governments, the same thing has happened with the Blockchain technology.
Government Adoption of Blockchain Technology
The Blockchain is already being used by a number of businesses around the world. Major corporations like Google, IBM, Microsoft and financial institutes like Barclays, Credit Suisse, and HSBC are developing ways to integrate Blockchain platforms into their operations.
The government adoption of blockchain based systems has been relatively slower. Crypto experts believe that negative perceptions surrounding currencies like Bitcoin have played a role in this. ICO scams have also put the officials off the idea of using Blockchain for useful purposes.
Blockchain Application in Public Sector
The Blockchain technology can be used in a number of areas in the public sector. Some areas that have been identified are Property Title records, Social Welfare and Electoral Process.
Property Title Records
Buying and selling properties and land is a long process right now. It usually involves multiple interactions between buyer and seller, dozens of third party verifications and a lot of back and forth before a deal is finalized.
Blockchain technology can greatly improve the speed and efficiency of the property transfer as well as mortgage approval process. Consider the case of Sweden where the land registration authority, Lantmäteriet, has been trying to find ways to digitize the land transfer process.
The agency’s website tested a mobile app last year that allowed buyers and sellers a place to come together to conduct transactions. The app greatly reduced the turnaround time for a sale from six months to three months.
Shifting the record of titles to a blockchain platform will add security and speed to the system while keeping it publicly accessible.
Social welfare attracts a lot of controversy and public debate due to inefficiencies in the distribution system. Given the economic climate and unemployment, a large number of people rely on government assistance programs.
Allegations are common that a lot of money ends up in the wrong hands or pocketed by corrupt officials. A Blockchain based disbursement system with strict checks would be a viable solution. It will ensure that money goes where it is supposed to go. Attempts to manipulate the ledger can be recorded and audited, improving the overall transparency in welfare.
The 2016 U.S. elections are still marred by allegations of rigging and fraud, from both sides. A Blockchain based user data platform will give voters complete anonymity and add transparency to the system. Voter identity on a Blockchain platform would be authenticated through a system of P2P verification and there will be no chance of identity theft or voter fraud.