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Advice for the public sector on investing in blockchain


During Sir Anthony Ritossa’s 13th Global Family Office Investment Summit in Dubai, Jimmy Nguyen – Founding President of the Association for the BSV Blockchain – hosted a panel discussion on B2G Partnerships for Public Good.

Given the panel participants’ extensive experience in implementing blockchain solutions from within or in partnership with the public sector, Nguyen took the opportunity to ask them to share their advice:

‘I remember the early days of the Internet and how people wished they had invested in early Internet companies under the assumption that they would have done very well. What would you tell people about how to best support blockchain, and which type of blockchain projects and ventures can deliver government projects for public good?’

‘Don’t get left behind!’

Ahmed Yousif is the Digital Transformation and Strategy head at Mecca Municipality as well as Middle East Lead of the BSV Blockchain for Government Initiative. Here’s the advice he offers:

‘I once got asked for my future outlook on blockchain ventures at a digital transformation conference. My take is that you have to study history. To use an analogy, the Apple iPad of today contains four billion transistors which is equal to the supercomputer of 1995. Imagine that! Today’s children are playing with the supercomputers of 1995! From that point of view, what would be required to make today’s supercomputers available to the masses in 10-years time?’

‘Personally, I see blockchain as the big contender. I’m not just going to preach that you should invest. From a government perspective, I tell my superiors and team-mates that implementing blockchain is our chance to become a part of the history of technology. I believe we can make better decisions and utilise smart applications at a much faster pace by adapting blockchain. If we’re slow to adapt we’ll be left completely out of the market.’

‘Invest cautiously!’

Aly Madhavji functions as MD at Blockchain Founders Fund, senior blockchain fellow at INSEAD and consultant to the United Nations on emerging technologies. Here’s his view on investing in blockchain within the public sector:

‘As with any emerging technology, there’s a lot of risk involved with investing. And there are certain things in this space that it’s very hard to get exposure to. If you think about permissioned blockchains, it’s hard to get exposure to ventures like IBM’s Hyperledger.’

‘We invest in all sorts of assets related to the blockchain industry, and get exposure to everything from mining to education tech, agricultural technology and FinTech. We ensure that our portfolio is well diversified across sectors, by investing in high flying start-ups. And that’s where we’ve seen a lot of returns from our perspective.’

‘But as with any technology, there will also be a lot of ventures that fail. It’s important to be aware of that and invest cautiously. Take all claims with a grain of salt and keep your risk lens on.’

‘Not all blockchains are alike’

Ron Austring, chief scientist of EHR Data, is working towards providing a single source of truth for healthcare data on a public blockchain. This is what he had to say about investing in blockchain technology:

‘When you’re looking at a public blockchain project, you definitely have to look at how many transactions per second that blockchain can deliver. A lot of people have invested in blockchains that deliver no more than 15 transactions per second. You can’t really deliver much value to a government-scale project with 15 transactions per second.’ 

‘Consider a public blockchain’

‘Secondly, if you’re wary of exposing your data via a public blockchain, start by looking at use cases and running your own test cases. Even on a public blockchain, you can develop your project on a Testnet where you’re not exposing it to the public blockchain at all. You’ll get to see exactly what your application looks like on that Testnet. A Testnet will give you access to all of the same tools as the Mainnet, like block explorers to help you view your transactions. If you’re scared that you might be releasing something out too early, start with a Testnet launch.’

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