A panel discussion on the most significant use cases for blockchain technology in the public sector at Sir Anthony Ritossa’s 13th Global Family Office Investment Summit in Dubai delivered insights into the factors government representatives should consider when thinking about adopting blockchain.
Panel members had all been involved in employing blockchain technology in the public sector, in some cases in collaboration with private entities.
Implementing blockchain to reduce costs
‘The savings that blockchain brings are a big factor when it comes to government services,’ says Ahmed Yousif, Digital Transformation and Strategy head, Mecca Municipality as well as Middle East Lead of the BSV Blockchain for Government Initiative.
In sharing his experience, challenges and successes in digital transformation of the Mecca municipality, Ahmed notes that the government of Saudi Arabia is adopting the digital economy at a significant pace.
But when it came to its blockchain-based identity system, it actually started on the municipality level.
The municipality has an integration with the government’s national ID system. When a citizen logs a request for a municipal service, the system draws from the national system to verify your identity. Initially, the integration of these different levels of the state was seen as a goal in itself.
And yet, now that they’re seeing the efficiency and savings it’s delivering, and that a blockchain layer brings integrity to any process, more services are being migrated onto the system.
Adopting blockchain gradually, one government function at a time
‘Governments have to go slow and steady with their adoption of blockchain, but they have to scale it up,’ advised Muhammad Salman Anjum, managing director of Aventis Tech, a B2B and B2C blockchain provider and Head of BSV Hub – Middle East South Asia.
Using the UAE as example, he says there are 40 different government entities that have adopted blockchain in the last 3 or 4 years. These entities have launched more than 200 initiatives, and partnered with 120 plus private entities on those blockchain-based initiatives.
One of those initiatives is UAE Pass, the UAE Citizen’s Residence ID.
‘You can’t start with a nationwide blockchain-based voting system, you have to go step-by-step, starting with small use cases, then to the critical ones like IDs. Once all the wrinkles have been ironed out you can take on government functions that could change the fate of a country – like elections. To me, it’s a gradual process. And yet, countries who want to go for this need to start now with their smaller use cases.’
Muhammad Salman Anjum, managing director of Aventis Tech, a B2B and B2C blockchain provider and Head of BSV Hub – Middle East South Asia sees the opportunity for tier-two government entities, such as fiscal authorities, as well as International relations organisation to benefit from blockchain technology as well. He views a grounds-up approach as the best way to blockchain transformation: starting with local government before expanding to provincial, national and international level.