UNLOCKing Blockchain Innovation: What are other countries doing with Blockchain?

The UNLOCK Blockchain forum brought together international Governments and Blockchain entrepreneurs in Dubai.

The event attracted Government folks from UAE, South Korea, Malta, China, and the USA. Their view was that Blockchain will improve delivery of basic government services, and play an important role in their regional economic development.

Driving Distributed in Dubai

Back in 2016 Dubai set its city Blockchain Strategy to "deliver more seamless, safe, efficient, and impactful public services."

It set the goal of eliminating bureaucracy by replacing 100 million documents with natively digital transactions, underpinned by distributed ledgers, by 2021.

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Dr Aisha Bin Bishr discussed Dubai's 20 planned pilots spanning applications across permits & licenses, transportation, energy, health and education. Its still early days, but the strategy certainly came across as a co-ordinated cross-government multi agency effort with defined results and deadlines.

"Adopting BlockChain technology Dubai stands to unlock [£1 billion] in savings annually in document processing alone"

Furthest forward is Dubai Land Department who are building a real estate register system to record transactions with improved transparency, time stamping and credibility in this hotspot of foreign inbound property investment.

This department deals with Land and property register, and also in the extended services of property financing, letting, brokering, and disputes. The project will deliver in 2019 and involves a broad ecosystem including real estate companies: IKEA and an Emirates Bank.

Startup City

Dubai hopes to establish itself as a destination for the most innovative start-ups to help the nation state diversify away from oil revenues. Blockchain startups are arguably attracting the best talent and cash given current high levels of global investment both directly and through and token sales.

UNLOCK attracted a global cross-section of Blockchain tech companies Public Services Health, Genomics, Utilities, Electric Vehicles, Cybersecurity, and Education.

At the event The City Energy utility DEWA issued a challenge to the start up companies around a Blockchain platform for Electric Vehicle registration, charging and billing. It struck me that in issuing challenges for SME engagement at least, Dubai could learn a bit from CivTech®.

Leadership and Agility

So with under 500K inhabitants Dubai seems committed to taking a global lead in digital Public Services through leading the way in practical application of Blockchain tech. Around the world smaller states and cities are being more agile in driving exploitation of this new tech.

  • Malta was represented by Dr Abdalla Kablan who explained Malta's initiatives in Public Services and cryptocurrency for its financial services and online gaming industries.
  • We heard from Andrea Tinianow of small (1M residents) but significant (60% of US Corporations) state of Delaware whose Blockchain initiative is aimed at addressing share ownership, record keeping, transaction and settlement.

Malta and Delaware's Blockchain initiatives are directly sponsored by their Prime Minister and Governor respectively. In Dubai the nation's Ruler is on record saying all applicable transactions will be on the Blockchain by 2020.

Its interesting that in these small cities and nations, as in global digital leader and blockchain nation Estonia, that digital public services leadership has come from clear political leadership and the sponsorship of Heads of State.

Wallet.Services are preparing a report on Distributed Ledger applications in Public Services on behalf of Scottish Government, following interviews with global Public Services leaders and Public Sector DLT early adopters.

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