Is government ready for blockchain?

Is government ready for blockchain?

The potential for blockchain to affect change for a large number of people is very exciting and has been a hot topic in technology circles for a while. However, while businesses are just starting to understand how to harness the technology, it might be a while before agencies are in a position to implement the technology.

Bradley Brown, National Manager, Strategic Intelligence and Policy, AUSTRAC suggested that ‘while governments have traditionally balanced the risks and opportunities, we’re now seeing a far more forward-lending approach in engaging with businesses and embracing new technologies.’ He mitigated this by suggesting that government isn’t a trailblazer for new technologies.

Dr Rhys Bollen, Executive Director, Regulatory Policy, Better Regulation Division, Department of Finance, Services and Innovation NSW, mitigated this by suggesting ‘we’re a fast follower, rather than be on the bleeding edge of things.’

Victor Jiang, Founding Partner, Sapien Ventures, Chairman of the Board, Civic Ledger noted that perhaps the way for government to understand, and then to communicate the potential of blockchain was to start building up a body of use cases. He cited, how the city of Melbourne was developing a better way to track parking. Their municipal CIO partner are working on a system whereby citizens who held parking permits could trade with those who might need it ‘like an Airbnb with a government-controlled commodity.’ With a blockchain register, Jiang argued that you could use a distributed register to record who has the parking lot in real-time. The parking inspector would simply have to go around with an app and check the validity of the vehicle.’

There were also issues raised about who has the responsibility to remove the stigma of blockchain technology. Brown argued, that ‘it’s not necessarily the responsibility of government to remove that stigma. I think you’ll find that when more people are using the technology, you’re going to change the use case for them, and that’s how you’ll start to move digital currencies forward.

And contrary to popular belief, Dr Bollen suggests that ‘it’s not an entirely unregulated space.’

However, the panelists agrees that it will be some time before we see government implement the technology fully as Brown summed up ‘ governments are in the business of doing things more effectively and more productively. Blockchain finance, significant regulatory benefits, I still think we’re ways away until big business grapples and implements it to have a wide-scale impact.’

CeBIT Australia How governments can foster social inclusion