What are the Blockchain Opportunities for Government?
The world’s population is growing rapidly and may reach 9 billion by 2050, and more people are moving to urban areas. But, do cities have the systems in place to handle this growth and flow of all these new people? Fortunately, technology like blockchain are starting to help cities solve some of those issues. Blockchain can efficiently handle many needs of city governments. Due to the scalability and power of this technology, it is rapidly spreading around the world. There are already thousands of use cases around the globe.
What is Blockchain?
According to Business Insider, The origins of blockchain are a bit nebulous. A person or group of people known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakomoto invented and released the tech in 2009 as a way to digitally and anonymously send payments between two parties without needing a third party to verify the transaction. It was initially designed to facilitate, authorize, and log the transfer of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
This system is 100% verifiable because it is public and each individual or business has their own mathematical identifier. These identifiers are solutions to long algorithms and are unique to each identity, so it is impossible to fake. The blockchain has given birth to the popular digital currency Bitcoin. This coin has a limited supply and is 100% verifiable so there are no fake Bitcoins. For that reason, it is gaining massive popularity. So, how is government using blockchain to better serve their citizens?
The most important impact on blockchain on the government is the potential to switch to a digital coin based payments system. In fact, the Canton of Zug in Switzerland already accepts payments in Bitcoin for government fees and fines.
Using blockchain payments means there will be no more payments “lost in the mail” or from an unauthorized account. Every payment will be 100% verifiable and traceable. Citizens will have an easy time interacting with their local, state and national governments for these purposes.
Around the world interest groups, political parties, strongmen and others try to disrupt the sanctity of the voting booth for their own purposes. They either stuff ballots, restrict voting or make identification difficult. Blockchain promises to end these practices by providing a verifiable way for each citizen to cast their ballot. They will know that they have been counted. Additionally, no fake votes can be cast because they would have to be associated with fake accounts which would be easy to detect. This may have a radical impact on the way government and democracy are practiced around the world.
Smart Contracts Verifying Ownership
Verifying ownership of property and other assets for taxes and sales has been a devilishly complex task for hundreds of years, especially in the developing world. Oftentimes, multiple individuals will claim ownership to a single asset with no way to arbitrate the dispute. Working this out often takes months and huge costs. Blockchain is about to change all of that for governments and individuals alike.
In the future, contracts will all be verified on the blockchain using the universal ledger system. Under this system, anytime the asset ownership changes hands it is publicly documented and easy to verify. Best of all, there will be almost no cost to this verification. While there are currently dozens of different firms working on the ideal solution, there is no breakthrough product yet. However, the logic is too undeniable. In fact, different governments around the world will likely utilize different solutions.
Lastly, local governments will be able to post local records for citizens interested in finding out more about their community. While some of this is online today, it is hard to verify and confirm. In the future, citizens will be able to determine this public information through the public ledger system. This should cut down on corruption significantly and clean up government operations.
For example, they may want to know who made a decision to authorize a new power plant in the town. Or they may want to see the application for a new real estate development and what incentives were provided. All of these can be placed on a public blockchain for verification.