The World’s First Blockchain City
by Gurudutt Perichetla
Guided by Sukant Khurana
Ever wonder how Blockchain, a modern technological marvel, can bring shape the future of a city and its economy? Welcome to Dubai!
Blockchain and the Double-Spending Problem
Blockchain technology can be described as a shared, replicated and secure ledger system that allows participants to see one system of records. It is shared via peer-to-peer technology across the members of a network and provides privacy, security and trust.
Blockchain was originally conceptualised and implemented as a digital currency to solve a flaw in digital cash systems, known as “Double-spending”.
Double-spending is a situation in which the same digital token is spent more than once, primarily due to file duplication. A result of this was a loss of trust in the circulation of such currencies.
Blockchain eliminated vulnerabilities by introducing a secure and synchronised shared ledger system. In the case of a banking system, transactions are endorsed by selected members and are kept private. Moreover, transactions are immutable — meaning that they are not modifiable. This builds trust between the stakeholders — the end user and banker.
Blockchain and Banking in Dubai
Recently, the National Bank of Dubai, the biggest bank in Emirates, had become the pioneer in implementing blockchain technology in the Middle East.
The bank had created a blockchain platform known as Cheque Chain to provide higher security standards and prevent fraud. The idea behind the cheque chain is that each cheque issued by the bank has a unique QR code.
Upon validating the cheque in a transaction, the cheque is registered on the bank’s Blockchain platform. This allows for a secure validation of authenticity and real-time access to the source at any given moment, at any given location.
Blockchain Summits in Dubai
It can be said that Dubai was one of the forerunners in embracing the technological marvel that is blockchain, primarily owing to their conferences and summits.
In May 2017, twenty-one start-ups, from around the world, had pitched their ideas in the ‘Smart Dubai Global Blockchain’ challenge. This helped bring cross-border collaboration to assess and elaborate these ideas into use-cases for full implementation in the near future.
The Dubai International Blockchain Summit was held on the 8th of January 2018. Twelve countries had participated in this summit and over thirty-five speakers discussed the trends in financial technology among 1000+ attendees. Topics of discussion included “Blockchain and Virtual Reality,” “The impact of Cryptocurrencies on Global Economy,” “Making Blockchain Powered Cities,” “Healthcare and Blockchain” and “Combating Fraud using Blockchain Technology”.
The Dubai Blockchain Summit was held on the 28th and 29th of March 2018 which was organised by the Global Blockchain Foundation, a non-profit organisation. Organisations such as the Wipro, The Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Fintech Association of Hong Kong were collaborators in the summit. Guest speakers included Chris Snook, the Chairman of the World Tokenomic Forum and Waqas Mirza, the CEO of Avanza Innovations. Topics of discussion included “Blockchain Opportunities in Dubai 2020” and “Re-Engineering the Global Socio-Economic Landscape using Blockchain”.
Further, The Future Blockchain Summit, organised by the Dubai World Trade Center, is to be held on the 2nd and 3rd of May 2018. It is a follow-up to the 2017 event and covers industries such as Fintech and Banking, Food Technology, Logistics, Healthcare, Smart Energy and Transportation, to name a few. There are over a hundred guest speakers and over eighty expert vendors and startups participating in this event. Event partners include Oracle, Microsoft and The National Bank of Dubai.
The Dubai Blockchain Strategy
The Government of Dubai had signed a MoU with Avanza Solutions to create breakthrough solutions using a blockchain platform known as Cipher. This would then be used for a citywide blockchain based payments platform.
Also, the Ruler of Dubai along with the Prime Minister of the UAE had launched a strategy to adopt and invest in blockchain technology. known as “The UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021”, which is built on four fundamental principles — the happiness of residents and citizens, advanced legislation, government efficiency and global entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, Dubai’s Transport Authority announced plans to create a vehicle management system, based on the blockchain, that allowed customers to track history of their vehicle. This would come into action by 2020.