Throughout the last years, endless articles and research papers were published about blockchain and the’dispersed ledger’ technologies which have been keeping the tech audience actively engaged. But as the steam blows off, is there substance left in the theoretical uses of the blockchain technology?


In an OECD event about the blockchain technology, held in September, delegates discovered that there are more than 200 cases of this technology set up in public services globally. The illustrations supplied by Marcos Bonturi, the OECD’s manager for public governance, added Mongolia’s use of a blockchain to authenticate medicines (as a method to fight off the 40% of fake pharmaceuticals available in the nation),  and Italy’s system which monitors the academic qualifications.

Now that the online has the option to have transparent transactions, and which makes it impossible to change records already created, the blockchain technology has proved valuable in cryptocurrencies, in which they supply an indisputable record of possession.

And software is emerging in public agencies, stated Bonturi: a blockchain is assisting the homeless to access get public services in Texas, while in Ghana the government is working with private partners to construct digital territory registries. A blockchain-based property registry is currently working nicely in Estonia, he added, and states such as Sweden and Chile are expecting to adhere to a similar concept of the Baltic country.

We will see more developments in the near future, and according to a paper from OECD: “Digitisation is viewed as a new source of growth, efficiency and relevance in today’s increasingly digital world.”

By supplying much more transparency and traceability for the contents of trucks and boats coming at national boundaries, blockchain could enhance safety, tax earnings, record-keeping and efficacy, according to the paper.

However, there aren’t any cases of blockchain in performance on the planet’s boundaries: Boris Johnson’s discussion of “technological options” allowing the UK and Irish regulatory regimes to diverge without producing the demand for a physical boundary stays firmly in the area of science fiction.

Generally, however, talks of blockchain’s capabilities are more inclined to realistic projects. According to Barbara Ubaldi, the paper’s lead author and deputy head of reform of the public sector at the OECD in Paris, “We have moved past the hype”.

Blockchain moves past the hype

Barbara Ubaldi stated that the advancement in providing blockchain software in the public sector has come at a slow pace. There’s no solid evidence of development in several locations. Fundamental challenges are the “power construction in the public sector” and also an”urgent need” for closer cooperation with the private industry. Additional important barriers include a lack of high quality data, a demand for the production of shared standards, and inadequate interoperability between public sector IT systems.

According to the OECD paper, risk aversion is another barrier.

Two-thirds of the nations surveyed in an OECD study stated that they prioritise standardised options over programs built around business demands, with many nations preferring to utilize proven technologies instead of exploring untested options.

That risk aversion is evidenced by public bodies’ lack of assurance within the regulatory atmosphere. “Regulators are behind the curve” on establishing rules governing issues like the use of information and the security of citizens’ privacy, states Bonturi, asserting that lots of nations lack the type of regulatory framework needed for blockchain to progress past well-meaning but small pilot strategies. The states that may advance the quickest, Bonturi adds, are those who provide the “path of least resistance” with regard to regulatory hurdles.

How to move ahead

Nonetheless, there are bright spots in certain nations, providing useful courses for civil servants everywhere. The OECD report praises the debut from authorities such as Australia, Estonia, New Zealand and the UK of electronic marketplaces, which facilitate the procurement of innovative digital technology and the commissioning of small providers.

Considering that the 2014 launching of the UK Digital Marketplace, the OECD states it has observed over £4.3bn (US$5.5bn) value of contracts pass, with almost half of that going to small and midsize enterprises. This has been followed in the UK this season from the debut of SPARK, an innovation market that allows public business clients to access the newest technology.

Stronger cooperation with the private sector may also accelerate advancement. Chile, Panama and Latvia are among the nations that have encouraged public-private cooperation on pilot schemes analyzing emerging technologies. And Estonia has supplied a “sandbox” environment for tech businesses to work on solutions and applications.

To realise the entire potential of blockchain, universally-transparent structures and authorities might need to accept that lots of blockchain programs are best directed by sectoral bodies or private businesses. Lots of public business blockchain experiments have followed a centralised, government-led strategy, as shown by a recent analysis from the EU Joint Research Centre, together with officials claiming the majority of the decision-making abilities. But among the tech’s key advantages is its ability to give accurate, confirmed information to everybody involved within the field of action; and if they lack the ability to make decisions utilizing it, a lot of blockchain’s potential wouldn’t be unrealised.

The EU Joint Research Centre report contains an example of a Maltese authorities project, which had started in 2017, and was made to verify academic qualifications. The ‘Blockcerts’ permits the production, issuing, seeing, and confirmation of certificates via blockchain.

It enables easy integration with existing instructional record-keeping systems and offers complete ownership of the documents to users using wallets. Using this system will actually save money, as requirements to inspect certification copies or transcripts are no longer needed. This past year, Italy started using the identical ‘Diplome’ program on a bigger scale to validate academic qualifications.

Blockchain has an identity

The OECD centre’s report points out that the blockchain may be expanded to authenticate different kinds of identity and certification, noting that Malta is investigating its use to check the identity of refugees in public service delivery. The most important barrier to wider adoption, researchers say, is too little consistency between nations’ legislative and regulatory frameworks, which emerges from the growth of internationally-accepted blockchain identification systems.

So blockchain is starting to come across real programs in public service delivery. And these, of course, are those who best match the technology’s attributes: providing international visibility of transactions and agreements between people, blockchain can offer certainty and clarity for those active in a business — government bodies one of them.

Presently, states Ubaldi, blockchain’s biggest potential lies in identification affirmation. A fifth of the planet’s inhabitants, the OECD states, are still with no legal or formally recognised individuality. So the chances are obvious but do not believe the hype.