Here’s how blockchain could help governments all around the world to improve efficiency in all processes amid coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus spoke the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra, to a whole sector of the real-world economy, both across the globe and on the internet.
Thousands of airports have stopped transporting passengers. My colleagues joke that the environment without flying planes has improved so much that, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Greta Thunberg can finally go to school.
I have been involved in IT venture capital investment for more than 15 years and remember well the global economic crisis of 2008, when one of the largest investment banks in the world, Lehman Brothers, filed for bankruptcy.
Later, dozens of lawsuits were held against both leading rating agencies and audit companies. According to the American authorities, they misled investors with their decisions and analytical reports, hiding the real state of affairs.
The bankruptcy of the financial giant triggered not only irreversible market processes in the global financial crisis but also created a fertile ground for the emergence of Bitcoin.
In 2008, someone under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto presented a small group of programmers with the concept of a new payment system, which could level the role of the state.
Against the background of the developing global crisis and the collapse of faith in classical financial institutions, Bitcoin began to quickly gain popularity. First, crypto-anarchists saw its merit in defending the freedom of anonymity on the web, and then the mass market caught wind of it. I am sure that many readers remember those times.
Twelve years have passed since then. A new crisis has impacted the economy from the outside. It forced governments to face each other and act as one against a single external enemy: COVID-19.
On the other hand, market turbulence cannot bypass the crypto-market. Dozens of Blockchain startups have worked in the field of airline loyalty programs and transport logistics. They have to urgently rebuild and look for new markets.
I believe this is the period that mentors of 500 Startups and Y Combinator so often tell their community of:
“It’s time to invent and change yourself – very quickly!”
Blockchain in the Fight Against Coronavirus
In the modern health infrastructure, with very few exceptions, there are no adequate mechanisms for the exchange of health information.
However, Blockchain allows you to store various types of data. For example, electronic medical records, data on clinical trials, the pharmaceutical supply chain, or information about donor organs and patient insurance.
Let’s take a look at the billing scheme. This begins when the patient is admitted to the hospital. It’s quite complex, since specific services may be paid for by the insurance company, while others are covered by the patient.
The main problem with billing for medical services is the lack of transparency and trust between doctors, patients, and insurance companies.
Blockchain can provide a transparent scheme of interaction, from the moment of fixing the services rendered to the receipt of insurance compensation.
Separately, I want to look at the announcement of the U.S. Department of Labor, reflecting the number of applications for unemployment benefits last week. In just three weeks, more than 16 million people were laid off from their jobs.
The software for employment services, developed in the “dead” COBOL language, is no longer capable of handling the flow of applications. This language has served as a basis for the most critical applications, which are used for banking, financial services, and – most alarmingly – U.S. government agencies.
It is one of the oldest programming languages in the world, and its first version was released in 1959. One co-author, IBM engineer Jean Sammet, died in 2017. There are almost no programmers left in the world who know this language.
In other words, Blockchain in the context of the coronavirus pandemic has become an ideal tool for registering unemployment claims, distributing subsidies, issuing government loans, and digital QR-coupons. It offers maximum transparency with minimal cost.
Blockchain can certainly help the government improve efficiency in all processes – but we must not forget about potential threats.
I often hear that Blockchain is just a technology. That is not true. It is a massive philosophy. Millions of users around the world enthusiastically embraced the concept of Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto presented in 2008, allowing them to feel financially independent from state institutions.
However, there are elements that are changing perspectives: the budget deficit, the slowing economic growth of the world’s leading economies, the increase of the retirement age, and the growth of social obligations. These have forced regulators to reconsider their approaches in identifying clients of the crypto-market, as well as anti-money laundering legislation, under the pretext of “fighting” terrorism and cybercrimes.
The coronavirus pandemic has allowed governments to impose huge fines for violating the self-isolation and shelter-in-place order. Apple and Google have agreed to create a technology for tracking people who come into contact with COVID-19 cases. Of course, the health of our loved ones is the most important thing in life, but upcoming dangers cannot be downplayed.
At the end of the coronavirus pandemic, the government can NOT be allowed to create schemes for the total identification of users or restrict their civil rights to free movement. The desire to do this will be great, but it contradicts Satoshi Nakamoto’s Blockchain philosophy of financial independence and decentralization.
Alexander Borodich, a venture investor, futurologist, digital media strategist., PhD in mathematics and electronics. He is the founder and CEO of Universa Blockchain, a decentralized network offering secure enterprise-level blockchain and data storage services.