UK Government Is Going to Trial Blockchain’s Distributed Ledger Technology

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by Zhanna Lyasota · 3 min read
UK Government Is Going to Trial Blockchain’s Distributed Ledger Technology
Photo: Alexander Burkhardt/Flickr

The UK’s Chief Scientist and Advisor Sir Mark Walport explained in this report that blockchain has the potential to help governance to politicians and leaders of authority.

The Chief Scientific Advisor of the UK Sir Mark Walport, has recently published a report titled ‘Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond Block chain.’ The report suggests that the British government should begin trials of blockchain to see how usable it is.

In his report, Sir Mark Walport explains how blockchain can help government collect taxes, issue passports, deliver benefits and “ensure the integrity of government records and services.

“Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services,” he mentioned in the report.

“In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely, according to exact rules,” he added.

Existing approaches to data management in government departments typically involve large centralized systems with “a high cost single point of failure”. The systems may be more vulnerable to hacking or errors.

In his report, Sir Mark Walport pointed to a distributed ledger technology that is experimented by the Estonian government and developed by an Estonian company. The technology, known as Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI), allows citizens to look up and verify the integrity of their documented records on government databases.

The initiative is seen as one to successfully curb corruption and illegal government intervention. Adoption and awareness of the blockchain technology among the government and its citizens has also launched new digital services such as e-Tax and e-Business Register. As said by Sir Mark Walport, these initiatives help reduce the administrative burden on the everyday citizen and the government.

The UK itself has a proven track record in being a welcoming and fostering destination for Fintech innovation and research: the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has notably spoken about digital currencies, saying they “may now well play a big part in our financial future.”

On the whole, blockchain, that is seen by many as the next big thing in the financial service sector, has many potential uses, from transforming money to modernizing the banking system to digitizing legal processes.

The hype and investment have moved to blockchain start-ups that promise to decrease settlement times and cut back-office bank costs. Unlike bitcoin that has been running since 2009, uses of blockchain in banking remain largely experimental. One vision is for a single database maintained and accessed by the biggest banks to execute and settle trades.

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