Where Blockchain Adoption By Governments And The Private Sector Stands: An Overview

On June 5, leaders from government and industry will gather for the annual non-profit ACT-IAC Emerging Technology Forum in Washington, DC. A lineup of state, federal and international leaders will share insights about blockchain technology, both regarding government adoption of it and government regulation of the private sector’s use of it. The event is free of charge for registered government employees. Here’s a brief primer.

The Stand-Out Use Case

Since last year’s event, the stand-out area for the advancement of blockchain technology has been “track-and-trace” applications. Private industry has been using blockchain-based systems to track food provenance and supply chains for a few years already, but federal regulators are now joining the fray. The Department of Health and Human Services is using one for purchasing. The USDA recently approved one for its Process Verified Program for beef. The FDA is exploring one for pharmaceutical supply chains, as is the Department of Defense for resource management.

Is Identity Yet Ripe for Blockchain?

Hype remains ahead of reality for one use case for blockchains by governments: identity. Many are optimistic that blockchain technology can provide secure, immutable, self-sovereign identity credentials, but progress has been slow. That said, during the past year some key government projects were unveiled in this area. Zug, Switzerland has been using uPortto enable residents to register their identities on the Ethereum blockchain, and Microsoft recently announced Ion, a project built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain that can be integrated with its enterprise platforms. Bermuda has been promoting creation of an interoperable, blockchain-based identity standard for know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering compliance that would be accepted globally.

 

States Continue To Be Living Laboratories

States remain active in deploying blockchain-based platforms. Delaware’slong-awaited project for registering corporate stock ledgers on a permissioned blockchain recently moved to the pilot stage. The county clerk of Teton County, Wyoming chose a permissionless blockchain for recording land titles. And one state has led in the use of blockchain for the most basic of government services: voting. West Virginia successfully completed a blockchain-based pilot to allow veterans & overseas citizens to vote in the 2018 midterm election. The project started with two counties and will expand to other counties in the 2020 election. Denver used the same platform for its municipal election earlier this month.

Financial Services: Rise of A Parallel System Amid Major Regulatory Hurdles

The legacy financial services industry has been slow to adopt blockchain technology, but a large, new, blockchain-based financial sector has rapidly arisen instead. Regulatory ambiguity is both a cause and effect of the meteoric rise of this parallel financial system--meteoric because it only took a only few years for several of these new financial institutions to exceed the number of active users served by the biggest legacy financial companies.

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Blockchain-based voting has long been looked at as a use case for the technology – but as with any nascent application, there are bumps along the way.In m