T Skevington and M Bacina
Consensys compiles collection of Governments co-opting blockchain
Perhaps the most common refrain of the blockchain-skeptic is that blockchain has no real use case, and will never see acceptance or application by serious government entities. In our experience this doesn't align with reality. Helpfully, Consensys has compiled a list of government or regulator-led blockchain projects in various stages of development around the world. The list doesn't quite match the headline of "Which Governments are using Blockchain" as it includes a lot of pilot or proof of concept or intentions, which don't quite add up to use, but they are all excellent starts.
We've included some of the highlights below from the US, UK and Australia, and a few other which are of most interest:
The Food and Drug Administration launched a pilot project to explore the utility of blockchain in the secure tracking and verification of prescription drugs.
Arizona enacted a law (HB 2417) explicitly granting smart contracts the same legal effect, validity, and enforceability as their standard contract counterparts.
In 2018, Delaware officials began exploring incorporating blockchain into different components of corporate filing processes. Now, Delaware uses blockchain technology to streamline business registry. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) blockchain automates the release and renewal of UCC filings and associated collateral.
Wyoming legislature passed legislation (SF0125) that amended Article 9 of the Wyoming Uniform Commercial Code to define digital assets that utilize blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
The Illinois Blockchain Initiative tested a blockchain-based birth registry pilot, to investigate a secure, self-sovereign identity for Illinois citizens.
The first government sanctioned, blockchain recorded real estate deal in the United States took place in Vermont, due to its proactive stance on distributed ledger technology.
Illinois investigated five blockchain projects, including property deed recording, academic credentialing, health provider registries, an energy credit marketplace, and securing vital records.
In partnership with ConsenSys Codefi, Her Majesty’s Land Registry set up a digital asset management platform to explore the potential of blockchain technology in the U.K. real estate industry.
The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) completed a pilot to track the distribution of meat in a cattle slaughterhouse using blockchain. This trial marked the first time that blockchain technology has been used as a regulatory tool to ensure compliance in the food industry.
Isle of Man launched sandbox-development systems designed to help firms overcome emerging regulatory hurdles.
Australia’s Commonwealth Bank issued a crypto bond for Queensland Treasury Corporation.
The Australian government’s Digital Transformation Agency has entered the blockchain discovery stage. The DTA released a blockchain overview for Australian government employees.
The South Australian government conducted an official election using the Horizon State blockchain-based voting system.
Australia’s Perth Mint, which is regulated and guaranteed by the West Australian Government launched a gold-backed Ethereum token.
Australia’s federal Government invested U.S. $500,000 to the country’s Digital Transformation Agency to explore the benefits of using blockchain for government payments.
Standards Australia received a U.S. $250,000 boost from the federal Government to promote the development of international blockchain standards.
IP Australia has been undertaking an internal blockchain discovery process since late 2017. This led to a pilot for a Smart Trade Mark project in mid 2018, and an IP rights exchange focusing on the licensing of patent rights in a decentralised marketplace in collaboration with Australian blockchain start-up Civic Ledger. As part of the trial, all patents issued in 2017 were tokenized and placed on a private Ethereum installation.
While the blockchain community has an endless capacity to debate the merits of "enterprise grade" blockchain applications, these projects show that progress, although incremental, is ongoing.
Despite the above, blockchain and decentralized market structures remain relatively untested in the global economy, and could introduce fundamentally new risks into established regulated environments. Blockchain implementation can either displace established intermediaries who policymakers have historically relied on to implement regulatory safeguards, or give those intermediaries more data and power, and it is often unclear who or how broader systemic policy changes can be implemented in new blockchain-based systems.
Consensys is a global blockchain company founded in 2014 which develops enterprise applications, invests in startups, builds developer tools, and offers blockchain education. They have a stellar Australian presence and a quality local team in Sydney.