Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, is expanding among governments and enterprises all over the world. There are many different use cases that this revolutionary technology allows. This distributed ledger technology has many advantages that businesses and institutions may use to improve their services and products.
In this article, we will cover how different countries are using the technology and how it may have an important impact in the life of many citizens in all continents. At the same time, we will analyze how enterprises are investing in blockchain and how they can increase their productivity and offer better services.
Enterprise Embraces Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is not only used by cryptocurrencies to process payments or by financial institutions that want to reduce transaction times or costs. Indeed, there are many other use cases that this technology permits in a wide variety of fields.
IBM, the technology company, and Maersk, one of the most important transport and logistic enterprises on earth, are using blockchain technology to improve their services and products.
According to Fortune, these two companies have partnered to commercialize blockchain technology. The main intention of these firms is to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency in the global supply chain. With the technology, they will help ports, customs offices, banks, suppliers and other parties involved.
With this improvement, it will be easier to track containers, have the exact information about a specific product shipped, update information in real time and more. At the same time, the industry is incurring in several loses due to delayed perishable goods or higher fees at ports if the correct documents are not presented.
Blockchain and the Shipping Industry, Image by Forbes
“We see an opportunity to increase efficiency and timeliness for cargo movement,” commented Michael J. White, Head of Global Trade Digitalization at Maersk.
IBM General Manager, Marie Wieck, has a similar point of view as Mr White. “Even small improvements can have a substantial impact on global trade,” she says.
Blockchain Energy Investments
Energy enterprises are also working with distributed ledger technology. One of the most important Austrian utility companies, Wien Energie, is also working with blockchain. According to its CIO, Astrid Schober, the company is testing blockchain technology in one project in central Vienna.
Blockchain and the Energy Industry, Image from Wien
The company seems very excited about the possibilities that this technology offers. Mr Schober believes that during this year the services may be already available for the public.
“We are testing blockchain-based services in Vienna’s Viertel Zwei, and one we have collected enough experience there, we will develop business models and bring them to the market. It may be overoptimistic but services may become available this year as we are trying to be active and build the know-how in our company fast.”
Wien Energie will be able to easily record data and transactions about its customers without relying on an intermediary. Energy companies manage an important number of transactions between enterprises and households. Some of the transactions involve big sums of money, while others just a few dollars. With more than 2 million retail and 235,000 commercial customers, Wien Energie will reduce costs, offer an improved service and have more accurate information about people’s consumption.
This utility firm is part of Enerchain, a group of European energy companies that are working together to test a common platform for electricity, gas and B2B trading.
Government Involvement in the Blockchain World
Governments are also taking advantage of the possibilities that this technology brings to the market. Governments from different countries have implemented this technology in different fields to improve governability.
For example, the city of Moscow has its own voting platform based on Ethereum. The so called “Active Citizen” program incentivizes individuals to participate in the civic life of the city. With this technology, Moscow will be the first city around the world to implement an e-voting blockchain-based system.
Active Citizen, Image from Citylab
Every single vote in the platform will become a smart contract that will be publicly viewable and transparent. With this implementation, the voting process will be secured and will eliminate, or strongly reduce, the chance for fraud or third-party interference.
Artem Ermoalev, CIO of Moscow explained:
“We are excited to improve the credibility and transparency of e-voting system in Moscow by introducing blockchain. We believe that blockchain will increase trust between the citizens and the government. We aim to hit 2 million users in the near future who are ready to influence the city life.”
One of the most important polls performed with the system was about urban and landscape design. Around half a million citizens voted for public transport routes, list of trees to be renovated first and materials to be used. At the moment, only “non-political” polls are held, but it is an important step towards politics digitalization.
The Dutch government is also experimenting with blockchain technology in a wide range of fields. The Netherlands is known as one of the friendliest countries towards Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It has a Bitcoin embassy and several blockchain start-ups operating in the country.
The government seems to follow the same path that its citizens. The Dutch administration is working with Blockchainpilots, a fin-tech start-up that is helping institutions to test blockchain projects. As of December 2017, the government was testing over 30 projects in areas such as taxing, identity, logistics and autonomous vehicles.
Dutch Government Blockchain Projects
The government wants to enhance the knowledge about Blockchain within the participating organizations and to develop use cases for future applications of the technology.
Among the projects that are being developed we find the followings:
- Amsterdam is working in a more efficient and simple way to apply for a personal health care budget than the current complex financial and administrative process.
- The health care institute is building a prototype on the Ethereum platform to create a clear overview of authorizations in the health care process.
- Rotterdam is developing a blockchain process to collect tourist taxes more efficiently.
- Eindhoven is developing a blockchain use case for speeding up the process of land parcel transfers.
“We did not do this alone, because I think the key ingredient of the success of our pilot projects is that we were able to create a large network of technical experts,” said Koen Lukas Hartog, Program manager of Blockchainpilots.
On March 8th, the European Commission released a statement in which it explains its plans to create a blockchain hub in the European continent.
“Today’s Action Plan envisages to enable the financial sector to make use of the rapid advances in new technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and cloud services. […] This will benefit consumers, investors, banks and new market players alike.”
There are many other enterprises and governments out there working with this technology. This is just the beginning of a long series of technological improvements in enterprises and governmental institutions. While businesses work and invest in order to have more money, they also help the technology to be developed.
Even when governments do not invest in blockchain technology for the monetary returns, they are helping to shape a better society, modernized and efficient.
Blockchain technology will make people’s life better. With more efficient governments and enterprises, products will have cheaper prices and administrations will use less resources to sustain their structures. That will allow governments to reduce taxes and citizens to pay less for products and services offered by enterprises.