There is simply too much technological value and money being left on the table by not adopting blockchain technology for everyday businesses and government processes. This means we are likely to see rapid adoption in the coming years, with some countries already preparing themselves for this explosion in growth. This was one of the points of discussion at a recent panel held at the VIP Reception event in Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. The panel included:
- Parimal Priyadarshi, VP of Product NU10 Technologies
- Dr Alia Sadawi, Researcher at the American University of Sharjah
- Saeed Mohammed Al Hebsi, Advisor in AI and Senior Project Manager for the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE)
- Dr Mohamed Al Hemairy, Head of the Technology Transfer Office at the University of Sharjah
- Ahmed Yousif, Middle East Lead, BSV Blockchain for Government Initiative
Starting the discussion, Priyadarshi said that blockchain effectively brings ‘three T’s’ to the table – trust, traceability and transparency. He added that an estimated $1.6 trillion in the global economy is set to be unlocked by blockchain in the next seven years. Priyadarshi specifically highlighted India as a country which is well poised and is set to see its economy rapidly expand in the coming years thanks to the advantages of blockchain technology. Priyadarshi noted that blockchain is not about cryptocurrency and that the moment people start differentiating blockchain from cryptocurrencies and fad NFTs, blockchain will start receiving its due credit.
Blockchain for vaccines and the healthcare sector
While the BSV blockchain is often viewed through the lens of how it can benefit the banking and payment sectors, some of the biggest advantages of the protocol are set to be seen in the healthcare sector, said Dr Sadawi. Sadawi specifically pointed to the COVID pandemic and the value of having an immutable ledger to track and trace information and the distribution of vaccines. While global concerns around COVID have largely subsided, Sadawi said that there is still a clear use case for the technology. ‘After taking the vaccine, there are potential symptoms which might happen. These vaccines were developed by big companies, and while we appreciate their work and the resources they have put into the project, it was developed very fast.’ ‘We really appreciate the work that these companies have done but we are trying to follow up on any symptoms that people may have suffered from, whether they are normal healthy people or people with special needs. And link those symptoms to the cold supply chain of the vaccine. We want to know if a symptom occurs randomly or if it is associated with a certain company, or if it is associated with a certain lot of that company’s vaccine.’ ‘We are linking a mesh of information that helps the health sector on following up on the vaccine aftermath symptoms.’
Blockchain in governance
Saeed Mohammed Al Hebsi said that the entire United Arab Emirates has a clear strategy for how it plans to adopt and deploy blockchain technology in the coming years. This includes three key pillars:
- To be international leaders in blockchain technology;
- To create interest in blockchain and Artificial Intelligence;
- To improve government efficiency.
This includes a plan to move 50% of government processes on-chain. He added that all of the emirates are moving together on this countrywide plan, with no specific region or city leading development necessarily. Mohammed Al Hebsi said that the first step in this process was creating awareness, followed by a plan to educate and train employees within the government about using the BSV blockchain. ‘It is not only looking to follow the trend where people around the world are saying let’s move to blockchain. No, this has been a very clean and clear strategy from the government since the start.’ He added that the ultimate goal is to go paperless while increasing efficiency and decreasing costs at the local government level.
Improving customer service with blockchain
This was echoed by Dr Mohamed Al Hemairy who noted that any government has to grapple with thousands of transactions as they have many employees and clients to serve. ‘All these transactions should be traced with the goal of increasing performance, decreasing costs and having better service. Any time there are complaints from customers it always comes down to unclear fees or they are not happy with the timing, or quality of service. ‘Currently, there is no way to see where the transaction is. Why it has been delayed or if there is corruption in the process. With the blockchain, we have an open and public ledger that is also decentralised and something you can trust. Nobody can insert invalid records. This makes everyone equal and everyone knows what they have to do.’