A 41-page report on behalf of IBM states that blockchain will be at the leading edge of the “next internet” economy. It also calls on the US government to assume a leading role and work closely with industry to strengthen technological and market leadership in this area.
MIT Trust Director Dr Thomas Hardjono authored the document entitled “The Impact of Blockchain for Government: Insights on Identity, Payments, and Supply Chain”, in collaboration with the US Congressional Blockchain Caucus.
The report is based on a series of three roundtables in which IBM, MIT and members of the US Congress discussed the use of blockchain for the likes of ID purposes, payments and supply chains, government services, insurance and finance.
The participants concluded that “currently, there is a need for greater vision and leadership across government regarding the development of technology for a digital-blockchain economy”.
“The technology industry needs to collaborate closely with all levels of government, and clearly communicate the value proposition of blockchain technology and its potential role in the future economy – to address current hype about blockchain technology that can result in misinformation for lawmakers, regulators, lawmakers, and citizens alike,” the document reads.
More resources and leadership
However, firstly, “more resources need to be allocated toward this nascent yet rapidly evolving technology, much in the way the US government-funded early research into the internet in the 1970s and 1980s,” it adds. “It was this support from the government, combined with a shared vision for a US leadership role in initial Internet communications technology, that allowed the internet to flourish with broad adoption and become the foundation of the digital economy today.”
Innovation and sandboxes
IBM and MIT told members of the US Congress there is a need for government funding of blockchain innovation and regulatory sandboxes, where the state can test open ledger solutions before they are rolled out to the public.
IBM CTO Jerry Cuomo said, “it’s time for the US to start acting on blockchain integration in daily life. Blockchain is ready for government, let’s get government ready for blockchain.”
US Representative Jared Polis stressed the importance of regulation aimed at innovation and blockchain implementation, which could significantly improve the quality of life of Americans. He added that blockchain has the potential to address the “real lack of trust in centralised institutions”.
Hardjono suggested banks should be rapidly adopting the technology to make their processes far more trustworthy and efficient. If financial institutions were to share ledgers, it would reduce vulnerabilities.
“Having multiple ledgers can lead to error, fraud and inefficiencies; vulnerabilities that can be reduced by having a common view of a transaction end-to-end,” he stated. “Blockchain technology enables a shared ledger to record the history of transactions with consistency and certainty.”
He concluded by saying, “we hope that this report provides timely insight on the potential for blockchain to help government, as agencies expand their implementation of this important technology in the years to come”.