Big data and analytics generated worldwide revenues of $136 billion in 2016, and this is expected to grow to $187 billion by 2019, according to research firm IDC. That’s believable, right. But, consider this figure: $3 trillion. That’s the annual cost of bad data. No, not worldwide. This figure is for the US alone! Now, that’s a problem worth solving, right?
Exponential growth in data recording and management costs is something that all businesses, organisations, industries and governments have to contend with. No wonder then that we witnessed tremendous and growing interest in blockchain last year.
In 2018, it wouldn’t be surprising to see blockchain being aggressively implemented across industries, including banking, finance, trading, logistics, healthcare, security, supply chain, real estate and governance.
As with any new technology, particularly one that’s highly disruptive, blockchain has been met with excitement and scepticism in equal measure. While some countries have provided a favourable backdrop, others have created massive roadblocks. It’s clear that tomorrow’s blockchain innovation hubs are where governments encourage this technology today. Here’s a look into some of them.
Countries That Support Blockchain Innovation
The US has usually been at the forefront of technological development. Not so with blockchain. This is probably due to regulatory hurdles, which have crushed the blockchain ecosystem. Another country facing the same roadblock is China.
The blockchain innovation movement is being led by unexpected candidates.
Here, the government is supporting innovation to implement blockchain-based services in various sectors. Dubai is aiming to become the blockchain capital of the world and plans to roll out 20 blockchain-based initiatives in 2018, for improving government services in areas such as road and transport, education, energy and healthcare.
Remember the Silicon Valley, and what it meant for the IT revolution? Now we have Crypto Valley, except that it’s in Switzerland, a country that has provided just the right political and regulatory support for blockchain-based start-ups to flourish. Zug, a lakeside town in Switzerland, has come to be known as Crypto Valley, attracting huge foreign investments in the blockchain space. It is home to some prominent blockchain start-ups, like Status, ShapeShift, Bancor, iProtus and Melonport.
As early as January 2016, the UK government had released plans to use blockchain to “reduce fraud, corruption, error and the cost of paper-intensive processes.” The UK government’s BaaS (blockchain-as-a-service) is already being used to track welfare paychecks and disburse student loan grants. The nation’s technology development agency, Innovate UK, is continuing to support blockchain-based technologies with a call for funding submissions for 28 March, 2018 on projects in the fields of emerging technologies including distributed ledger. With a history of looking for new ways that blockchain can be used in society, Innovate UK gave 248,000 to a blockchain start up to develop a cross-border financial transaction solution. Last year the agency asked for pitches on how blockchain tools can be used in emerging health technologies.
Estonia, which has an e-residency programme that allows people from other countries to become digital citizens and register their business here, is now working on a national cryptocurrency dubbed ESTcoin. There are talks of the first-ever government-backed ICO for the token sale of ESTcoin.
Not wanting to be left behind, Singapore has also progressed as a hub for blockchain innovation. The Monetary Authority of Singapore also already announced plans to tokenise the country’s currency on the Ethereum Network. The government has also allocating funds equivalent of over US$225 million for blockchain R&D focused on integrating blockchain into government and financial services.
While there is a healthy interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies among individuals, the nation’s institutions have yet to recognise the huge advantages that blockchain can offer and to embrace what the future holds for us all. It’s good to see the University of Nicosia (UNIC) taking the lead and offering education in blockchain technology and digital currencies, and even accepting bitcoin for payments. It is currently calling for two post-doctorate positions in distributed ledger technology and smart token corporate governance. The island nation is perfectly positioned to become a key player in the innovation and adoption of this revolutionary technology.