"Talks about the uncertain promise of blockchain"

On the 21st of January 2021, the BLING project organized a webinar on the OECD paper 'The Uncertain Promise of Blockchain for Government'. Together with experts from the field, author Juho Lindman discussed this paper. Almost 50 participants joined the webinar.

Blockchain technology, when specifically and appropriately applied, may hold significant potential for the transformation and innovation of public policies and services. The OECD paper contains an overview of where we stand with this technology.

Juho Lindman started by summarizing some of the highlights from the report. Despite the hype there is a clear lack of success in terms of real use cases with actual users. In the report he listed ten myths why blockchain is difficult to succeed. Important learnings are furthermore to be gotten from pilots.

Tom Kettels of the EU Blockchain project TOKEN, stressed the importance of ecosystems and that real collaboration is needed to proceed. We need to learn from existing projects, but also from projects that ‘fail’. He sees the combination of AI and blockchain as very important in the future. For the public sector it is extra complicated due to the disruptive nature of blockchain (rule of law etcetera). Also important is to address the right challenges.

Andreas Hartl, head of the AI division at the ministry of economic affairs and energy of Germany, also sees it is important to bring AI and blockchain together. Furthermore blockchain is useful when there are many actors involved. In the end the main thing is to have a tech neutral approach and to focus on value. End users needs to be involved and incremental approaches are needed most (as opposed to disruption). Learning is important both from success factors and from failure.

Peter Verkoulen, manager of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, talks about the need  to be flexible and how the broadening of ecosystems is necessary. It is furthermore not all about technology, governance and legal aspects are just as important. Use cases are needed for pioneering and learning/experimenting.

Ben Welby, Policy Analyst in the OECD’s Digital Government and Data Unit made some remarks around the future of blockchain. He sees that blockchain had a lower profile in conversations in 2020 however, where Distributed Ledger Technology is viable, valuable and vital teams are delivering, and will continue to do so. Rebuilding trust in government is important. Maybe cross-border applications make the promise more certain? What is possible can be seen for example in eIDAS, with identity being recognized by different governments. The future will show whether we’re going to start seeing evidence of knotty public sector problems being solved because of what decentralized technologies can provide.

Shimeng Zhou analyst at Sweco in Sweden was the moderator of this webinar. 

Presentations can be found below