Blockchains and Bitcoins

Posted on January 8, 2018


If you don’t know what blockchain is, how it works, and its potential, you should start learning about it now. Many know it as the technology behind cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. But it can also be applied to various other kinds of transactions and services through decentralized, distributed and secure ledgers used for continuous recordkeeping.
In May 2017, National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) released a report calling blockchain the “next big transformational technology” in government. “This is a very big deal. It’s so much more dramatic than [when the internet was launched],” says Eric Sweden, NASCIO’s program director for enterprise architecture and governance. “It’s going to have a huge impact on how we do business, accounting, auditing — anything that has a data lineage to it.” (The Next Big Technology to Transform Government, Governing Magazine)
Governments across the world are using blockchain to improve public services:

  • The state of Illinois is looking into how blockchain can modernize outdated IT software and systems or increase operational efficiency. They have been investigating blockchain potential over the last two years including several pilot projects. (StateScoop)
  • The Brazilian government is exploring the possibility of using a mobile app based on the Ethereum Blockchain network that allows people to submit votes. (Coin Telegraph)
  • The Georgian National Agency of Public Registry is applying blockchain technology to purchases and sales of land titles, registration of new land titles, demolition of property, mortgages and rentals, as well as notary services. Other collaborations aimed at creating blockchain-based land-titling services are being created in Sweden, Honduras and Cook County in Chicago. (Forbes)
  • Dubai plans to make the majority of city documentation powered by smart contracts by the year 2020, including visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals. Pretty much anything that requires paperwork will end up on blockchain. (Forbes)
  • The United Nations is using blockchain in a refugee camp to make cash-based transfers faster, cheaper and more secure. Refugees purchase food from local supermarkets in the camp by using a scan of their eye instead of cash, vouchers or e-cards. (World Food Programme)

you guys aren't ready for that yet
Israel is considering a national cryptocurrency that would mirror the value of a shekel. This could reduce tax evasion and allow people to exchange currency immediately (as opposed to traditional bank transfers that can take several days). Central banks in China, Japan and Sweden, are looking to do the same.
There are over 80 BTMs (bitcoin teller machine) in New York City, mostly found in corner bodegas. These most common use of the machines is to allow people to invest in bitcoins, but they have also created an alternate way for immigrants to send remittances. (Bitcoin Is Coming to Your Bodega, CityLab)

Learn about Blockchain

Want to understand how blockchain works? Dr. Jonathan Reichental, Palo Alto’s Chief Information Officer, has a free 1.5 hour course on called Blockchain: Beyond the Basics.

And check out this podcast ‘How Blockchain Works’ from How Stuff Works:

Additional reading

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