Professor Bill Buchanan is well renowned across Scotland for his visionary blockchain expertise, and he’s not alone, indeed Napier University is demonstrating how effectively they have a handle on the latest, cutting edge developments powering the tech sector.
Liam Bell is the Research Fellow leading the ‘Blockpass Identity Lab‘, a £600k collaboration with Hong Kong based Blockpass, intended to ‘explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers.’
Blockchain Cloud Identity
This is a massive, massive growth opportunity for Scotland. In terms of identifying the hot tech growth sectors, one of the most powerful techniques is to define the intersection between individual trends, in this case the blockchain, digital identity and the Cloud.
For example Blockstack offers this proposed definition of Blockchain Identity:
A blockchain identity (or blockchain ID) is a generic term used to refer to any identity on the blockchain. Users can have one blockchain identity or many and can register them just like one would register domain names or accounts on Facebook or Twitter.
BraveNewCoin writes about the ‘Blockchain Cloud’, exploring further integration between the blockchain and the computing infrastructure of the Internet. Cloud providers like Microsoft offer ‘BaaS’ – Blockchain as a Service.
Foundations for Digital Transformation
The best way to think about this type of technology is that it plays a keystone role for all aspects of the digital economy. It’s not a point solution to one specific scenario, for example Bitcoin leverages the blockchain to facilitate a secure digital currency, but it’s only one of a myriad of potential applications.
The critical role of Identity is easy to quantify – Government programs like Gov.UK Verify are the early steps to better join up government systems via Identity as the common mechanism, so that access to online government services is much smoother and quicker, but again that’s only one small step (on a journey towards Self-Sovereign Identity).
Shocard is an example of a vendor providing this type of technology, highlighting how it can be used for a multitude of possible scenarios, from online government through exciting new FinTech scenarios.
Digital Economy Infrastructure
Another key perspective is to consider the technology as a wholesale ‘upgrade’ to the Internet itself, such that these powerful features are built right into it, in the same way HTTP is the common protocol for sharing web information.
For example as Namecoin describes the DNS is the current backbone identity system, it translates domain names into IP addresses. It works very effectively but it’s really quite an old technology and thus is ideal for this type of upgrade. In this article they highlight many benefits including those for democracy:
With standard DNS, the digital phonebook can falsely claim “there’s no website here”; this is what SOPA would have mandated in the U.S. Dot-Bit cannot easily be censored, for the same reasons that no one can easily prevent you from spending bitcoins.
In conclusion we can also identify applications that offer great value to the practical challenges that the Scottish Government faces today.
In particular sharing information between different, isolated IT systems is still by far the main impediment to delivering integrated online services, and again is a challenge that Blockchain Identity is ideal for solving. In his Linkedin blog Blair Kjenner describes a model for a ‘Blockchain Data Exchange’ for exactly this purpose.
Another blog builds on the principle for industry scenarios such as Healthcare, so it’s clear there is a goldmine of opportunity areas that can be exploited by harnessing these exciting trends.