Blockchain Archives - Digital Scotland
Digital Government Transformation Blueprint: HM Land Registry
Category: Digital Transformation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

The UK Government’s Land Registry documented their digital strategy plan here; this can form a general digital transformation template model for any government agencies, and also provides specific innovation insights for other land registry organizations.

The first simple component of the open government policy template in action is the first paragraph defining the document itself as available via an open source licence.

Brilliant at the Basics: Case Management Digitization %

It’s an ideal baseline for a maturity model building reference case study, particularly as their headline theme of ‘Brilliant at the Basics’ is ideal for characterizing of the first step on the ladder.

The Land Registry case workers process 20,000 applications per day, with 650,000 received via post annually. Via a set of ‘Customer Targets’ they specify KPIs for the response rate levels expected of them for handling these, as well as ultimately a customer satisfaction rating for doing so.

The basic building block of Digital Government is the digitization of core business workflows like these claims, and the Registry reported an 81% level of automation in 2016, with a target of achieving 95% by 2022.

Having detailed Case Management targets like the Land Registry is thus the ideal end state of a basic level of digital maturity.

Digital Innovations

Similarly they also state ‘Digital Targets’ for their performance goals in a second main area of focus of digital innovations – What might they offer in the future that they don’t currently, and how might this benefits their customers and ‘disrupt’ their sector?

Digital Targets build on the previous KPIs, such as defining a metric of ‘we will average at least 99.6% availability for external e-services during published service hours’.

It also identifies specific technological advances and the new digital services they might make possible, for example launching ‘the Digital Mortgage service to create, sign and register a mortgage for approved partners‘.

A key component of this focus is the inclusion of specific key technology trends, most notably Open Data and the Blockchain. Highlighting that:

HM Land Registry holds a rich variety of publishable data of potential interest to individuals, customers, governments, lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions. Every plot of registered land has a unique register title with corresponding number and plan. Information stored relates to people, places, rights and restrictions.

the Land Registry describes how they publish a number of open data sets and highlights the essential dynamic, how these enable new digital services, such as MapSearch.

Other data sets include Price Paid Data and monthly Transaction Data, as well as the UK House Price Index.

Digital Street 2030

This all culminates towards their pinnacle digital initiative ‘Digital Street’, “groundbreaking research that is exploring how land registration might work in 2030”, and is also how they express their highest stretch target of pioneering a world-class capability:

We will then apply real-life scenarios to demonstrate how a fully geospatially enabled digital register might revolutionise future property transactions, including using Blockchain technology, putting HM Land Registry at the forefront of global land registration innovation.

Digital Street is a new prototype registry that will enable this new real-time, machine-readable information platform.

The goals are to harness AI and other emergent tech and apply them towards impacts like improving the conveyancing process. Here is where they see the potential for Blockchain in particular:

New technologies such as Blockchain might enable the register to be distributed among trusted parties such as lenders and conveyancers, giving them the ability to operate and update in a secure and tamper-proof manner. We will explore the benefits of this alternative approach to managing a digital land register.

Digital Business Model Canvas

Their digital plan also outlines how to build a ‘digital business model canvas’ – Before web sites and code the team should have a clear understanding of the who, what and how of the new digital services.

This is an ideal early ‘forming’ process of bringing a team together, and can be populated from landscape reviews of what other similar organizations are doing. For example comparable initiatives include the Future Cities Catapult Land Information Platform, and in Estonia E-Estonia e-land register.

A key section to review is on page 14 where they describe their approach to exploring and formulating a customer/partner segmentation framework for expressing these as ‘digital ecosystems’, such as clustering groups like FinTech, LawTech and PropTech. Jargonistic yes but actually very helpful for populating a business model canvas and planning related activities.

The primary ‘value chain’ built atop the Land Registry is naturally all related processes: Conveyancing, property building, property selling, .. etc. This implements particular workflows across those defined groups and there is no doubt there is still much opportunity for better digital services between them. Digital business model canvas planning is the ideal way to draw out these service ideas.

Identity-Enabled Digital Services

What’s immediately notable is the involvement of Identity technologies too, the two are practically inseparable.

For example this enabling role of new digital service innovations is effectively highlighted in the UK Government’s HM Land Registry digital business plan, in which they describe a future intention of:

“We will continue to enhance and expand our existing e-enabled services, such as our innovative Digital Mortgage service that uses secure identity assurance techniques to enable a customer to sign their mortgage deed digitally. Across all stages of digital service development, the needs of the user and a drive for speed and simplicity will be at the heart of our design.

  • we will launch a Developer service to provide a digital online lodgement and approval of estate plans and template leases and transfers.
  • we will launch a Digital Transfer service to create, sign and register a transfer of a registered title.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark believes these Digital Mortgages could help reduce fraud.

The role of Identity highlights services / organizations such as Gov.UK Verify. For example in this PropertySolvers article the author explores the scenario, in particular noting the HM Land Registry ambitions:

“Graham Farrant, chief executive and chief land registrar at the HMLR reported on testing the Sign Your Mortgage Deed service for remortgaging homeowners.

The mortgage deed will be produced and signed as part of a largely disintermediated digital conveyance process legitimately recorded at the Land Registry. Identity assurance will be provided by the GOV.UK Verify service.”

This is especially notable because it is a significant technological leap, to accept Identity-related authorizations from a third-party rather than directly yourself, and this concept is currently experiencing teething issues, with Verify receiving considerable negative press for adoption and user abandonment issues.

For example the Law Gazette writes specifically on this relevant to this evolution of e-conveyancing, highlighting the basic evolution to online service is essential but the choice of Verify adds an element of doubt.

Blockchain Registries

New technology innovations provide a further stimulus through introducing new capabilities that weren’t previously possible. Where Open Data makes information more accessible and programmable, the Blockchain provides a more secure transaction platform.

Given the Blockchain is fundamentally a registry system then naturally all registry-related activities are a fertile area for its application.

As Anglia Research describes it is specifically intended as a ledger system for enabling and recording asset transfers, and CoinDesk provides this detailed examination of the use case, highlighting how one aspect of natural disasters is the potential loss of all paper based versions of these records, avoidable through encoding them on the Blockchain.

A number of countries are already blazing a trail in this area, including the UK, Sweden and Georgia each trialling implementations at different stages; it’s estimated the Swedish adoption could save taxpayers €100m. Chromaway, the supplier behind the Georgian system, discuss the scenario in more technical detail through this presentation, and this paper ‘A blockchain­ based property ownership recording system‘.

In Scotland

Scotland operates their own registry organization through ‘RoS’ – Registers of Scotland.

At 400 years old the Registers of Scotland is the world’s oldest public land register, but today act as a beacon of excellence in harnessing technology modernization towards this goal, for all of Scotland’s public sector to follow.

RoS has a range of customers including solicitors, estate agents, construction companies, central government and local authorities among others, whose requirements provide the focus of their Digital Transformation program.

This includes better utlizing their data to personalize online services, like producing bespoke reports for clients such as the Royal Bank of Scotland case study, which describes how they provide weekly reports to eliminate the considerable manual workfload the bank mortgage team faced when monitoring their applications.

The registers are central to a range of industry workflows, for example the Development Plan Approval is used for new housing developments, and they have improved this process by working collaboratively with key users like house builders and solicitors, as described in video interviews with Taylor Wimpey and Gillespie MacAndrew.

They also have in place the basics of online engagement tools, such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts, as well as a well stocked, nicely produced Youtube library.

Their blog provides a peek Inside RoS, and a web library in the style of Gov.uk offering literature such as new deed plans.

Open Data Mapping

Their strategies are more or less identical including the focus on open data mapping as the flagship digital initiative, the launch of ScotLIS bringing a similar capability to market as Digital Street.

Open data mapping and blockchain technologies are each alone hugely powerful technologies to exploit, and with such a natural synergy given the role of ‘trusted ledgers’ and registry organization, when combined through this scenario will prove especially

There is considerable potential for other related agencies too. For example the delightful juxtapose of such ancient documents being transposed to such modern digital facilites, like the St Giles Cathedral, also highlight how this content would be ideal for ‘digital tourism’ too – Showcasing this heritage to the broader world to attract more online attention to Scotland and ultimately visitors too.

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Napier University – Blockchain Cloud Identity pioneer
Category: Digital Transformation,Technology Innovation Author: Digital Scotland Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

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.

Microsoft also wants to leverage the blockchain to secure your identity, and VentureBeat writes about how empowering users with control over their own data is another killer blockchain scenario.

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:

Censorship-Resistance

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.

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Thriving After Brexit – Scotland Should Reboot on the Blockchain
Category: Keynote Author Author: Digital Scotland Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0
Guest article from Don and Alex Tapscott

While the UK and the world grapple with the implications of Brexit, a technological revolution is quietly unfolding that offers a glimmer of hope to Scotland, regarding if it votes to stay in the UK or not.

We’re not talking about the social web, cloud computing, or artificial intelligence. We’re talking about the blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. This technology represents nothing less than the second era of the Internet and it holds far-reaching opportunities for Europe. If wielded correctly, it could provide the foundation for a more prosperous Europe. It is also the Scotland’s best hope at fulfilling the “Leavers” lofty promises of a more global and dynamic Britain.

The blockchain is a global distributed ledger or a vast database running on millions of devices, a third of them in Europe, where anyone can move, store, and manage anything of value—money, deeds, patents, clinical trials, academic degrees, and even votes—with unprecedented security, privacy, and inclusion. Trust derives not from powerful intermediaries like banks or governments, but from clever code and mass collaboration. For 40 years, Scotland has had the Internet of information. Now, it has the Internet of value within reach to transform the socioeconomic power grid for the better.

Specifically, there are three big opportunities for the Scotland. The first is to rewire the European economy for innovation. The blockchain will not simply disrupt every industry – it will dramatically lower the barriers to business creation. Anyone can build value in the global economy. The second is to reconfigure government for greater transparency and accountability. The European Union should do far more at less cost, and hand more autonomy to its members. The third is to design the preconditions for everyone to succeed. Rather than re-distributing wealth, we could pre-distribute wealth, democratizing the means by which citizens generate wealth in the first place.

Let’s fix the firm by replacing centralized models with open networked enterprises that leverage peer-to-peer payment mechanisms and reputation systems, global blockchain IPOs and digital smart contracts. The democratization of value creation (through entrepreneurship) and value participation (through distributed ownership) could kick-start growth across Europe. London has already been bold. The Bank of England, the city’s biggest banks, and many entrepreneurs have shown global leadership on blockchain. Now, more than ever, they must innovate to ensure London’s preeminence as a global financial hub. Business leaders on the continent should also take note at the city’s success to date. But leadership is also anyone’s opportunity.

Let’s reinvent government for a new era of legitimacy. First, elected officials must rekindle the public’s trust in political institutions. With blockchain, voters could know with 100% certainty who contributed to a campaign or supported it. Second, everyone has a right to participate in government. With the blockchain, citizens could advocate for sealing government action in a public, unalterable and searchable record, using that data as a platform for greater engagement.

Third, everyone must have equal protection under the law, including refugees fleeing violence and persecution. Finally, a blockchain system could cost-effectively engage all residents and provide equal access to public services and social security. These four principles are already enshrined in the United Nation universal declaration of human rights. Blockchain provides the tools to make these aspirations reality. The survival of Scotland is at stake.

What better time to fix a broken monetary system than in the midst of currency crisis? Already the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the Bank of England have begun experimentation with digital currencies. The benefits are numerous: killing cash would reduce crime and improve regulation, because digital money is more traceable and harder to forge than printed versions. Further, central bankers could manage monetary policy and monitor risk in the financial system. Imagine international commerce with less fraud, friction, and leakage. It’s time to stop the tinkering and start the transformation.

It’s time for Digital Sterling and Euro-COIN.

All Europeans ought to have an equal shot at prosperity. But how? First, European leaders must understand that prosperity requires universal financial inclusion. In Romania, over a third of the population lacks a bank account. Shockingly, 1.5 million people in Britain are unbanked today. Inaccurate and incomplete land titles similarly erode confidence and impede upward mobility. With blockchain technologies, we can register property rights and provide broad access to basic financial services.

Second, Europe should be a leader in reinventing digital rights management systems to ensure content creators get paid first, fast, and fairly. Imogen Heap’s London-based Mycelia is a good model. Artists post their music containing a smart contract on the blockchain and the software protects their rights and collects royalties, ensuring that everyone is fairly compensated. Finally, Europe can be a pioneer in enabling individuals, rather than corporations, to collect, control, and monetize their own personal data on the blockchain.

None of this will be easy. The European Union urgently needs a new social contract with its member states. The United Kingdom and Scotland must do the same with its citizens. Only then can they chart a new economic path for the digital age. As with the major paradigm shifts that preceded it, the blockchain will create winners and losers. But if we do this right, a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Scotland, Europe and world are within reach.

Blockchain Revolution

Don Tapscott and his son Alex are authors of a new book: Blockchain Revolution – How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World

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A Sovereign Identity for a Sovereign Scotland?
Category: Technology Innovation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

Digital Identity refers to the various usernames and log-on procedures we use to interact with web sites and other digital services. The Scottish Government has defined it to be essential to their goals of building a World Class Digital Government, with key goals including:

Develop a common, single sign-in and authentication process for businesses seeking access to online support services and information;

Work with stakeholders, privacy interests and members of the public to develop a robust, secure and trustworthy mechanism by which an individual member of the public can demonstrate their identity online.

Adopting a ‘Self-Sovereign Identity’ system offers the potential for Scotland to not only meet these technical goals, but to pioneer an entirely new model of 21st century Digital Democracy.

Self-Sovereign Digital Identity

Michael Gorriz explains how Identity is a universal function, one that spans across government, banking and every other online service that we use.

Government identity programs, such as Gov.UK Verify, seek to leverage this interconnectedness through linking their authentication systems with others like banks to streamline the procedure from a users perspective, an approach known as ‘federated identity’.

As the diagram from this Tieto article describes it can be seen as the first step in a maturity journey, an improvement on from centralized model which means a duplicated identity procedure for each and every web site.

The article introduces ‘Self-Sovereign Identity’ and positions it as the ultimate conclusion to this maturity journey.

Described in detail in this ID2020 white paper as the name suggests the primary feature is an identity mechanism owned and controlled by the user themselves. Martin Kuppinger writes for Computer Weekly how the blockchain can be utilized to provide the required integrous system and how legal requirements like GPDR provide one context for its value, meeting the user controlled data obligations.

Blockchain-enabled Liquid Democracy

A key technology that could underpin digital voting is the Blockchain, what has been called ‘Block the Vote‘. The Market Mogul provides an overview of the role it could play in enabling this capability including the challenges, with Venture Beat describing how it could help tackle voter fraud, with the next major leap being defined as ‘Liquid Democracy‘.

Considerable technical research has been conducted to explore this scenario, such as this analysis from Plymouth University, this paper from Bitcoin specialist Weusecoins, as well as Tufts University, and the EU has also researched the possibility.

What is especially exciting about the trend is that the scope extends much further than just facilitating the digitization of the voting method, other experts have defined how this keystone would lead to a broader evolution of democracy itself.

Introduced in this short presentation the fundamental principles are described as:

  • Every individual human being is the original source of their own Identity.
  • Identity is not an administrative mechanism for others to control.
  • Each individual is the root of their own identity, and central to its adminstration.
  • The role of names, citizenship, licences and other credentials should be distinct.

In short it places control and ownership of identity in the hands of the users themselves, not a third party like banks or the government, setting in place the keystone foundation for an entirely citizen-centric Digital Democracy.

Via his blog tech industry luminary Phil Windley describes the launch of the Sovrin Network, the world’s first self-sovereign identity (SSI) network, intended to implement the technologies and these principles, and the scope of potential for its implementation in Scotland is quite profound.

With passions for the Scottish Independence vote still running high, and the dramatic scenes in Catalonia this weekend demonstrating just how vulnerable the paper-based ballot voting system is, these advances offer the tools to enable 21st century democracy through the use of blockchain technology for online voting, empowering the citizens directly with their own means of expressing political will.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s the full potential for massive social and political change that will provide the fuel for the equally large Scottish appetite for pioneering progressive disruption.

This Blockchainhub presentation The Future of Democracy asks the questions that begin to probe the nature of this profound transformation, proposing in the future we won’t be citizens of nation states but of blockchains, with their underlying constitutions being defined through blockchain consensus protocols.

 

Alex Tapscott describes Blockchain Democracy as Government of the People, the CitizenLab describes how it could transform the face of democracy, and ethereum.org offers a guide for How to Build a Democracy on the Blockchain. This FastCompany article describes the background that led to the Democracy.Earth initiative.

These are questions being answered by visionaries such as Alex Tapscott. In his Forbes article Alex describes Blockchain Democracy as Government Of The People, By The People, For The People, and how the blockchain provides all the essential foundations, such as integrity and transparency of all democratic and government transactions.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. In other words, the right to an identity that has inherent value that can be hashed onto the blockchain at birth. We can aggregate other aspects of identity—diplomas, passport, driver’s license, social security card, voter ID—that currently exist in multiple databases into a single ledger and receive integrated services without multiple check-ins. We would own all our data and could decide how to deploy it. Our votes would have value.

 

This is a vision quickly becoming entirely realizable as blockchain technologies and thought leadership charges ahead. The CitizenLab describes how it could transform the face of democracy, ethereum.org offers a guide for How to Build a Democracy on the Blockchain, and this FastCompany article describes the background that led to the Democracy.Earth initiative.

So the opportunity for Scotland is simply one of implementation; the technological leaps have been made and the best practice blueprints documented and shared. We have talked the talk of becoming a world leading digital nation, now we need to walk the walk.

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A More Trusted World: Distributed, Reactive and Holistic
Category: Keynote Author Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

Guest article by Professor Bill Buchanan OBE, PhD, FBCS

Don’t you just love it when your council is able to track you down when you don’t pay your parking ticket, but that they send you a letter saying “Dear Home Owner” when they are compiling their list for a voting register?

Sometime, soon, we need to admit that many of the methods that we use have no place in the 21st Century, and to be still signing a piece of paper to prove our identity is as archaic as using a horse and cart for our journey to work. Even the concept of an online form is a throw-back to our old ways. Many of the security problems we have, too, such as phishing and data breaches, are caused because we run our data over untrusted infrastructures.

21st Century: World Class Digital Government

Our world moves on, and Industry 4.0 is all about building a new world, and one which has trust embedded into its core. We thus need to have ways of focusing on the people that matter – our citizens – and build a world around them, rather than one which builds system which provides very few rights of our citizens. Often the systems and procedures are built around the methods we used in the 20th Century, and are often still bureaucratic and inefficient, where there are few opportunities to actually take any form of control of their provision. Our public sector, too, often has a hard shell around itself, and which often doesn’t want to expose its inner working, or have procedures for tracing problems – it is risk-averse, and often protects itself.

We have very few interactions with our public servants in a meaningful digital way, and there are few ways for us to sustain anything that could trace our route through issues. There’s a feeling too that we shouldn’t criticise something that is “free”, but it is our tax which pays for public services, and it is there to support our citizens.

A new model

Sometime, soon, we need to implement public services which truly put the citizen at the core, and which move towards a more distributed model of patient care and which is pre-emptive than that reactive:

For health and well-being we need to look at ways to understand the complex pathways that patients take and use digital technologies to improve their care and thus share information which benefits them:

At the core of the building of this new world is trust, both digital trust (rights and identity) and human trust (strong governance and useful services). Only with this can we build an infrastructure which can share information across different parts of the public sector, and not to be seen as something as governments spying on individuals (as Big Brother in 1984):

So with the forthcoming GDPR directive coming into force in May 2018, we now have a key driver to change our approaches, as our existing methods of providing public services often has little in the way of digital engagement for our citizens.

In the UK, to still have a paper-based health record for our children – the Red Book – seems like a lost opportunity to gather data on the health and well-being of our children, and for parents to understand their development. For this to still be in a paper form is a massive missed opportunity for the creation of a personal health record which recorded your child’s well-being, and thus to be proactive with their health.

Some cities, though, such as London, have adopted the e-Red Book for every child born. For it not to be implemented in Scotland – where the creators of the e-Red Book are based and where they employ their developers – is something that I cannot understand.

Building a new world?

Our public sector needs to start to work together in a consistent digital manner, and open themselves up for increased engagement with citizens and thus support the development of new ways of working.

So, how do we build a new world, which replaces bureaucracy and where, as a citizen, you have rights and can have some control your own world? Well, we must get rid of paper forms … and their sibling … electronic forms. Why must we keep entering details of ourselves and reapply for things that should be our rights? In a new world, we create trusted identities, attributes and roles, and we define governance policies which map these to signed attestations.

If we thus trust the signer, then we trust the attestation. For example, Bob Smith (aka Robert Smith, Rab Smith, and Bobby Smith) has one trusted identity but is known by other names. He has Type 2 diabetes and which gives him rights the discounted medicine from Boots. Along with this he is over 60 years old and is eligible to free bus trips on the buses in Edinburgh. Our new world creates a smart contract on a blockchain, and which is known for its requirements and how it is enacted. Bob now has to get a signed attestation from his GP and then present this to the smart contract, and then the next time he goes into Boots, he will get his discount:

And so you say, but Bob has just revealed to the world that he has diabetes! Well, there’s no need to store the attestation on the blockchain, all that is required is a signed hashed version of the attestation, and that the actual attestation and its details can be presented to the smart contract from the entity which governs the implementation of NHS contracts. In there is a complete audit trail for the implementation of the service and an immediate enactment of the contract. The smart contract knows, too, how long Bob’s attestation lasts for and will enact the discount as long as the GP can verify his diabetes. Another smart contract then monitors for claims and prompts Bob to go back to see his GP (or another trusted entity) to renew his attestation.

Conclusions

So for all the government officials that rain against cryptography, they are not truly seeing the future. As long as we enact our 21st Century using the methods of the 20th Century, I will believe that we will fall further behind other nations of the world in creating a new economy, which brings both social and economic benefit but also puts the health and well-being of our citizens at the core of everything.

When I started to promote the ideas around the of technology I was often told that “My Mum couldn’t use that”, but “My Mum” is the best advocate of the iPad I have ever met, so to say that access to technology is a barrier, has gone. We now need to provide an environment for our public services which will allow our next generation to build on, so go ahead and build it …

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CivTech and Wallet.Services – Driving Blockchain Innovation in Government
Category: Featured Digital Scots Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

CivTech

The ScotChain17 presentation from Wallet.Services is introduced by Alexander Holt of the Scottish Government’s CivTech Accelerator.

Alexander describes the challenges of slow and bureaucratic government procurement, and how their initiative is intended to speed things through a more innovative approach. Working around a number of shared challenges they then award contracts to for the best ideas.

CivTech works across the public sector to offer them this more dynamic procurement approach for agencies that know they need this new approach for key challenges.

Wallet.Services

Alexander also describes how CivTech has enabled the government to act quickly on its Digital Strategy goals – For example one being an intention to explore and master Blockchain technologies for public sector benefit. As part of the CivTech Cybersecurity challenge pitching Wallet.Services presented this opportunity and were contracted around a developed government requirement for a Blockchain Strategy, then procured through the Digital Marketplace.

[d12-global title=”Vendor Profile”]Read more about Featured Digital Scot Wallet.Services in their Vendor Profile.[/d12-global]

Digital Native Public Services

Peter Ferry of Wallet describes how despite the hype of the tech market we still live in a mostly analogue world, where government digital services are most just the ‘web page lipstick on the paper process pig’.

Highlighting the Equifax personal data loss Peter describes how we’re still at quite an immature state of online security for digital services, and asks the basic but fundamental question of why this is still happening despite our technological advances.

He arrives at the very nature of Government IT systems and their implementation models, in short how each department operates their own silo and at best they offer web interfaces to these applications. These silos are the same cause of why there is so still so much paper-based manual procedure, it provides the “middleware” that exchanges information between them. The financial and customer experience consequences of this manual bureaucracy are as ever huge for the public sector, and so major leaps in joining up systems offers massive potential for efficiency savings.

Hybrid Blockchain Platforms

The core idea at the heart of the solution and thus Wallet.Services concept is the use of DLT (Distributed Ledger Technologies, like Blockchain for example) Smart Contracts and Oracle technologies to facilitate new models for secure data exchange.

Like the public sector makes use of ‘Private Clouds’, and other different permutations of Cloud Security model, Peter envisages a similar approach to DLT platforms, where governments deploy hybrid combinations of open and private features, to meet their regulatory needs while also enabling the critical sharing functionality that addresses the root issue.

Become a Blockchain Builder

A tremendously powerful effect that Scotland can cultivate is one of an accelerating ecosystem, as CivTech is intending to build. New venture ideas and digital government apps that build on these existing investments and capabilities will start to engender a ‘network effect’, an amplification of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Not only would Scotland enjoy more efficient public sector IT systems but this adoption would finance a sector with massive global growth potential – All governments globally experience the same root issues and will adopt the same Blockchain solutions to address them.

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Banking as a Platform – Blueprint for Scotland’s Blockchain Economy
Category: Featured Digital Scots Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

Furthermore there is the potential for disruption through entirely innovative new business models, those described as ‘Platforms’, marketplace models that leverage the crowd effect, such as Airbnb, Uber taxis and many more.

This summary guide (32 page PDF) of the 2017 MIT Platform Strategy Summit provides a detailed discussion of the concept, exploring the dynamics further via their web site in an article that explains how Airbnb will always be a better business than Uber.

Again it is the intersection of these technology and business model trends that offers enormous potential. Omri Barzilay writes on Forbes that the blockchain could be utilized to power next generation versions of these Sharing Economy businesses, making it cheaper to create and operate an online platform; for example, transactions could be coordinated by self-executing smart contracts.

In the banking sector ventures like TransferWise and many crowd lending startups leverage the peer to peer model, and investment activity further illustrates the technology niche opportunities, such as VISA investing in Marqeta, who provide a developers marketplace platform for virtual and physical corporate expense cards that directly services this hyper-growth sector. RailsBank is a startup specifically positioning itself as a BaaP venture.

In his Linkedin blog Pascal Bouvier offers a reference model, describing seven levels of ‘FinTech Platform‘, and the NextWeb describes it by focusing on a specific niche opportunity of PSD2 payments that it might be targeted towards, highlighting that this change is a natural fit for a platform approach.

In particular the super sweet spot of platforms is the intersection of mobile, social and Identity. TechCrunch writes your wallet will become the next platform, with every one from Facebook to Twitter potentially becoming a medium by where business models can exploit social relationships as a conduit for transactions, and Paypal similarly has also moved into peer to peer payments.

APIs and Open Banking Blockchain Platforms

As McKinsey describe the technology developments central to the Platform architecture are the APIs that enable open data sharing, and facilitate dynamic new business models.

Major market players like VISA and Citibank have pioneered early API programs, and the Open Banking Initiative has begun the industry-wide open standards work required to make this scalable and of course, truly open, such as publishing the first versions of the payment initiation specs and Open Data specifications.

The super sweet spot is where all these trends meet. For example Mastercard is building a set of blockchain APIs and ventures like Thought Machine are offering Vault OS to leveraging the blockchain to offer an entire banking system via the Cloud, an ‘operating system for banks’.

In the same fashion as the proposed idea of using the blockchain to power new Sharing Economy businesses, smart contracts are used to create products, so any type of loan or deposit account is entirely configurable. A component called Vault Gateway offers a single unified API to all large high street banks, enabling application developers to write apps for personal finance without having to take part in complex integration projects with each bank.

Featured Digital Scot: Wallet.Services

Scotland is uniquely positioned to exploit and prosper from the Blockchain Economy. The country is small enough to move quickly and is cultivating a skilled digital innovation industry, emulating other digital leaders like Estonia, while also boasting a major financial centre, a combination that could lead to the nation becoming the next financial hub of Europe.

Realizing this ambition will require substance and capabilities in the areas described above, and ventures like Wallet.Services are starting to bring this to market.

Offering a Platform model implementation, Wallet.Services is an API interacting with BlockChain through a simple Wallet concept, underpinned by BlockChain services in public or hybrid cloud. Its architecture supports full auditability of outsourced BlockChain operations.

Wallet.Services supports business operations through a ‘BlockChain business transaction language’, an intuitive high-level abstraction phrased in a manner accessible to the non-programmer business analyst.

With endorsements from Microsoft and the Scottish CivTech initiative, Wallet.Services is also quickly establishing an expertise in applying these innovations to other sectors such as government, partnering with Sopra Steria to develop paper-free, digital-first public service delivery and furthermore, they have been selected to advise the Scottish Governments blockchain strategy.

Conclusion

Although any and all sectors can benefit from the blockchain, it will be banking and government in particular where massive leaps will be made through applying the blockchain, enabling disruptive new banking business models and super streamlined government services. With such well conceived startups like Wallet.Services and early adoption support from the government, Scotland is demonstrating the progress required to achieve global leadership in this largest of market opportunities.

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