For Scotland to realize an ambition of becoming a digital world leader this requires that we pioneer, not follow, the latest cutting edge developments in this field, and at the forefront of the trend is the emerging technology of ‘Self-Sovereign Identity‘, an innovation that can be harnessed to build out a National Blockchain Network, the ‘Scottish Common Blockchain’.
To begin to identify how this collaboration might take shape, and importantly, what benefits it could deliver for Scotland, we can refer to articles from local Scottish pioneers. A critical step is to connect these technological capabilities with equally visionary policy ideas, such as:
Business for Scotland describe the ‘Scottish Common Blockchain‘, how it would act as a public utility with many possible use case scenarios, such as enabling a new national currency and secure online voting. Tireless advocate for Blockchain-secured voting Yesdayscotland defines how this would usher in a new era of digital democracy for Scotland.
Also tireless advocates for a better future Scotland the CommonSpace team publish an amazing breadth and depth of policy innovation reports, many of which could be implemented and accelerated through these types of technology capabilities. In particular their Case for a Scottish Payments System is especially pertinent here.
Very importantly the report articulates a ‘target architecture’, an end goal for transformation efforts that realize significant benefits and cost savings for Scotland, achievable through replacing the commercial banks and credit card processors with a non-profit entity, meaning those vast profits are reinvested back into the social needs of the country.
This would be in addition to massive efficiency savings also netted across the public sector. They describe local governments making use of the service, but there are a multitude of other scenarios too. For example the plans to devolve some Social Security powers includes programs such as The Regulated Social Fund, Discretionary Housing Payments and powers to top up reserved benefits. These could all call upon a common capability.
To the point of this article it would also mean that:
“payment infrastructure was already in place in the event of a vote for independence. As the Scottish government would already have control of payments in the digital economy the switch-over from Sterling to a Scottish currency would be easier as the technology would be under the Scottish government’s control to allow this to happen.”
This article only scratches the surface of the myriad of use cases that a common Blockchain Identity platform could enable, a multitude of others are possible, but even with only those describing a wholesale transformation of Scotland’s democracy and government service delivery infrastructure, it is clear just how breathtakingly wide and deep this transformation could be.