Can governments drive the adoption of blockchain?

September 24th, 2019 | by Grace Chng

There is a lot of scepticism and at the same time enthusiasm for blockchain technology.

It first emerged as the technical base for managing cryptocurrencies but technologists discovered blockchains can be used for enterprise systems too.

Many enterprises have dabbled and experimented with the technology but there have been few implementations or successes in Southeast Asia.

Blockchain, essentially, is just a decentralised ledger. Records from money transactions and contracts to votes and educational certifications can be verified without a centralised intermediary like a bank or an authority.

Its benefits are that transactions are transparent, immutable and secure. But the key factors for success require a community or ecosystem of end users willing to collaborate and who would be willing to use the same algorithm to create the records.

Perhaps one way is to get governments to drive the blockchain effort. Malaysia’s national applied research and development agency, MIMOS, is using blockchain to streamline various processes to improve the ease of doing business in the country. It is collaborating with software giant Oracle to do this.

According to an Oracle spokesman, MIMOS had completed an internal proof of concept for the traceability of palm oil. To widen its experiment, it is using Oracle’s blockchain platform for product traceability.

This will be used to help curb any potential food-related crises such as outbreaks and contamination by increasing the visibility and traceability of food products in the supply chain. Later, the project will be expanded to include cashless wallets and power distribution.

At Oracle OpenWorld 2019, MIMOS was highlighted as one of the key Oracle blockchain projects in Southeast Asia. The software giant is strengthening its blockchain solutions by integrating a new feature called Blockchain Table into one of its key products, Oracle Database.

It is among eight database technologies that the company has identified to let developers build better next-generation database applications, said Oracle executive vice-president, Juan Loaiza, at its annual OpenWorld expo last week.

Scheduled for release next year, the Blockchain Table will let customers insert rows as a crytopgraphic chain, where users can sign and validate the data, helping customers detect fraud or altered data.

“Blockchain technology is built directly into the database, making it very easy to use,” Loaiza said.

In Singapore, the government has mandated that from 2019, students will receive digital certificates for their N, O, A, university and other educational qualifications.

Called OpenCerts, it was jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore, Government Technology Agency, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and the Ministry of Education.

These digital certificates will be stored in the Skills Passports of their individual MySkillsFuture accounts.

When they use these certificates for job applications, employers will be able to quickly and easily verify these digital certificates through OpenCerts (opencerts.io).

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