UK to trial Blockchain in welfare payments

By Joshua Chambers

Trials and investment proposed.

The British Government has announced plans to use Blockchain technology in its welfare system, as well as in protecting national infrastructure.

Blockchain is a new distributed accounting technology that records all transactions in perpetuity. It is extremely difficult to alter once a record has been made, because the system is held on tens of thousands of servers worldwide rather than in a central location.

“Distributed ledgers are inherently harder to attack because instead of a single database, there are multiple shared copies of the same database, so a cyber-attack would have to attack all the copies simultaneously to be successful,” said the Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport.

In a new report by Walport, Britain announced plans to trial using Blockchain in the distribution of welfare funds, as well as in small business registrations.

“Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services,” Walport said.

He also proposed using Blockchain to safeguard hospital records in the National Health Service.

Walport added that Blockchain should be used to replace “large legacy IT systems located within a single institution”.

He recommended that the work be led by the Government Data Service, and that the Government Digital Service use Blockchain technology as it develops new services for government departments.

The UK also announced plans to invest in researching the technology, assisting cities with using it, and investigating how to regulate Blockchain.

The technology is already used by Estonia’s Government after it was subjected to a state-wide cyber attack in 2007. The new technology “appears to make it impossible for privileged insiders to perform illegal acts inside the government network,” Walport noted.

The country uses Blockchain in its tax and business registration systems.

Also read: Four Things All Officials Should Know About Blockchain