UK public sector ‘not taking up advantages of blockchain’

27 Sep 18

The UK public sector is “lagging behind” other countries in taking up blockchain technology, a conference has heard. 

Digitised public ledgers can save governments “huge” sums of money, Laura Bailey, spokesperson for the British Blockchain Association told the even Blockchain Live yesterday.

But she said that the UK central government in particular was not taking advantage of this, to delegates at the event in Olympia, organised by the Partnership Media Group.

“Globally, more and more jurisdictions are attempting to apply blockchain technology, but the UK public sector has been lagging behind in adoption,” Bailey said.

The benefits of using blockchain technology in the public sector include “huge efficiency savings” and “a more joined up government”, she added.

She explained some bodies have engaged on the subject and mentioned a Cryptoassets Taskforce, which is made up of senior leaders from the Treasury, Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority.

But government bodies including the Department for International Development and HMRC “have engaged but not substantially and no concrete commitments have been made”.

Bailey told delegates, that to take advantage of the opportunities represented by blockchain, the government must put in place “rules and standards to sustain this growing market”.

Speaking separately at the event, Richard Mander head of platform architecture at HMRC, said that his department’s work with blockchain “is beginning to generate very clear benefits” for his department.

Mander said that HMRC built a “private permissioned blockchain”, which he claimed was a success and has “proven the potential benefit of the technology”.

But Mander also admitted the government was failing to keep up with the growth of blockchain technology.

“Technology is moving at a faster pace than policy in central government,” he told the conference.

Mander said that given the success of HMRC’s work on blockchain the body now wants to “share our positive outcomes with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.”

He added: “The HMRC has proved that there is potential benefits to blockchain within government.”

In July, Mark Gibbinson, director of software company Unit4, told delegates at CIPFA’s annual conference that the public sector lacks policies to support blockchain.

Previously, former culture secretary Matt Hancock has said that some government departments were considering using blockchain technology.

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