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Could a blockchain-based digital government be the future for Singapore?

Could a blockchain-based digital government be the future for Singapore?

Blockchain technology, the foundation for most cryptocurrencies, is now being implemented by various industries and institutions. Businesses ranging from public records to real estate, airline companies and cloud storage are incorporating blockchain technology to enhance the transparency and security to cope with today’s emerging digitalization across the globe.

By In Conjunction

Monday 19 September 2022, 09:12AM

While countries including Canada and Australia have already started including blockchain technology with their digital infrastructure, Singapore is also moving ahead as one of Asia’s leading blockchain development countries. As early as 2018, consulting firm PWC released a report indicating that 82 percent of the surveyed executive in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway, while 13 percent have already purchased the initiatives live to the market.

Blockchain is a technology that can completely rebuild the supply chain for sustainable practices. Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that offers a digital database for keeping track of all supply chain transactions. Researchers and developers have shown that blockchain technology offers advantages beyond cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It can completely change the functions of financial and government institutions by providing new methods for processing information and organizing procedures.

Several governments, especially in Europe, have tested this cutting-edge technology for various purposes and services over the past few years, including land registration, educational credentialing, health care, procurement, food supply chains, and identity management. Aside from the improvements that blockchain technologies have accomplished to financial transactions, it has been utilized by governments across the globe in various areas to develop smart and sustainable cities and enhance government information systems in the foreseeable future as blockchain technologies can provide a secure, interoperable infrastructure that allows all smart city services and functions to operate beyond currently envisioned levels. 

In 2020, Singapore’s government, together with the Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), launched a $12 million Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme (SBIP), which aims to incorporate blockchain technology research with the needs of the industry, to facilitate the development, commercialization and adoption of wider real-world applications. This industry-driven initiative will engage close to 75 companies, including MNCs, large enterprises and ICT companies, to conceptualize 17 blockchain-related projects within the next three years in trade, logistics, and supply chain sectors.

QSI International School Phuket

Furthermore, the SBIP aims to look into the scalability of blockchain technology to enable its adoption in environments with high transaction rates; blockchain interoperability that enables value exchange across blockchain systems and address the current challenges of siloed blockchain networks; and growing the blockchain tech talent pool to enable ICT companies to further tap on blockchain technologies. If incorporated carefully, the benefits of the SBIP will allow a common, shared, open public infrastructure to develop digital services across Singapore’s public sector. Other benefits include data protection, transparency, combating fraud, etc. 

Blockchain’s main attraction of decentralized finance or DeFi, which removes intermediaries from financial transactions remains largely unregulated. This is because altering the critical aspects of DeFi would remove decentralization and transparency, rendering the technology useless. Regardless, trust in this industry is important as blockchain technology is now being rolled out by governments.

Similar to contemporary technologies in the early adoption stages, blockchain can flourish as long as policymakers develop effective regulatory frameworks and avoid overregulation to not miss out on reducing the beneficial outcomes that are expected to improve the quality of De-Fi’s forthcoming enhancements that are desired to significantly change the financial landscape in Singapore through decentralization and transparency. When fully implemented, the SBIP will allow government agencies to develop and revolutionize digital services from issuing passports to making appointments with public services. It really is a win-win situation for all.

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