We live in an era of technological dominance where most activities are fluently intertwined with tech, whether it’s daily life or larger socio-economic initiatives, making tech more relevant than ever before.
Amongst the emerging technologies, one of the often talked about technology with huge potential is blockchain technology. Blockchain is seen as an all pervasive technology with the potential to disrupt almost all industries. It is an integral part of the next evolution of the web called Web3. According to a report by The World Economic Forum (WEF), as much as 10% of the global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2025.
Blockchain technology essentially creates a layer of trust by facilitating immutable records over distributed ledgers. It also provides the right privacy, security and eliminates human discretion by employing rule based actions using smart contracts, making it resistant to modification and tampering. This has a huge bearing in a country like India where trust and transparency have often been a struggle especially in delivery of public goods given the scale, diversity and complexities unique to India.
Reliance on correct data is an essential for delivering effective and targeted citizen services. Yet, the biggest challenge that governments face is that the data is in silos and often inconsistent across government departments. Blockchain can create a huge impact in many services involving the Government and here are two examples:
Land records: Sale deed, property tax receipts, survey documents are amongst the many documents used for claiming ownership of land. However, these are all subject to challenges as they are not a government guaranteed title of property but merely a record of transfer of property. According to some estimates, more than 60% of litigations pending in our courts are related to land records and allied issues. This also has an impact on agricultural credit. Disputed titles inhibit the flow of institutional credit especially to the small and marginal farmers.
Targeted Subsidy: The government spends a lot of money on subsidies. Organising this data of beneficiaries across multiple departments on blockchain, usage of smart contracts to avoid human interference and provenance of all transactions can have a huge impact on the effective distribution of subsidy to the real beneficiaries.
The end usage of the subsidy can also be regulated by programmable tokens that can be facilitated by blockchain. This way, the subsidy can be redeemed only for the intended purpose. Further the government will also have the power to dynamically manage the validity and value of these tokens based on the evolving situation in terms of emergency situations such as natural disasters or pandemic like covid.
Thus Blockchain has the potential to radically transform the lives of citizens and propel India to a leading position in the global economy.
In addition to the above use-cases of blockchain primarily by government to citizens, there are several use-cases spanning across multiple industries that are adopting blockchain. Some of the noteworthy examples are:
Credentials on blockchain: Fake credentials ranging from educational certificates to job experience is a huge menace. Start-ups such as VeriOnce are addressing this problem by facilitating the issuers to issue these credentials on blockchain and allow verifiers to verify the same seamlessly on the blockchain platform thus saving time and cost to Industry and creating a fair and level playing field for genuine candidates.
Ride sharing using blockchain: The original promise of ride sharing apps was to improve quality of service and benefit both the drivers and customers by providing a transparent platform. However, due to skewed business models and unprecedented power of data, the complaints from both the customers and drivers are on the rise. Start-ups such as DRIFE, a blockchain-based mobility platform that seeks to decentralize the ride-hailing ecosystem are set to bring the much needed transparency.
Metaverse: Since its launch in 2021, Metaverse has spiralled traditional communication and brings immense opportunities with it to businesses and people in general. Blockchain is an essential building block for metaverse. Several enterprises across industry segments have publicly announced their interest in the metaverse. Metaverse platforms such as Partynite are revolutionizing customer experience in a wide range of areas from banking to e-commerce and gaming.
It is noteworthy that blockchain is still evolving as a technology and there remain challenges with respect to clarity in policy and regulations, decoupling of blockchain technology with crypto, standardization and interoperability. It is also important to understand that blockchain is a foundational technology and requires all stakeholders within the business ecosystem to participate and adopt it.
Industry bodies have been playing a very constructive role creating awareness and helping policy makers, industry and start-ups collaborate to harness the true potential of blockchain technology. It is also heartening to see the regulatory bodies like RBI, IFSCA and SEBI and some state Governments like Telangana creating sandboxes to help start-ups build & showcase solutions and allow a nuanced debate before mass adoption.
Indeed blockchain has come a long way from being called a ‘Solution searching for a Problem’ to effective pilots, proof of concepts(PoCs) and full-fledged implementations. The adoption of blockchain has also passed through a maturity curve in terms of identification of real use-cases that bring value – now we are at a point of inflection in the mass adoption of blockchain. Blockchain has the potential to be a gamechanger and a leading catalyst in India’s digital vision.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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