How Blockchain technology can assist the economic and health recovery and safeguard our systems in the future.
COVID19 is perhaps the harshest example of a black swan event: it has come as a surprise to almost all, its impact is likely to be severe and there is an abundance of those claiming in hindsight that it was entirely predictable.
Around the world, government and business leaders along with ordinary citizens are coming to the unsettling realisation that assumptions about the robustness of economic, health and social systems can be brought undone by a microbe.
As we face into a period of shared uncertainty and economic difficulty, we need to begin NOW to accelerate the recovery and create much greater resilience against future shocks. This is not a business as usual challenge. New and innovative thinking along with the smart deployment of technological and organisational solutions is needed – at pace.
Blockchain technology can help drive the economic and health recovery and underpin more resilient systems in the future.
Ubiquitous and trusted digital credentials can assist now in managing safety, distribution and entitlement issues. Just to name a few areas, a blockchain credential could:
- Verify that a medical professional or essential services worker is entitled to enter a certain area;
- Confirm that a benefit recipient (eg. old age pensioner) is entitled to shop at a certain time or purchase certain products;
- Easily demonstrating that a stood down QANTAS flight attendant has recent first aid credentials that mean they could be quickly redeployed to assist with health triage;
- Verify that an individual has been tested for COVID and found to be negative or recovered as at a certain date.
Or even that I have already purchased a packet of toilet paper this week and just need to wait a while before buying another!
Another key opportunity as we see a shift to much more extensive working from home is the ability to verify and share delegated authorities that we exercise on behalf of our employers. Our current systems are not well designed for virtual working and lack interoperability. As one small example, I was recently forced to attend a bank branch in order to record a physical signature allowing a colleague access to our online banking app. What was an annoying inconvenience a month ago has become a potential threat to health.
The National Blockchain Roadmap has already identified credentials as a key use case. Importantly, the core technology already exists. Efforts that were once seen as a nice-to-have way to remove costs from the banking and utility sector could easily be accelerated to become a key tool in accelerating economic recovery.
As we look beyond the immediate crisis and recovery, it is increasingly clear that systems and processes across society will be changed forever by the COVID19 phenomenon.
Government and business leaders now tasked with ‘Horizon 3’ planning for the post-COVID world should evaluate and begin investment in potential blockchain solutions that will make our institutions more robust in the face a future shock including:
- Track and Trace solutions that allow linking of identity data in a public health or other emergency while remaining privacy compliant in day to day life;
- More resilient supply chains achieved through transparency and smart contract-based governance tools;
- Virtual working through ubiquitous and trusted identity credentials including authorities and permissions;
- Enhanced virtual learning through ‘learning wallets’;
- Targeting of welfare and other social benefits through conditional payments;
- Enhanced labour mobility through trusted vocational credentials
- Improved investment returns as citizens rebuild damaged superannuation funds through more efficient funds management tools.
All of these ideas and more have already been identified as transformative solutions for industry and government. The current crisis has shown that not only is there a business case for change based on efficiency and transparency in normal times but that these tools can help protect and preserve markets and populations in times of crisis.
Business as usual is over. The emerging trust economy has long been predicted to change our economy and society for the better. The COVID19 emergency means that we should accelerate those efforts so that we can recover more quickly and have greater resilience in the future.
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Author – Nicholas Giurietto, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director – Blockchain Australia[/box]