When it comes to new technologies, the government has earned the reputation of a slow and heavy beast. But the British minister for digital and creative industries Margot James, speaking at the recent Blockchain Live conference held in London, has tried to disapprove this concept – extending the British government's plans for the technology of the moment, blockchain.
"As the prime minister recently said, the UK is 100% committed to supporting the development and adoption of new technologies," said James, making a parallel between the government's interest in blockchain. and the urge to launch the 5G.
James also supported the example of the UK Financial Regulatory Authority, the FCA and its sandbox approach that "allows companies to test products and services in a real market environment" but with "appropriate guarantees". It is a pioneering approach which, according to reports, is now being imitated worldwide.
"And through the first two cohorts of companies backed by this process, the most used technology was blockchain," said James.
However, James emphasized the importance of considering the applications of the blockchain beyond the financial world. He highlighted numerous blockchain projects to praise in particular the partnership between IBM, Nestle and Unilever to improve traceability of contaminated food products.
"Actions like this, which work behind the scenes for consumer protection, have the ability to make huge improvements to people's lives," he said, noting that in recent months he has met numerous companies that develop blockchain applications to improve supply and increase trust in social financing.
He also highlighted a partnership between National Archives and the University of Surrey on "Archangel", a project that aims to preserve digital archives through blockchain technology.
Initiatives blockchain of the British government
How exactly is the UK government improving its stated commitment to the blockchain? "We are starting to make investments from my department," said James. "We are investing over £ 10 million through Innovate UK and our research councils to support Blockchain projects in various areas such as energy, voting systems and donations."
There is interest in the technology of the entire government, with the DWP, the DEFRA and the department for international development that also deal with the implementation of conceptual projects.
James mentioned that cryptographic resources are becoming more attractive to government agencies: "In March, the government established a task force with crypto resources including the Treasury, the Bank of England and the FCA to explore risks and potentials. benefits of cryptographic resources and other applications distributed general accounting technology in financial services to assess what would happen if regulation in response was required. "
Problems with blockchain for the government
Despite the government's interest in and investment in blockchain technology, James was sincere about the difficulties inherent in public bodies.
"The decentralized nature of technology poses some real challenges for regulators and the government, as is obvious for businesses," he said.
"Legally, how do we interpret smart contracts when computer coding requires specificity and the law often needs interpretation? Who is responsible? Data that is shared and held by thousands of separate players on a decentralized distribution system."
He stressed the role of the government in helping to resolve the answers to these questions, noting that the bill has recently launched a project that examines smart contracts and how current law is applied, as well as identifying areas of uncertainty.
Despite regulatory difficulties, keeping up with new technologies is imperative for the UK government.
"We all know that the digital sector plays a key role in the UK economy," said James. "In fact, digital and creative industries are the two fastest growing sectors of our economy: in 2016 the digital sector contributed nearly £ 120 billion to the UK economy and last year generated 1.5 million jobs ".