Can blockchain technology reduce bureaucracy

How Governments Can Use Blockchain Technology

"Blockchain is a technology that will remain because it is unique," said Economics and Digitization Minister Margarethe Schramböck in her opening speech at the ANON Blockchain Summit on April 2 in the Gösserhalle in Vienna: It is not just about crypto currencies, but about changing entire business models and business processes. This not only affects startups, but also SMEs and corporations - as well as governments and public administration.

Many areas of application

Schramböck cites public tenders as an example, in which companies can use blockchain technology to ensure that they have submitted all the necessary documents on time. In general, Schramböck also sees potential in the blockchain for making processes more secure and reducing bureaucracy.

Marta Piekarska, Director of the Ecosystem Hyperledger, sees potential wherever there are lots of devices and lots of people who normally have to trust each other. Transparency is also crucial here: data that has been written to the blockchain can no longer be deleted - this is also interesting for a digital land register, for example, when real estate is transferred. The exchange of information between offices and ministries can also be accelerated in this way, explains the expert - this takes weeks or even months in the conventional way.

Blockchain funding in Austria and the EU

The Austrian federal government has founded the Austrian Blockchain Center, which among other things promotes research and development around the topic: The aim is to develop blockchain projects for real life.

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There is also commitment at the EU level, as Josef Vasak, representative of the EU Commission in Austria, explains: Among other things, the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum was founded, which is dedicated to this topic. The goal is a partnership that reflects the values ​​of the EU: Among other things, transparency and uniform international standards are to be created.

Regulation is the crux of the matter

But how much regulation can the blockchain handle? Schramböck is of the opinion that regulatory sandboxes should first be procured in which to experiment with the technology. You shouldn't regulate too early, say the ministries. “The EU has a tendency to over-regulate things. Many large European companies have disappeared because the regulation was too strict, ”she says: Consumer protection is important, but you shouldn't overdo it and then regret that no European company is in the top 10 largest IT companies in the world.

Vasak replies that they are currently in exploratory mode, there is a focus on blockchain in both research and investments. However, regulations are sometimes necessary, as can be seen, for example, in the common digital single market: Here standards have helped to remove obstacles to international expansion.

Voting via blockchain

It is also up for discussion whether elections will be made possible via the blockchain at some point. According to Vasak, the condition for this is that the system is accessible, reliable and anonymous for everyone. In this regard, Piekarska even warns against quick shots. You should wait until a few more projects fail and you can learn from them, says the expert. "Because if there's a tiny security incident in just one election, we've failed forever," she says.

Schramböck also advises not to rush anything in this regard. For the time being, it is a matter of correctly communicating the benefits, building trust and preventing abuse - she cites NEOS deputy Gerald Loacker, who recently relocated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs via the “Digital Office” app, as a negative example. "We have to clearly convey that a digital signature is worth the same as an analog one and that the same laws apply in the digital world as in the analog world," says Schramböck: "And we have to show that there is a common ground in projects like this Benefit for everyone. "