ChainNews Interview with ArcBlock CEO: Why U.S. Government is Embarcing Blockchain?
With more and more bids from the U.S. government, how will centralized institutions use blockchain technology?
On February 20, the Chamber of Digital Commerce published a white paper titled “ National Action Plan for Blockchain”, calling on the federal government to publicly support blockchain technology and take comprehensive and coordinated measures to promote the development of blockchain technology in the United States.
As the world's largest blockchain trade association, the Chamber of Digital Commerce represents over 200 members including global IT consultancies, large financial institutions, accounting firms, multinational technology companies, elite law firms, insurance corporations, investment firms, and leading edge startups in the blockchain space.
As a member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, the Seattle-based blockchain startup ArcBlock participated in this initiative. ArcBlock’s founder and CEO Robert Mao was quite excited about it. In an interview, he said that despite the continued downturn in the crypto-market, blockchain technology is still developing, and it is expected that the global blockchain technology market will grow to $ 2.3 billion by 2021.
According to the white paper, blockchain technology offers immense possibilities for innovation and economic growth to businesses, governments, and consumers. It is critical to the competitiveness and position of the United States as a global leader in science and technology. However, without the widespread support of policymakers, this potential will not be realized. To this end, the white paper provides a series of guidelines on how governments can best support blockchain technology.
Although the drivers of blockchain innovation are still concentrated in the United States, the lack of a predictable legal environment governing activities involving the technology hinders the realization of blockchain’s full potential. Therefore, the Chamber of Digital Commerce calls upon governments to develop laws and regulations that support the development of blockchain and to promote the availability and application of digital assets and blockchain technologies, thus creating an environment that fosters innovation, jobs, and investment.
In fact, the initiative by the Chamber of Digital Commerce reflected some improvements in the relationship between the industry and the government. Bitcoin was born ten years ago, as a decentralized, distrustful hacker technology, but has since been fully embraced by increasingly large institutions. Blockchain is increasingly seen as a breakthrough technology to build infrastructure. Just as the Internet supports applications such as e-mail, e-commerce and O2O, blockchain technology as infrastructure can make transactions faster and more efficient, eliminating the possibility of unintentional or manual errors in multi-intermediary and multi-location transactions. Blockchain is a cryptographically secure platform ideal for storing assets and ownership information and will serve as the foundation or “rails” for other technologies, like the Internet of things (“IoT”) and artificial intelligence. Robert Mao believes that developers should accept the reality that the government can function as a “center” of this technology, and not solely as an enemy of innovation. Just as governments need to embrace blockchain technology, technology needs to embrace government.
Last October, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the White Paper "Blockchain Technology Overview (NISTIR 8202)", which outlines the government's attitudes towards the technology. NIST released the Secret Hash Algorithm (SHA) on behalf of the U.S. government. This white paper, which is the first comprehensive introduction to blockchain technology for federal government agencies, provides these guidelines on how to examine the use of blockchain technology: “Blockchain technology is rapidly changing and is still in its early stages. It should be investigated in terms of how the blockchain technology benefits us, rather than how we integrate our problems into the blockchain technology. Organizations should treat blockchain technology as any other technical solution and use it where appropriate.”
Perhaps the release of NIST's white paper has paved the way for government agencies to actively adopt blockchain technology. From last October to this February, Robert Mao says he has seen more and more federal government departments in the United States bidding publicly for blockchain solutions. A non-comprehensive list of blockchain inquiries in the U.S. government is as follows: the Department of Defense (DOD) is exploring a multi-party document management system with blockchain technology; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) solicited a blockchain solution for document security; The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) hopes to use blockchain to set up a secure data exchange system for automotive transportation; the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought analysis of blockchain data to support their monitoring of crypto-market risks and improve compliance: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is investigating blockchain’s ability to view authorized personnel and improve the efficiency of NASA's model-based mission management engineering systems.
“In the light of the above applications, the federal government, as a demand-side end user, is well aware that blockchain technology is open, transparent, secure, and verifiable.” Robert Mao said, “Just as the birth of the Internet originated in the U.S. Department of Defense's research project ARPANET, with the help of government departments, blockchain’s possibilities are endless.