A future built on blockchain

ACN touches base with regional IT experts to weigh in on the evolution of Blockchain technology

Tags: ABN AMRO BankBlockchainBooz Allen HamiltonCyber crimeInternet of Things
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A future built on blockchain Focused on its continued development while also identifying different ways it can be used, interest for blockchain has piqued in government, public infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation sectors, to name a few.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  May 10, 2017

First rising to prominence as the core foundation of the digital currency Bitcoin in 2008, the popularity of blockchain technology has grown significantly over the past few years. While the advancement of blockchain and its adoption has been largely driven by the global financial services industry, a number of organisations from other sectors have recently began to explore the possibilities of the technology.

Focused on its continued development while also identifying different ways it can be used, interest for blockchain has piqued in government, public infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation sectors, to name a few.

“In the GCC, both the public and private sector have already started to experiment with the potential uses of blockchain technology. While the adoption of blockchain technology is still in its infancy, the benefits are widely expected to cut costs, enhance security, and produce faster transaction models across a variety of sectors,” says Ramez Shehadi, managing director, Booz Allen Hamilton MENA.

Shehadi went on to share key examples from across the region, such as the recent Hyperledger Blockchain Hackathon that was hosted by the King AbdulAziz City of Science and Technology, as well as several new initiatives launched by the government of Dubai.

These include a new initiative aimed at leveraging blockchain to help the government go paperless by 2020, and the establishment of the Global Blockchain Council’s Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation. The latter is expected to spearhead a number of blockchain-related initiatives and launch pilot projects across a number of sectors.

In terms of implications for various industries, Shehadi notes that blockchain could significantly impact transportation, particularly as the region’s smart city infrastructure continues to develop. For example, the development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies will serve as the foundation for interconnected transportation grid.

Elsewhere, the real estate sector is looking to utilise blockchain in the creation of a distributed ledger for buyers, sellers, brokers and regulators. One example Shehadi shares lies with a pilot project undertaken by ABN AMRO and its technology partner IBM, which aids parties involved in real estate transactions record and exchange information.

Blockchain holds great promise for the healthcare sector as well. Healthcare providers can utilise the technology to better secure patient data by creating multi-signature and cryptography functions, while in insurance and billing, blockchain can help manage payments through a single platform.

The managing director also highlighted how blockchain could be greatly beneficial to both entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“Blockchain also helps incubating the start-ups ecosystem, by simplifying processes such as registering a business, securing funding and patenting ideas,” comments Shehadi.

“The technology can allow individuals to make their data accessible to a number of pre-approved entities involved in the network, such as business registration, patenting and funding authorities, while also allowing data to be updated in real time.”

The increasing popularity and adoption of the technology however, does bring with it a host of new challenges, particularly within the cybersecurity arena. Blockchain introduces new attack vectors that IT specialists will need to monitor for new threats and develop the right defensive tools accordingly.

Headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, global cybersecurity specialist CTM360 is one such company closely following the forward progress of blockchain technology. Conducting its own research on the possible attack vectors, CTM360 is also exploring the how blockchain can be utilised in IT security.

“Security is what blockchain is all about, with a distributed database this currently is the ultimate of data integrity and authenticity,” explains Mirza Asrar Baig, CEO, CTM360 & IT Matrix.

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