The government has been advised to trial the technology that underpins crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, PublicTechnology has reported.
A report published by the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport suggests that distributed ledger technologies – essentially asset databases which record crypto-currency transactions – could help protect the UK cyber infrastructure and should be used for making welfare payments and a number of other government uses.
Leveraging technology akin to blockchain – the Bitcoin transactions database – has "the potential to help governments collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services," the report says.
The government should start trialling the technology, Walport urges. "Ultimately the best way to develop a technology is to use it in practice."
Any trials should be co-ordinated, reported and assessed "in a similar fashion" to clinical trials, "to ensure uniformity and maximise the rigour of the process", adds the report.
There are already a "small number of officials who are already thinking deeply about the potential uses for distributed ledger technology by government" – and this should be encouraged.
Within local government, the creation of distributed ledger pilots can be supported by incorporating a demonstrator project into one of the deals which see money and power passed directly to city regions, it suggests.
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