One of the missions of Blockchain Ireland is to further understanding in the business community of how blockchain and DLT can be leveraged to provide security, trust, transparency and assurance.
With various use cases around identity management, supply chain assurance, data integrity and more, the argument can be made for how blockchain can work for business. However, there is also increasing interest from governments and public institutions to leverage these capabilities to provide a new generation of services that are more secure, reliable and accessible for citizens.
According to OECD estimates, 10-30% of investment in publicly funded construction projects may be lost to corruption. This is a shocking figure, given that public procurement can account for almost a third (29%) of general government expenditure, totalling €4.2 trillion in OECD countries in 2013.
An article from the World Economic Forum argues that public procurement processes are vulnerable to corruption, as parties on both the public and private sides, are induced into corrupt acts by the size of potential financial gains, the close interaction between public officials and business, and how easy it is to hide corrupt actions.
However, the article’s author, Matthew Van Niekerk, co-founder and chief executive officer, SettleMint, contends that blockchain has the potential to protect against such weaknesses “at almost every stage of the procurement process”.
Van Niekerk highlights how the in planning and evaluation stages of public procurement, transparency is key to confidence in the process.
“Blockchain can provide an easily accessible, tamper-proof and real-time window into on-going procurement processes,” writes Van Niekerk.
The article goes on to highlight how inefficiencies in land registries can prolong or delay sales, causing frustration and no small opportunity for corruption, which can be an issue in developed countries just as much as in the developing world.
“A good first step to fight corruption is by cutting down inefficiencies. Blockchain can streamline much of the process,” writes Van Niekerk.
He cites examples in the UK where a blockchain based system cut down the steps for one person to sell property by more than half. Another cited example was in Georgia, where in 2018, more than 1.5 million land titles were registered through their blockchain-based system.
Despite the various examples of blockchain allowing process simplification and eliminating opportunities to subvert or corrupt the systems, Van Niekerk acknowledges that there are still challenges for organisations and governments.
“For large institutions, such as governments, to deploy blockchain-based applications in a timely fashion and reap the benefits, education and tools are imperative,” he concludes.