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The government has awarded a contract for the supply of blockchain platform as a service (PaaS) to startup company Credits.
The contract for the supply distributed ledger technology for use in the UK public sector was awarded through the G-Cloud 8 framework.
Credits was given the contract by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) due to its successful application of its blockchain platform for the Isle of Man Government and its recent partnership with UKCloud, which provides the cloud infrastructure Credits’ distributed ledger sits on.
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Public sector organisations, such as education, health, not-for-profits and emergency services, will be able to buy short-term contracts for the Credits’ blockchain-as-a-service platform through the Government Digital Service’s digital marketplace.
Nick Williamson, CEO and founder of Credits, said: “Credits is excited by the huge potential of distributed ledger technology for many different government and public sector applications.”
“We are looking forward to working with UK public sector organisations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services for UK taxpayers,” he added.
The government has recently been looking into the use of blockchain and how it may contribute to providing better public services.
Possible suggested uses for distributed ledger technology in the future of government include identity and immigration management, NHS patient tracking or anti-money laundering initiatives.
Blockchain allows users to keep track of transactions or activities by storing these in a distributed ledger along with an ID, timestamp and link to the previous transaction, making it difficult to tamper with entries.
Not only will the availability of blockchain as a service on G-cloud allow UK public sector bodies to deploy distributed ledgers, it will also enable them to deploy the technology by solution and managed services providers.
The service provided by Credits will be backwards compatible with older legacy systems, and it will allow public services to build applications driven by the ledger technology.
Distributed ledgers for government departments
According to a recent government report on the use of blockchain technologies, Mark Walport, government chief scientific adviser, suggested an increased in the use of distributed ledgers for government services could improve trust between citizens and government, as entries to these ledgers are transparent and cannot be tampered with.
Walport said by adopting distributed ledgers, government departments could see a reduction in illegal activities, such as benefit fraud, and the ability to securely register documents such as pensions, healthcare data, intellectual property or wills.
This means government departments such as the NHS, DVLA, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs could all benefit from the use of distributed ledger to improve services to the public as well as increase cost and efficiency.
The DWP has already begun trials using blockchain distributed ledger technology to monitor benefits claims using a mobile application.
The Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) has even alluded that the use of distributed ledgers in healthcare could help to replace the NHS’s failed care.data scheme or help to introduce electronic voting systems that could not be tampered with.
Distributed ledger technology is currently in use in the private sector in organisations to enable Bitcoin digital currency technology or to keep track of valuable goods, such as diamonds.