To boost transparency, Ukraine turns to blockchain

The governments of several countries have already adopted this transaction-tracking software to increase transparency and efficiency.

Reuters/File
Bitcoin mining computers are pictured in Bitfury's mining farm near Keflavik, Iceland, June 7, 2016. Bitfury will apply blockchain, the technology that manages bitcoin, to Ukraine's government transactions.

Ukraine has partnered with global technology company the Bitfury Group to put a sweeping range of government data on a blockchain platform, the firm's chief executive officer told Reuters, in a project he described as probably the largest of its kind anywhere.

Bitfury, a blockchain company with offices in the United States and overseas, will provide the services to Ukraine, chief executive officer Valery Vavilov said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ukraine's blockchain initiative underscores a growing trend among governments that have adopted the technology to increase efficiencies and improve transparency.

Blockchain is a ledger of transactions that first emerged as the software underpinning digital currency bitcoin. It has become a key global technology in both the public and private sector given its ability to permanently record and keep track of assets or transactions across all industries.

Ukraine and Bitfury are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on Thursday, Mr. Vavilov said.

Though Vavilov said he was unable to estimate the cost of the project, he said it was the biggest government blockchain deal ever so far. It involves putting all of the Ukraine government's electronic data onto the blockchain platform.

"A secure government system built on the blockchain can secure billions of dollars in assets and make a significant social and economic impact globally by addressing the need for transparency and accountability," said Vavilov.

There are other countries that have started blockchain programs, but they are smaller in scope involving one or two sectors, such as land titles and real estate ownership. Countries that have launched blockchain programs include Sweden, Estonia, and Georgia.

"This agreement will result in an entirely new ecosystem for state projects based on blockchain technology in Ukraine," Oleksandr Ryzhenko, head of the State Agency for eGovernance of Ukraine, said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.

"Our aim is clear and ambitious – we want to make Ukraine one of the world's leading blockchain nations."

Ukraine's deal with Bitfury will begin with a pilot project to introduce blockchain into the country's digital platform. The areas being explored for the pilot project are state registers, public services, social security, public health, and energy, Vavilov said.

Once the pilot is complete, the blockchain program will expand into all areas, including cyber security.

This is Bitfury's second government blockchain project. In April last year, Bitfury signed an agreement with Georgia to pilot the first blockchain land-titling registry. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.