Britain needs a chief blockchain officer, MP says

July 04, 2018
Chris Wheal

Eddie Hughes, the Conservative member of parliament for Walsall North, has called on the government to back blockchain projects aimed at enabling social freedom and increasing efficiency.

 

Eddie Hughes MP, says UK government should appoint blockchain officer: Wikimedia Commons

In a paper for think tank Freer, published on Wednesday and entitled Unlocking Blockchain, Hughes writes that in a society devoid of trust – due to various financial and political scandals in recent decades – data transparency is becoming increasingly important.

Trust deficit

He says: “We must tackle the trust deficit. By engaging now, and recognising blockchain’s potential, we can ensure it is used by the state to empower individuals, and to afford us real control over our own data.”

Eddie Hughes, MP

To this end, he recommends appointing a “public-facing Chief Blockchain Officer”, responsible for co-ordinating government work on blockchain across different departments and ministries.

Cost reduction

He goes on to examine how applications of blockchain across industry have been used to reduce costs and surmises that the state should focus its attention on using blockchain to enable social freedom, on cutting the costs of economic activity and rebuilding societal trust for the common good.

In April, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock reiterated the government’s 2017 Digital Strategy saying “blockchain technology holds real potential to make Government services more efficient”.

Transaction and procurement

Hughes says that the main direct savings from embracing blockchain would come through reduced transaction and procurement costs.

“Calculating potential government savings is difficult at the departmental level, and almost impossible at the overall level,” Hughes says.

“However, a greater focus on such technologies — not only blockchain, but also other associated innovations — would clearly prove transformative.”

Proposals

His key proposals are as follows:

  • The state should focus its attention on using blockchain to enable social freedom, to increase efficiency, and to rebuild societal trust
  • An extensive international ‘blockchain competition’ should be set up in the UK to drive homegrown entrepreneurship, and to entice leading global players to develop technology here
  • Embracing the opportunities of distributive ledger technology (DLT) should be fit into a ministerial brief and a public-facing ‘Chief Blockchain Officer’ should be appointed from within the government’s existing taskforce to co-ordinate the UK’s strategy regarding the application of DLT to public services and data
  • Government departments should show leadership by putting in a place a long-term target of making a 1% efficiency saving, by embracing these new technologies
Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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