How Blockchain Can Help Governments to Deliver Client-centric Services?

Do we currently have an issue with personal identity? – asks himself our speaker Daniel Gasteiger. The answer is “yes” and it is an issue on very different levels. In the digitalized world, the main risk comes from us creating more and more online accounts and thus online identities. The higher the number of the identities we have the higher the risks that our identities are getting stolen. Add to that 20 billion IoT devices that will be linked to us by 2020 and the risk of privacy violation and identity theft is becoming considerable. Current eGovernments solutions are also not well protected from these risks.


An example of a country that has been amongst the pioneers in defining a strategy when it comes to technology and personal identity is Estonia. Already 20 years ago, Estonia decided that technology is going to be a key feature for success in building a post-Soviet society. It introduced the concept of national digital identity and the country now offers more than 1500 digital government services built on this identity. E-voting starting 2005, e-banking and now even drug prescriptions are all linked to this identity and completely paperless.

Unfortunately, in Switzerland, we’re not there yet. In 2010, a roll-out of digital national identity (Swiss ID) did not get anywhere. In 2017, we’re still struggling to have e-voting in all cantons. Although, two solutions already exist (one implemented in the Geneva canton and the other proposed by Swiss post), it is by no means a standard service for all of us.

Daniel Gasteiger has a vision to enable Switzerland to catch up with countries like Estonia and be able to provide citizens with trusted e-government services. His company Procivis is developing a smartphone app that would generate an electronic digital identity. After government verification of the identity, an individual can access a number of government services from a “e-gov app store”, just like you would normally access apps on a smartphone. These services can come in many different shapes including digital commercial registry, digital land registry, criminal records, e-voting or renewing you fishing licences. Procivis is planning to use “smart contracts” powered by the blockchain technology to enable safety and security of the app. Their goal? To have a e-voting app delivered by next year and a digital national identity by 2020.

Why does blockchain offer such a great opportunity to disrupt government services?

The answer lies in blockchain key features:

  • immutability: a submitted transaction can never be changed on the ledger and this transparency may be a key feature for some businesses
  • security: it is virtually unhackable
  • enables self-sovereignty: the user can decide which data to share with third parties
  • cost-efficiency:  no central server is needed anymore
  • unmonopolizable and unstoppable

But then why has it been so scarcely adapted so far? As with many promising new technologies, blockchain is hindered by:

  • scalability issues
  • lack of understanding from people about how it works
  • missing regulatory guidance
  • issues with private key management (or how to generate and recover them)

Nonetheless, national blockchain initiatives are already on their way. Dubai and Georgia follow the steps of Estonia to digitalize their governments, South Korea has introduced a pilot project to digitalize insurance companies powered by blockchain. Malta and UK are investigating how their governments can benefit from it.

Will it be the “electric light” disrupting a world lit up by candles? Daniel Gasteiger believes it will be a breakthrough that will ultimately affect all of us. So, do continue to look and learn about it!

You want to see what else was discussed during the Innovation Leaders 2017 Conference ? Have a look below: