Biggest Industries for Blockchain in GCC, Financial, Government and Health Services

UNLOCK recently interviewed Dr. Raymond Khoury, Executive Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton MENA region to talk about Blockchain and how it will disrupt the GCC region. Booz Allen recently published a report on “Blockchain Technology can the GCC Digital Economy thrive without it.” According to Khoury, “Blockchain technology is just a part of a bigger transformation that is being driven by trends such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Machine Learning and IoT. When it comes to Blockchain, it is a secure mesh network that allows people and machines to exchange value securely.”

Khoury believes that Blockchain is here to stay regardless of the current impediments in terms of transacting speed. As Khoury explained, “ Blockchain is here to stay, the only impediment that remains is its transaction speed, what is reassuring is the billions of dollars being invested today in startups which will create a faster more efficient service.”

Today although Dubai is on track with implementing Blockchain in the government services, it is important to note that as per Khoury, “Not all transactions can be placed on the Blockchain there will remain some that still need paper, plus there are a lot of dependencies for Blockchain to succeed one of which is digital signatures that can be trusted and accepted by the courts.”

In a Smart City environment, Blockchain can be used to trigger objects off and on the network and one of the most important features is smart contracts As Khoury stated “Dubai could incorporate smart contracts into all its Expo 2020 contracts making it easier and more governable. In addition Blockchain could also be used in construction fulfillment of building certificates when there are a lot of parties involved.”

Khoury also sees a role for Blockchain in health records and most importantly financial service sector. As he explained,” There is already a lot of investment in Blockchain within the financial services sector almost a billion dollars especially in Fintech, then we see government services as a second big industry for Blockchain implementation and finally healthcare. As for education it is a touchy call because it means we will have to change the curriculum in order to aggregate grades”

While Dubai leads in terms of government support for Blockchain and its implementation, other governments are quickly following suite. Booz Allen has been in discussions for the past 4 months with the Abu Dhabi government. As Khoury states, “Abu Dhabi takes its time to rationalize matters while the driving force in Dubai is building on its smart government initiative. In the end Dubai Blockchain will eventually migrate to federal level because the Central Bank will need to become involved especially when smart contracts fall into the mix.”

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Blockchain is now being built into its nationwide digital transformation strategy. As Khoury stated, “KSA is moving forward with its national digitization plans, just yesterday they allowed VOIP calls, and now Blockchain is being embedded. Even GCC Central banks are trying to align on what disruptive technologies they will bring to GCC banking.”

Today Booz Allen is working on many digitization projects within the MEA region, be it in education, health, retail, transportation, and energy. “ We are working on smart energy grid project in KSA, we were part of the design, procurement and now implementation, this will help KSA optimize its distribution of power and create better efficiencies in this sector”, adds Khoury. He explains, “We work as practical strategist where we not only develop the strategy, but also are involved in implementing it.” 

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