I just returned from the Unlock Blockchain conference in Dubai where I participated in one panel, moderated another, and had a chance to talk with many members of the Dubai blockchain ecosystem. It has been widely announced that Dubai intends to become the Blockchain capital of the world. Indeed, the city state of Dubai has committed to put its government processes on the blockchain by 2020. And, when you are in Dubai you get the feeling that everything is possible! The government is aligned with professionals in private industry to create the blockchain-enabled solutions that will transform this City, including several of the experts on the panel which I moderated.
My panel, entitled, “Blockchain the Essential Ingredient for Smart Cities of the Future,” focused on key topics integral to building a smart city underpinned by blockchain technology, namely: identification, security, payment systems, and trade and commerce.
David Kravitz, vice president of Crypto Systems Research at DarkMatter, explored how the blockchain can inoculate against massive security breaches. He expressed caution regarding devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), suggesting that close attention be paid to data pickup from devices to ensure it has been appropriately authorized. He added that integrity verification of retrieved data is arguably more important than ensuring data confidentiality.
Waqas Mirza, managing director and CMO of Avanza Solutions, shared his groundbreaking work in Dubai to deliver a blockchain solution for city-wide payment reconciliation and settlement. Stakeholders in this ambitious project include the Dubai government and its 40+ associated government entities, plus 15 banks. The project connects the private and government sectors to accelerate reconciliation, and increase transparency and efficiency in payment systems.
Issa Chini, co-founder and chief strategist from miCity, illustrated how government can harness blockchain technology to manage its citizens’ identifications securely and efficiently. He shared how MiCity has developed a secure visitor management and authentication platform to permit frictionless interaction with government entities. miCity’s smart concierge service is being rolled out now.
Finally, Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger offered a unique perspective on how blockchain technology can create new and evolving ecosystems anchored by ethical trading practices. Evergledger’s initial focus has been registering diamonds on a blockchain to record diamonds’ provenance. Leanne explained how blockchain technology can effectively connect disparate parties up and down the supply chain, as well as across borders to create wholly new ecosystems comprised of parties that had not previously done business together. She emphasized Dubai’s potential to contribute to, and benefit from, the diamond ecosystem due its outsize role in the global diamond trade.
My visit to Dubai was a real eye opener! Blockchain is coming alive in Dubai. We will soon see how the technology impacts people’s lives for the better. Hopefully, Dubai’s incursion into blockchain technology will encourage other jurisdictions to deploy blockchain technology to improve the lives of its citizens and society at large.