During the week of Gitex 2019 the UAE Ministry of Community and Development made several announcements one of which was the launch of their blockchain challenge. UNLOCK spoke with Saeed Abdulla Digital Advisor for the Ministry to learn more about the challenge and the many blockchain related implementations happening within the Ministry.
With regards to the Blockchain challenge Abdulla explained, “We at the Ministry developed this challenge to help bring ideas and solutions for the social issues facing the UAE including solutions pertaining to senior citizens, social awareness, family issues, and civic associations. We are doing this because the UAE aims to have 50% of its services on the blockchain by 2021.” As for the challenge itself, Abdulla states, “We want all to work with our business units to find solutions utilizing blockchain and we are open to any blockchain platform. There are three prizes with financial rewards ranging from 30,000 Dirhams to 20,000 and 10,000. We are looking for teams that include a UAE national in addition to any other nationality and judges will be from within the Ministry, education sectors, Dubai Blockchain center and others.”
The Ministry is also one of the first governmental entities in the UAE to implement several blockchain enabled projects. The first one pertains to the “Mashghal” e-commerce portal that sells handmade crafts and not only on the portal but also on Noon e-commerce website. According to Abdulla the Ministry implemented blockchain for its loyalty points on the portal. He stated, “There are some items on the portal that can only be received through loyalty points and we have placed our loyalty points on the blockchain using NEM blockchain platform through Proximax. We chose Proximax because they offer a fully integrated solution with the ability to integrate with backend systems using APIs. We have also worked with them on other offerings including our blockchain voting solution and our certificate authentication process.”
The Ministry of Community and Development also developed another use case that allowed customers to pay for the handcraft products using cryptocurrencies on both POS system as well as the website. Abdulla explained, “Today purchasers can pay using BTC, Eth, and Litecoin and we just launched this at Gitex with the collaboration of Dubai Blockchain Center. These are valuable items and all can be purchased using crypto.”
As if all this was not enough, the Ministry is working on a new use case for blockchain in voting. As Abdulla explained, “Many non-profit organizations carry out yearly assembly meetings and vote, so we developed a blockchain voting solution for them and had a soft launch in August. Each vote is placed on a blockchain and each voter has their own wallet. We developed this as well with Proximax and utilizing blockchain NEM we have increased trust, transparency, and saved on paper and time instead of counting votes by hand using paper.”
In addition the Ministry has developed Blockchain certification solution for their legal documents that are issued by the Ministry or used internally. So if you receive a document from the Ministry, you can verify it through upload functionality or barcodes. Abdulla states, “We issue yearly more than 40,000 social welfare certificates that can now be used and sent to any governmental entity over pdf and be authenticated and verified on the spot.”
Finally the Ministry has also utilized blockchain to authenticate logs. As explained by Abdulla, “Every year the Ministry provides financial assistance worth 3 billion dirhams to entities and families. We are ensuring that when an application is processed on the CRM it is logged on the blockchain and the blockchain becomes a second eye to ensure that no boundaries were overstepped or privileges abused in the process. This use case can actually be applied as well in other Ministries.” He adds apostile which is a French word meaning certification is attached to your original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic. This has been one of the most successful uses cases within the Estonian government and we believe it serves a strong business need here as well.”
UNLOCK also spoke with the CEO of Proximax Lon Wong, Founder and CEO to talk about their work with Ministry of Community and Development and their plans in the MENA region. According to Wong “ I have from the beginning been a strong proponent of NEM but realized early on the blockchain alone cannot solve issues and that what is needed is integration and APIs with backend systems, storage system, smart contracts all put together in a stack box. So one of the best features of Proximax is that we provde the whole solution.”
Proximax which has been working closely with the Ministry of Community and Development is looking to open an office in the UAE either in ADGM or in DIFC.
Proximax is already well established in Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia and has launched the first mobile wallet powered by blockchain to manage digital assets. Wong hopes to continue to work with governmental entities in the UAE and region to implement their blockchain solutions.