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UAE 9th Government communication forum discusses blockchain

To explore the impact of blockchain technology on communications and its various ramifications, the ninth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2020) being held at Expo Centre Sharjah, hosted a session on ‘Communication in the blockchain era’ on the inaugural day. Led by Kris Bennett, Chief Learning Officer, Blockchain Training Alliance, USA, the session simplified for the audience the role the technology plays in the field of communications, customer engagement and customer relations.

Bennett began with an introduction to the new technology. He said: “Blockchain has picked up pace since it surfaced around 2009 as the underlying platform for Bitcoin exchange. It has now evolved into a mainstream technology. It finds application in various fields. Whether it is healthcare or finance, you can find many companies venturing into blockchain technology and developing blockchain-based applications that will help in making the business operations more transparent and efficient.”

He cited the case of IBM as one of the pioneering companies to venture into blockchain to create a platform for transparent business operations. “IBM has a separate division which only focuses on creating blockchain-based applications, and is said to have developed a more efficient consent mechanism.”

From there to the launch of its blockchain security testing service, IBM has spearheaded the rise of enterprise blockchains. According to Bennet, “Organisations are seeing real efficiencies and cost savings from its use.”

Deloitte’s 2018 global blockchain survey found that 95 per cent of companies across various industries were investing in blockchain tech projects.

Bennett further noted: “All of that indicates a rosy outlook for blockchain growth. Enterprise (also called private) blockchains and public blockchains share several characteristics. Both consist of a distributed peer-to-peer network, which is governed and maintained through a consensus protocol. Both types also provide some level of immutability of the network to prevent malicious attempts by individual participants to manipulate the data stored on the blockchain.”

The key difference between the two is who can participate in the network, have access to the information on the blockchain, and be able to write on it and execute transactions, and to participate in its consensus protocol.

“Public blockchains are open for anyone to join and that is why they are often referred to as permission-less blockchains. Public blockchains are more decentralised and no one entity has absolute control over the governance of the network,” said Bennet, emphasising that enterprise blockchains were the future within the communications landscape.

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