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Blockchain Standards and GovernmentApplications

  • Physical Analytical Laboratories, Llc
Blockchain Standards and Government
Christiana Aristidou and Evdokia Marcou
80, Griva Digeni, Swepco Court 6, 2nd Floor, 3101 Limassol, Cyprus
Received 15 April 2019;
Accepted 10 July 2019
Many people talk about blockchain but very few understand its true nature and
potential. Blockchain seems very exciting yet simultaneously a bit confusing,
and naturally many people, businesses, and governments approach it with
high expectations while also exhibiting some hesitancy. This article will deal
with the use of blockchain in relation to government applications. A proper
assessment of such use requires a discussion on blockchain standards, which
are currently developed, or may develop in the future. Without blockchain
standards, any potential use of blockchain in government will be of limited and
restricted value. This would render our discussion on government applications
rather limited too. Standards enable us to appreciate blockchain applications
in a useful way for future applications outside the context of government.
Focusing our attention to government applications is deliberate. Blockchain,
obviously, provides amazing opportunities for the private sector. Over the last
years there has been widespread public disbelief in many public and gov-
ernment institutions. Corruption, fraud, lack of transparency, alienation and
disconnection of citizen from decision-making centres oblige governments
to change and offer proper governance conditions for their citizens. Further,
higher consumer expectations in all sectors of the economy naturally affect the
expectations of citizens vis-à-vis their governments. For the above reasons,
governments could leverage the positive features of blockchain to restore their
Journal of ICT, Vol. 7 3, 287–312. River Publishers
doi: 10.13052/jicts2245-800X.736
This is an Open Access publication. c
2019 the Author(s). All rights reserved.
288 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
reputation and efficiency towards citizens, by using blockchain. Of course,
governments can use blockchain for many of their applications. To decide the
proper application of blockchain within their operations, governments must
embark on a need-based approach. Standards are extremely useful in such a
need-based approach.
Keywords : Blockchain, Blockchain Standards, Government and Blockchain,
Government Applications.
List of Abbreviations
CEN European Committee for Standardization
CENELEC European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization
DLT Distributed Ledger Technology
ETSI European Telecommunications Standards Institute
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ITU International Telecommunication Union
1 Introduction
Blockchain has drawn considerable attention over the years, owing to its
unique features and tremendous potential. While the interest in this technology
increases, the amount of knowledge and understanding over it seems to remain
static, or at least not as developed as expected. Much of the scepticism
surrounding blockchain stems from its perception as a, mainly, financial
tool linked with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies [1]. Many people fail
to appreciate the fact that blockchain is a technology, itself belonging to the
family of DLT, which has no necessary connection with Bitcoin [1]. Indeed, it
is a technology that may be used outside the context of cryptocurrencies,
such as Bitcoin. Even where we appreciate blockchain for its potential
application in many sectors of the economy, and in many contexts within
the society, any blockchain use must be made with caution. Blockchain is still
a developing technology, and its decentralized nature has the capacity to cause
dramatic changes in the way transactions take place. All relevant and involved
constituencies will benefit from an organized and thought-through use of
blockchain. Naturally, governments will be called to address and leverage
blockchain to enhance their operation, while simultaneously deliberate over,
and prepare a regulatory framework that would accommodate blockchain.
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 289
Having the above in mind, in this article the potential and future of
blockchain in relation to government applications will be examined. Doing
this, we argue, presupposes a thorough discussion of blockchain standards.
Without such standards, the blockchain potential in Government applica-
tions and indeed any widespread blockchain application is significantly
hindered. Standards offer the conditions for a disciplined and standardized
use of blockchain. Further, standards are essential in relation to government
applications, because governments may appropriately decide the way to use
blockchain by embarking on a need-based approach. Standards are tailored to
such endeavor.
In the first part, we shall discuss certain general aspects of blockchain and
issues relating to government. This discussion will allow us to appreciate the
main operation of the technology of blockchain and the reasons for which
governments are in need of such technology. Following this, we shall focus
on the importance and even, as we shall argue the necessity of standards in
achieving consistent and widespread application of blockchain. Within the
scope of this section, the basic issues that need to be addressed via blockchain
standards will be examined. Further, potential governmental uses will be
discussed. Instead of offering a list of possible government applications, we
discuss that governments need to decide whether to integrate blockchain based
on a need-based approach, i.e. on their needs. This will then enable us to
appreciate the role of blockchain standards in government. We will argue
that standards are useful because they enable the efficient and meaningful
implementation of government applications by helping governments engage
in a much-required need-based approach. Also, the endorsement of standards
by the government will send positive signal towards markets and encourage
investment, especially considering the absence of regulatory framework. We
will demonstrate that standards enable governments to appreciate the issues
related to blockchain, and accordingly prepare plans for its proper integration
within the society, through for example, an appropriate regulatory framework.
Thus, standardization of blockchain is generally important, but particularly
important for governments.
The discussion of all the above issues will lead to the conclusion that
blockchain as a governmental tool should not be looked at as a distant
possibility. Indeed, it is to government’s benefit to prepare and implement
plans for use of blockchain within their operations, soon. This conclusion does
not oversee the potential problems associated with blockchain. Instead, this
conclusion is supported by the view that perfect solutions are unattainable.
However, any development and use of blockchain necessitates the creation
290 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
of standards that will accommodate and facilitate the widespread use of
blockchain. Therefore, while perfect solutions are illusory, governments
should take the importance of standards into consideration before proceeding
with the widespread implementation of blockchain.
2 Blockchain and Relation to Government
2.1 Explanation of Blockchain
We will not embark on a thorough examination and analysis of all the
mechanics, and the operational and technical details of blockchain. This has
been usefully discussed elsewhere with precision, and is outside the scope of
this paper. Still, a brief explanation of blockchain is useful for the purposes of
this paper.
Satoshi Nakamoto developed in 2008 a peer-to-peer form of electronic
cash that would enable electronic payments, without the engagement of trusted
third parties verifying the relevant transactions [2, p. 1]. In the relevant White
Paper, Nakamoto recognized the increased costs associated with electronic
payments due to the necessity of involving trusted third parties. Bitcoin was
then famously born. Since then, bitcoin has intrigued the public interest, and
has caused considerable debates, due to its novel and innovative operation.
Despite the initial focus on bitcoin itself, the technology underpinning its
operation seemed to attract interest on its own accord, in a considerably
increasing way. Blockchain, as this technology is known, constituted a subject
of discussion and interest, which extended well beyond the prospect of bitcoin.
Indeed, blockchain has gained traction as a potentially business-changing
technology [3].
Blockchain is an example of DLT. Blockchain is a ledger, but instead of
a traditional, paper-based ledger, it is digital. In this ledger, transactions are
recorded, and data are kept in a unique way due to the distributed and decen-
tralized nature of blockchain. Blockchain enables the instant and synchronized
replication and sharing of the state of the ledger to all blockchain participants,
the so-called “nodes”. To be sure, any update to the blockchain database
is immediately and instantaneously shared and distributed to all “nodes” in
the database who then need to verify the transaction through a consensus
mechanism process. The “nodes” verify the transaction by validating the
current block’s cryptographic hash. A hash is created on the block using an
algorithm. This hash “summarizes” all records of the previous blocks, on top
of the new block’s records. If this hash is validated, then the new block can
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 291
form part of the blockchain database taking its place on top of the last verified
block. This creates an immutable, irrevocable chain of blocks of transactions.
This inspires confidence and trust to all blockchain participants that the state of
ledger is kept in the same way within the whole database. The cryptographic
hashing function ensures the integrity of the data. Furthermore, blocks are
time-stamped, which enables blockchain data to function as chronologically
accurate evidence [4]. Blockchain enables the peer-to-peer execution of
transactions. The role of intermediaries is significantly reduced, or even
eliminated within this context. The validation of transactions does not rest
with a centralized authority, entrusted with this role, but with the participants
through their consensus. It seems that the combination of decentralization,
cryptographic block validation and transparency is what makes the blockchain
system work in this unique way.
The operation of blockchain as explained above offers significant benefits.
The consensus mechanism coupled with the distributed nature of blockchain
render tampering with blockchain data very difficult, in theory [5, p. 16].
This in turn increases the trusted nature of the database, in a way that
enables strangers to confidently transact with each other. Transparency is also
achieved, within a blockchain system. The peer-to-peer mode of blockchain
operation results in significant cost savings [example of cost-saving in land
registry area in [5], p. 14]. The fast and secure way of transacting and
information-exchanging on blockchain results in high efficiency gains.
It is easy to see that blockchain characteristics and resulting benefits
have the potential to disrupt existing models of transacting and revolutionize
the way various actors in society and economy interact with each other.
The potential of blockchain is truly tremendous. Prior to assessing how this
conclusion is particularly significant for government applications, it would be
useful to briefly discuss the concept of Smart contracts to offer a complete
picture of blockchain and its potential. It should be noted that Smart Contracts
will be analyzed in detail, as part of the discussion on blockchain standards.
Smart contracts help materialize the potential of blockchain [6, p. 22].
Smart contracts are computer codes that run on DLT, such as blockchain.
They contain certain conditions or instructions, as agreed between parties
or as deployed and used by a single party, and automatically execute, once
the set external trigger has indicated that the said conditions coded in the
smart contract are met. In other words, once triggered, smart contracts execute
without the need for any human intervention. Smart contracts are deterministic
and responsive in nature. They can strictly execute automatically only the
conditions that they contain. Therefore, not only do smart contracts benefit
292 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
from the characteristics of blockchain, but they also offer a further layer of
efficiency in the execution of transactions. It goes without saying that smart
contracts offer the potential for execution of agreements in a fast and automated
way that minimizes enforcement costs.
2.2 Blockchain Importance in Government
As explained, blockchain offers use opportunities, virtually for any industry.
It is, after all, a technology that may be tailored to the needs of various business
sectors and industries. We maintain that an extremely significant area, where
the use of blockchain becomes crucial, is the government [7, p. 12]. We trace
the necessity for governments to rapidly consider and assess the integration
of blockchain to their operations on two main pillars: (1) higher consumer
expectations, in general, which inform and enhance citizens’ expectations
towards governments and public institutions and (2) current loss of trust and
confidence of citizens in governments, with concomitant eroding effect on the
regime’s legitimacy.
Customers have become more sophisticated. Recent technological evo-
lution has irrevocably altered customer’s habits, and the expected, further
development in technology will continue to increase customers’ demands
regarding the services they receive. Indeed, a commentator has not only
highlighted the increasing customer expectations, but also the respective
gap engendered by the failure of many businesses to meet them [8]. Con-
venience, timesaving, cost-efficiencies are some of the main characteristics
that customers seek in their transactions. A prominent area which emerges as
particularly “customer-centric” is financial services, where the customer’s
evolving habits and need for efficient, speedy, and mobile services are
profound [9]. Amazon has also decisively influenced the way customers
approach their expected services [8]. Within this context, it is unsurprising
that businesses strive to provide seamless, personalized and efficient customer
services seeking to create unique customer experiences.
Governments provide various services to citizens, ranging from the pro-
vision of information and benefits, responses to their complaints, processing
of their applications, assessment of their documents, provision benefits etc.
It is hard to see how a well-informed, busy modern citizen, accustomed to
receiving efficient and convenient services of higher quality, will be satisfied
with services of inferior quality. In support of this, the UK Government
Office for Science has acknowledged that citizens’ expectations need to be
met by governments in similar ways as the rest of their expectations by
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 293
other organizations; governments must carry out their services in real time,
in a personal way, and in digital form [6, p. 25]. Further, Hancock has
referred to the citizens of the UK as the government’s customers [3]. Higher
customer expectations create more demanding and sophisticated citizens that
expect analogous behavior from their government. The bureaucratic govern-
ment machine, which is typically slow and inefficient, contravenes citizens’
expectations. For this reason, its operation requires serious reconsideration.
Potential disappointment of citizens in the governmental machinery is
possibly connected with a form of general disappointment in the public
institutions. Governments operate on a smooth and sustainable basis only
when they manage to exert trust and confidence from citizens. Such faith in
public institutions relates to the idea of political legitimacy. When a regime
is legitimate, its citizens are committed to it [On the link between legitimacy
and faith in public institutions see Weber, 1964, and legitimacy in general
see [10]]. Such commitment means that citizens generally obey the system’s
laws, they trust and have confidence in its operation, and do not undermine
or flout its authority. A state’s inability to inspire trust signals a breakdown
of legitimacy, which places states and societies at risk. Citizens are frustrated
and disappointed at a government operating slowly, inefficiently, and through
stiff bureaucratic processes. How can citizens trust in a government that fails
to deliver on its tasks? Even more profound instances of loss of citizens’
trust in their governments, include cases of corruption, fraud, and favoritism
involving politicians. There is a general disconnection of citizens from their
government for reasons that reveal a general disbelief and mistrust in the
transparency and operation of public institutions. The lack of trust in public
institutions raises questions about the regime’s legitimacy, and its ability to
inspire citizens’ general obedience to law.
In light of the above, it is easy to deduce that immediate changes need to be
instigated towards more transparent and efficient government. A more well-
functioning legal system that inspires citizens’ trust and confidence is likely
to be perceived as more legitimate, with wide-ranging benefits for the entire
regime. For these reasons we wish to stress the importance of the application
of blockchain in government.
2.3 Centralized Government vs. Decentralized Blockchain
The application of blockchain poses unique issues in relation to governments.
There is significant tension between the centralized nature of governments and
the decentralized nature of blockchain. Governments are centralized. There
294 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
are various degrees and instances of decentralization pursued in relation to
some governmental operations, but governments remain at large centralized.
Blockchain is decentralized. In fact, much of blockchain’s appeal rests on its
decentralization, whereby the need to engage intermediaries or centralized
authorities for verification purposes decreases. Reconciliation between the
two seems, prima facie, difficult to achieve.
As explained above, blockchain seems appealing for governments,
because it offers the opportunity to resolve issues of citizens’ lack of trust in
government’s operations. Governments introducing blockchain in an extreme,
open version with absolute decentralization would necessarily involve the
alteration of their typically centralized role in the lives of citizens. Indeed,
this is a blockchain vision pursued by “techno-libertarians” and “crypto-
anarchists”, [terms used by [11, p. 4]] who seek to marginalize the role of
states by rendering them “irrelevant” [11, p. 10 citing].
Atzori offers a forceful and convincing defense against the vision of an
“irrelevant” state, who is practically displaced by the force of decentralized,
peer-to-peer information exchange, and transaction systems. Atzori, in brief,
alarms that an extreme liberalist, techno-based society, where state’s role has
evaporated, endangers civil rights, and paves the way for the establishment of
oligarchies comprised of technology-expert entities. Without delving into the
moral, philosophical, and political reasons underpinning her defense, for the
purposes of this paper it merely suffices to note that potential implementation
of blockchain, realistically, theoretically and practically speaking, shall take
account of the existing institutional arrangements. Besides, despite the lack of
trust in some of government’s operation, it is disputable that businesses and
citizens would trust the “complex and opaque mechanisms” behind blockchain
[12, p. 39]. Governments still carry an authoritative role, which is for the most
part, trusted. Governments shall maintain their central role, at large and operate
within legitimate institutional confines. In this sense, this paper assumes no
radical institutional, political, and/or philosophical changes brought about
by the potential blockchain implementation. Instead, the assumption is that
blockchain will be used as a tool that will enhance governmental services
and operation in a way that will, ultimately, positively affect citizens’ view of
their governments. Blockchain technology does not create trust; [13, p. 360]
it merely operates as a means to achieving such trust.
The above discussion is compliant with the actual implementation of
blockchain, which may take various forms and types. Blockchain is not
applied in a uniform method. Instead, it may take various forms with varying
degrees of decentralization, and the database’s permission status. Blockchains
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 295
may be permissionless, or permissioned, depending on the arrangements
made in the particular blockchain database in relation to the members of the
database that will be participating in the process of block verification to create
consensus. Permissionless blockchain may be accessed by any participant
with a computer, whereas in permissioned blockchain certain arrangements
are usually made in relation to who are allowed to join the database and
verify blocks. The consensus mechanism, however, can be the same both
in permissionless and permissioned databases, although other arrangements
can also be made. For example, permissioned blockchains may be designed
to achieve specific purposes with specific consensus, control, access and
verification methods [14, p. 6].
Blockchains may also be public, consortium, or private. This refers to
the access in the blockchain database; public blockchains are fully open to
potential users while private blockchains usually restrict the use to certain
predefined users.
The main differentiating factor in this regard is the degree of centralization.
Public blockchain, typically permissionless as well, is the type associated
with Bitcoin, where access and validation are open to participants, achieving
high degree of decentralization. In private permissioned blockchain a trusted
entity controls the validation and writing of data permissions. Permission to
read data may be restricted by the controlling entity [15, p. 10]. Consortium
blockchain resembles private blockchain, but instead of being comprised of a
single controlling authority, it is controlled by a group. It is clearly seen that
the oxymoron of decentralized blockchain implemented within a centralized
government may be resolved by reference to the different blockchain design
options. Governments may retain their central role, by implementing private
permissioned blockchain databases, while reaping the blockchain’s benefits
of efficiency and transparency. This is a challenge, however, because as the
governments’ moving away from public premisionless blockchain to private
permissioned blockchain, involves and inherent risk that blockchain ends up
leveraged in a way that, does not improve transactions and processes and does
not provide efficiency and transparency [16].
3 Role of Blockchain Standards in Government
Clearly, blockchain’s potential cannot be overlooked in relation to govern-
ment. Not only are governments in need of reinstating their relationship with
citizens on firm grounds of trust and transparency but demands for govern-
ments’efficiency augment along with the increasing sophistication of citizens.
296 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
One should note, still, that there is concern that blockchain’s integration with
the public sector is premature, not least due to the still developing nature
of blockchain, as a technology [6, p. 10]. Various examples of governments
around the world investing, researching and even using blockchain are testa-
ment to the fact that blockchain has a role to play if not at the moment, then
surely in the near future. The Chinese government has undertaken important
initiatives with a view to developing blockchain for military purposes, the
UAE government seeks to run many of its operations on blockchain by
2020, [17, p. 25] while Estonia has already introduced blockchain within
its e-government framework. []
Of course, the concern of blockchain raising issues due its immaturity
is not entirely unfounded. Indeed, in our opinion there is some truth to this
concern to the extent that blockchain is approached by governments in an
undisciplined and haphazard means that omits serious consideration of the
complex issues that surround and underpin blockchain. For this reason, we
maintain that governments may be greatly benefited from the standardization
in the area of blockchain. Such standardization is extremely significant to
the successful and meaningful implementation of blockchain to government
3.1 Blockchain Standards in General
Market, industry and government actors agree on, and highlight the importance
of standardization in relation to blockchain [[4, 6, 7], Whigham, 2017 citing
Head of Digital Transformation Agency, Alexander Peter]. Standards are
developed for many industries as useful guidelines that impact and influence
various actors involved in these industries such as regulators, customers,
manufacturers etc. Also, standards may be produced in relation to new tech-
nologies. Standards constitute the product of lengthy deliberation, discussion,
and ultimately consensus of experts involved in an area, and while not legally
binding, per se, are highly influential to the operation and implementation of
the subject they are concerned with. Influential and well-respected standards
derive significant part of their authority from the processes they are subject
to, including peer review [18, p. 12]. In some cases, standards are explicitly
recognized by regulations and laws, and are thus granted the status of legal.
In contrast with legal rules, which are typically rigid and inflexible, standards
are viewed as flexible guidelines with rather general application on various
concepts and subject matters. Of course, this does not take away from their
robustness, when carefully produced.
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 297
Having in mind the above, it is unsurprising that many constituencies
involved and affected by blockchain call for its standardization. Currently, a
number of reputable standardization organizations are involved, and entrusted
with the review and/or preparation of standards addressing issues that relate to
blockchain. ISO, CEN-CENELEC, ETSI and ITU are leading the way, in this
regard. Beyond these well-established and reputable organizations, private
initiatives undertaken outside the context of standardization organizations
demonstrate the urgency in adopting blockchain standards. Three well-
known automobile corporations, Ford, GM and BMW, collaborate to ensure
interoperability in the automotive industry, as part of the so-called Mobility
Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) [17, p. 12]. The standards produced on a
supranational level, either at an international level, such as ISO and ITU or at
a European level, such as CEN-CENELEC and ETSI, are informative for the
purposes of this paper. Such standards enjoy respect and are targeted towards
alleviating problems encountered in society and businesses [18, p. 4].
Before discussing the main axes on which blockchain standards should
develop, it must be stated that standardization in an ever-developing tech-
nology, like blockchain, is an extremely demanding endeavor. Striking the
appropriate balance in terms of the timing in standards’ development is
equally difficult. Standards should be produced in a manner that elevates
the potential implementation of blockchain. Naturally, concerns emerge as
to the prematurity of standardizing blockchain [19, p. 19]. Standardization
should be developed soon enough, so as to prevent inefficient application of
blockchain, but not hastily, which would harm innovation. Different categories
of blockchain standards should, and are expected to develop within a spread-
out timeframe [20], considering the complexity of the issues involved, the
interconnection of the said categories, meaning whether a given category of
standards presupposes, or is facilitated by the development of another category
and the maturity of blockchain technology during the development of the
3.2 Blockchain Standards Categories
Consistent Terminology and Connection of Various Blockchain Concepts
Standardization should address fundamental concepts and components that
underpin blockchain. The innovative nature of blockchain raises concerns
over even its basic understanding. Lack of clarity and uncertainty in basic
terminology of blockchain are often cited as significant challenges preventing
298 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
blockchain’s implementation. It has been highlighted that in case of inno-
vations “common vocabularies and agreed definitions of terms” enhance the
confidence of investors and market actors impacted [21, p. 36]. Clarity as to
blockchain terminology, particularly innovative and disruptive as it is, should
not be underestimated. Indeed, development of any standards necessitates a
standard of blockchain terminology [7, p. 17]. A survey produced by RAND
Europe demonstrates that the task of offering standardized terminology and
vocabulary should be, preferably, completed first [21, p. 46].
ISO has introduced working groups devoted to the Foundations of
Blockchain, which encompasses specific standardization axes, including Tax-
onomy and Ontology. Broadly speaking, the former mainly entails issues
of identification, description, and classification of blockchain aspects and
components, while the latter attends to issues of the kinds, properties and
relations between these components within the blockchain system [22, p. 4].
Cumulatively, these categories strive to produce a consistent vocabulary of
components, and the connection between them. Another foundational issue
that merits consideration is the reference architecture standard. This standard
would allow the development and use of blockchain-based systems within a
standardized framework, operating under the same conditions [7, p. 16].
Terminology and interaction of blockchain components is of foundational
and fundamental value for blockchain standardization, which only serves as
indication of the expected difficulty in addressing them appropriately, even
more so where a developing technology is involved. Still, these aspects will
surely go a long way towards alleviating the confusion and inconsistency
currently encountered in relation to blockchain implementation.
An important risk emanating from a non-standardized blockchain environment
has already emerged with the appearance of many private blockchain systems
that follow their own rules and protocols. This results in a fragmented
ecosystem, where blockchain systems fail to communicate with each other [4].
This, naturally, hinders the widespread use of blockchain, as one system
managing to interact, communicate and interoperate with other systems would
entail costs and be unnecessarily difficult. Development of standards with
an overarching objective of interoperability of systems would alleviate
the problem of fragmentation [7, p. 19]. Blockchain has potential to create
efficiency gains, where it benefits from the network effect utility [23], citing
Millar Jeremy]. Niche and restricted uses of blockchain contravenes the vision
of meaningful adoption of blockchain on a grand scale.
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 299
Broadly speaking relevant data, protocols, standards, interfaces that relate
to the operation of blockchain need to be standardized to enable their
interaction. This will pave the way for cooperation and competition between
businesses. The main pillars of interoperability, in this regard, relate to data
connectivity and trust management. Interoperability is also crucial in enabling
and facilitating the interaction of blockchain systems with other technology-
based systems [20]. Given the globalised interconnection and interaction of
markets and countries, it is further suggested that interoperability is desirable
and should be pursued as a way of ensuring blockchain communication
between different countries.
Security, Privacy and Integrity
A significant challenge as to blockchain use obviously relates to issues of
security and privacy, as with all technologies.As explained above, blockchain
is praised for the enhanced security environment, within which it oper-
ates, due to instant replication of ledger data to all nodes, cryptographic
protection, immutability. However, blockchain is not immune to security
issues, considering the human factor involvement [17, p. 12]. Protection
and security of keys used for cryptographic purposes, as well as ensuring
the protection and non-tampering of data for privacy and integrity reasons
should, thus, be subject to specific standardization. It must be noted that
issues of security, privacy and integrity of data are connected with the type
of, and permissions to blockchain systems involved. Public, permissionless
blockchain are established on the basis of pseudonymity. Some argue that,
this might indirectly enable illegal activities or render the detection of such
illegal activities difficult. Permissioned blockchain might through its operation
prevent or at least minimize the occurrence of such activities. A standardized
approach would address these relevant issues. Further, standardization as to
security and privacy is also extremely important if technical interoperability is
to be achieved. Secure blockchain system operators would avoid connection
with systems prone to data manipulation, private details’exposure and security
issues. Anon-standardized environment would fuel hesitancy in operating with
systems for fear of security and privacy issues.
Governance of Data and System
Governance of data and blockchain systems should be subject to standardiza-
tion. Guidance about consensus and control mechanisms in tandem with audit
300 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
processes [21, p. 40] is extremely beneficial. As we explained above, there are
different types of blockchain, depending on permission, control, consensus,
access mechanisms. Governance on data impact the methods of managing
data, correcting data. System governance would also deal with responsibility
in case of potential breakdown in the integrity of blockchain or its data.
Governance refers to the processes and systems used to facilitate oversight
and decision making in any organization. Governance is a very important
function in a decentralized blockchain and particularly significant in case
of government. Governance applies to both permissionless and permissioned
blockchain. The need for governance for the latter is more obvious [24]. In the
context of government blockchain applications, as we explained above, gov-
ernance is significant; governments will retain their central role in blockchain
systems, despite the fact that blockchain offers decentralized potential. The
extent of government’s control, and the way access, consensus, viewing of
data will be handled are issues addressed via governance. In this sense,
governments will need to carefully assess governance, especially as their role
might transform, depending on further technology evolution. Depending on
the type of blockchain under implementation and the application type built
on top of that blockchain, blockchain governance may become even more
complex, and may possibly merit even further careful consideration, in case
of widespread blockchain implementation within the government.
Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are very challenging, not only in their standardization, but
importantly in their operation in compliance with existing laws and regula-
tions [26]. As explained, smart contracts elevate the performance potential
of blockchain. Their relationship with legally binding contracts has been
the subject of interest and legal review. Because of the complexity of the
legal issues involved, and the divergence of contract, business and consumer
law of different jurisdictions, standardization in smart contracts should avoid
focusing on matters closely connected with law [7, p. 20]. Still, clarity and
certainty are useful at a basic level.
3.3 Government Applications
The discussion above, centered around the main issues that standards would
need to address, demonstrates the way governments, businesses, consumers
may benefit from such standardization. These issues are of paramount
importance in fueling widespread blockchain implementation, without fear
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 301
of fragmentation and unnecessary operational complications. Within this
context governments benefit, too. Some governments have demonstrated their
willingness to approach blockchain in a controlled manner [6]. This, we
suggest, is facilitated by the operation of standards. Still, it is useful to examine
the specific importance of blockchain standards in relation to government. To
do so requires an examination of the potential of blockchain in government.
As already touched upon, above, blockchain provides the opportunity
for secure, efficient, fast and transparent transacting and data exchange.
As a general-purpose technology [13, p. 355], blockchain may be used by
governments for a wide range of their activities. Governments may ben-
efit with an intra-government implementation of blockchain but also on a
government-with-citizens or government-with-businesses interaction.
Due to the volume of potential blockchain government applications and for
the purposes of assessing the importance of blockchain standards, we would
not embark on a detailed account of government use cases [6]. A categorized
overview reveals the width of potential government use cases:
Data Storing – Data Sharing
Governments maintain huge records of data. Data of citizens, businesses,
but also governmental employees are currently held on databases, which
are not shared. Sharing data from one governmental department to another,
or between government and private entities entails costs, and time. Where
different government agencies require certain data, then these are duplicated
within different databases. Blockchain dispenses with the unnecessary manual
keeping of data in multiple copies, by enabling sharing features on an intra-
governmental-departments basis. Also, where the appropriate blockchain
design is chosen, blockchain may provide scalability to reflect the great volume
of such data. In this regard, a public permissionless blockchain would prove
inefficient, due to its scalability limitations although solutions are currently
under exploration. Further, much of data held by governments are sensitive
(such as health-related). With appropriate security standards, such data may
be protected and maintained, properly.
Identity Management
Blockchain has been enthusiastically accepted, not least due to its potential
to enable the secure identification of participants. The financial industry
anticipated the beneficial use of blockchain as a means of achieving KYC-
compliance through the identification, authentication and recording of clients’
302 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
details on blockchain [19, p. 18]. In a government’s context, citizens may
also be identified by the recording of their details on blockchain prior to
engaging with government. Citizens’ identity could be maintained and man-
aged on blockchain databases and become available to selected governmental
departments. Governments need to be able to unambiguously identify citizens
and stakeholders such as organizations, companies, associations, assets, if
they are to provide services to them [16]. In a similar way, any assets
sought to be transacted on blockchain need to be digitally identified. Identity
management is, in this regard, not only a use case in itself, but also enables
the implementation of blockchain in order to carry out other government
Tax Collection – Welfare Distribution
A significant part of citizens’ and businesses’ interaction with government
entails payments made between them. Blockchain provides important oppor-
tunities to streamline payments, while enabling the efficient distribution of
benefits and transparent collection of taxes [21, p. 2]. This, obviously, is not an
easy task from an implementation perspective, but if achieved, it will definitely
resolve issues of mistrust towards government agencies. At the same time, the
allocation of resources will be easier to maintain, for transparency purposes.
As it is discussed by Oliver Rikken, there seems to be two major hurdles
to effectively implement blockchain-enabled streamlined payments, while
enabling at the same time the efficient distribution of benefits and transparent
collection of taxes; first is the need to properly leverage smart contracts
towards that effect and secondly is the need of a stable coin that would be used,
otherwise such implementation would not operate successfully and would
probably not bring the required added value in cost savings etc [27]. In any
case, effective tax collection is instrumental to the operation of government,
while proper welfare distribution is at the core of government’s role as a
redistribution authority.
Supply Chain Management
An ambitious, yet possible blockchain implementation is in the sector of
supply chain. Disputes are quite common in relation to the circulation of goods
within a supply chain. This is possibly attributed to the entities involved in
the chain, the complexity of the potential legal issues that might arise and the
international aspect underpinning the supply process. Blockchain databases
may be updated by the relevant entity involved in each step and shared with
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 303
the rest of the participants for the purposes of tracking and controlling the
state of the relevant goods. Due to the audit trail securely maintained on
blockchain, disputes might be minimized and resolved more easily. Supply
chain management also exemplifies the potential of combining blockchain
with other technologies, such as the IoT, for tracking purposes. Governments
could make use of this application for these purposes. In a specific case study, it
was explained that in a supply chain and customs context, information sharing
between businesses and government could be facilitated via blockchain. In that
case study, it was carefully explained that the blockchain framework will be
designed under a specific architecture model that would enable the smooth
and seamless exchange of information [25].
Need-based Approach
The possibilities for government applications are vast. It is within this scope
that many identify the public sector, as a potential beneficiary of blockchain
technology [7, p. 12]. To select the appropriate blockchain application,
governments, we suggest, should embark on a need-based approach.We
stress, for these purposes, that blockchain implementation is not an objective
in itself, but merely a means for governments to carry out their operations.
Governmental decisions are expected to vary in relation to blockchain
implementation. All governmental decisions involve delicate deliberation
of all issues involved. Governments are accountable to the electorate body
and are obliged to follow prudent resource allocation. With this in mind, it
is expected that blockchain implementation by governments will follow a
process, whereby the public value of such implementation will need to be
evaluated relatively to the costs involved [13, p. 357].
Different countries have different needs, and priorities. Governments are
entrusted with meeting societal needs but also mandates, as they derive
from their government programs. Governments do not operate nor decide
in a vacuum; indeed, they make use of such technologies that reflect their
citizens’ and businesses’ needs, and which accord with their financial and
social conditions. Further, governments’ needs and challenges are not static
but are ever evolving. Priorities in countries pre-crisis were very different
from their priorities during, and post-crisis. Immigration in Mediterranean
countries was not as acute as in the past few years. Similar examples of
evolving government needs are countless and should remain so.
Another significant consideration that may impact the decision of
blockchain implementation and the extent of such implementation is the
assessment of existing infrastructure. In financial services, for example, the
304 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
disruptive nature of blockchain, and the necessity of ensuring blockchains
interoperation with existing technologies and infrastructure might hinder
blockchain implementation. While more and more countries seem to adapt to
the necessity of establishing frameworks that may accommodate ICT solutions
in delivering public services, divergence between different countries sustains.
Some countries may be unable to effectively implement blockchain due to
lack of general ICT development. On the other hand, it may be argued that,
countries that lack general ICT development or have no or little legacy may
find it easier to start from scratch. But even in countries with developed ICT
infrastructure, transition to blockchain might entail increased costs. Altering
existing structures for the mere purposes of implementing a newer technology
might not be worth it. Under the prism of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”,
well-established means and methods of serving governmental needs might be
preferably maintained over the introduction of blockchain. Transitioning to
blockchain should benefit governments in a way that existing infrastructure
fails to do so.
3.4 Importance of Blockchain Standards in Government
As explained above, blockchain standards have the potential to assist all indus-
tries in achieving successful, widespread, and meaningful implementation of
blockchain, not least due to the issues mainly addressed in the standardization
process, as discussed above. Standards offer certain added and unique benefits
in relation to governments.
(A) Consistent with need-based Approach
Standardization is a useful tool in government deliberation over examining
the need for blockchain implementation. Addressing citizens’and businesses’
needs is a complex process. Standards enable governments to appreciate
the issues involved, such as those explained above, and potential means to
address them. In this way, it facilitates them deciding on potential transition
to blockchain compared to their existing state of affairs. Citizens’ needs
might be catered more effectively with existing affairs, than with blockchain
implementation. It could be argued that, absent standardization, governments
might be led to engage in a need-based approach rather haphazardly, on very
speculative grounds as to costs involved and expected efficiency gains.
Further, a need-based approach takes account of the fact that specific
government applications prioritize different considerations. For example,
certain applications are necessarily connected with international aspects, such
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 305
as the case of supply chain management. Standards of international aspect
would cater the need of assessing blockchain implementation, in this regard.
Also, certain legal and regulatory conditions may influence the decision
of blockchain implementation. Standards may cater this consideration too.
Taking the example of privacy-related standards, such standards will impact
the adoption of blockchain in an EU-country in a very different way compared
to other jurisdictions. In the EU, following the GDPR coming into force,
entities, including governments, need to offer citizens the right to have
their personal details deleted. EU governments will need to take this into
account in their assessment of the relevant standards. Where offering this
option is inefficient, then EU governments may be restricted from apply-
ing blockchain in some cases. Governments outside EU will not face this
Standardization, also, enables governments to decide on the design of
specific blockchain applications for their needs. Control, permissions, and
other relevant issues are addressed via standardization. With this in mind,
governments may assess the specific design of their uses, according to any
needs, as they arise at a given point in time, and in relation to specific
cases. The spectrum of solutions is such that an examination of business and
security requirements as to the specific type of blockchain used is imminent
[p. 48]. In this regard, governments will be able to assess their role, and
accordingly decide the degree of centralization by reference to established
Importantly, the flexible nature of standards is in full compliance with the
ever-changing character of government needs. Standards are not rigid; indeed,
they should be sufficiently flexible [20]. In this way, government needs of today
but also of tomorrow may be assessed through the lens of the same standards, in
much the same way as government needs for a specific government application
may undergo comparable assessment with another application by reference to
the same standards. Flexible government assessment accords with standards’
flexibility. Of course, it is extremely significant to explain that standards are
not expected to remain the same and static. Indeed, the “continued utility
and legitimacy” of standards encompasses their systematic review [18, p. 37].
Governments’ role, if blockchain is to be implemented and deployed in its full
capacity, might change in the future. This will render existing standards inop-
erative or unhelpful to a significant extent. As government’s role progresses,
progress should be expected in relation to standards, which, however, will
maintain their role as an important point of reference.
306 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
(B) Market Confidence and Increase of Investment
The legal status of certain aspects of blockchain and smart contracts may raise
concerns which in turn may engender hesitancy and concern for markets in
relation to potential deployment of, or investment in blockchain. Endorsement
and embracing of standards by governments will not only assist govern-
ments in achieving their goals, but at the same time will positively signal
towards blockchain implementation. Confidence of markets in blockchain
will increase, considering that governments endorsing standardization offer
a degree of certainty and security as to blockchain implementation. Inter-
estingly, even stakeholders who favor laissez-faire and non-interventionist
government approaches, insist that blockchain deployment by governments
provide “institutional endorsement”, which is valuable [19, p. 27]. This
point cannot be stressed enough. Standards pave the way for alleviating
fragmentation of blockchain’s ecosystem, and further enhance the potential
for blockchain investment. Considering that governments seek to facilitate the
business environment and enhance the conditions for the increase of capital
investment, endorsing reputable, and carefully examined standards will surely
signal towards enhanced market confidence in blockchain.
Beyond the potential increase in investment, businesses may be prompted
to adopt similar blockchain uses, following the same standards having con-
fidence in governments’ option in using these standards. This will fuel the
widespread implementation of blockchain. Innovation and growth will, thus,
be achieved.
(C) Towards Regulation
Governments are instrumental in developing regulations. While blockchain-
specific regulatory and legal framework does not exist at the moment, it is
possible that the said framework will develop in time, subject, of course, to
the need of such a specialized framework. In many cases, existing legislation
and regulations could suffice in regulating blockchain. Standards should not
and cannot replace legislation [7, p. 16].
Subject to the limitation of standards falling short from operating as
substitute of legislation, they still provide the conditions for the adoption
of a blockchain regulatory framework. Future legislation may directly refer
to standards or direct and/or oblige industries to observe them. This pre-
supposes a certain degree of robustness and high quality of standards. In
this regard, standards that engage national delegates, involved constituencies,
beneficiaries and operate on consensus bases carry an increased degree of
Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 307
authority. Standards may offer technical support for regulation. Taking the
example of smart contracts, it is demonstrated that standardization will be
of great assistance for subsequent regulation. Smart contract standardization
is inadequate. As explained, smart contracts could raise issues in relation
to domestic pieces of legislation, such as contract law. The issues of legal
enforceability, legal construction and implementation of smart contracts in
any given jurisdiction will differ based on the domestic legal issues involved.
A standardized basis, however, will inform subsequent legislation on smart
contracts, despite the distinctions and special circumstances encountered in
different jurisdictions.
In general, blockchain standards will increase understanding over
blockchain. Politicians should seek to inform their agencies as to the nature,
importance and use of blockchain. A standardized version of blockchain
is likely to assist government leaders in their endeavor. Any government
applications deployed via blockchain should be used with confidence by the
government’s employees.
4 Conclusion
Blockchain’s appeal is undeniable. It is an innovative technology capable
of disrupting existing business models in a profound manner. The signifi-
cant benefits blockchain, generally, presents result in market and business
actors demonstrating considerable interest in grasping and integrating this
technology within their operations.
Naturally, governments are interested in assessing the potential of
blockchain. We have explained certain basic characteristics of blockchain,
and smart contracts, which are programs that assist in the carrying out of
transactions on blockchain. We have argued that blockchain use in government
is extremely useful, not least due to the decrease of citizen trust in government
and public institutions, and the constantly evolving expectations of citizens
in the quality of services they receive. Blockchain may offer the conditions
for a more secure, efficient and fast system of data storing and recording, and
A potentially conflicting circumstance regarding blockchain implementa-
tion to government, is the decentralized nature of blockchain, which contrasts
the centralized role of government. We have assumed, and strongly support, for
that matter, that blockchain implementation will take place within the confines
of existing institutional arrangements. This is possible, because blockchain
exists in different kinds with varying of control, access, validation methods.
308 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
Governments may leverage blockchain’s positive aspects to improve their role
and services and regain citizens’ trust.
We have maintained that blockchain standards are essential in govern-
ments’ potential implementation of blockchain. In general, standards enhance
the understanding, and offer useful guidelines over the subject they review.
Also, they are created following very robust processes. Blockchain standards
should focus on certain significant areas, because these will help address
fundamental issues underpinning its blockchain’s application. We have dis-
cussed these areas to demonstrate the importance of assessing basic areas in
Governments may use blockchain for many of their services and applica-
tions. We have focused on certain categories of these, such as data storing,
identity management, payment or collection of money, and supply chain as an
indication. However, due to the numerous potential government applications
of blockchain, we preferred to focus on the approach that governments must
always take in deliberating potential blockchain implementation, i.e. a need-
based approach. Governments must use blockchain where this is necessary
and helpful to achieve their citizens’ objectives. We maintained that standards
are very useful in assisting governments in their need-based approach. Also,
absent a regulatory framework, governmental endorsement of standards will
encourage investment in blockchain, while helping blockchain understanding.
This is crucial for governments to, ultimately, prepare a regulatory framework,
where and if this is necessary.
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Blockchain Standards and Government Applications 311
Christiana Aristidou is a technology and business Lawyer and litigator
with 22 years of practice. She holds an LLB (Athens-Greece) and three
(3) LLM degrees (Queen Mary College-UEA-UK). She also holds a Certifi-
cate in Digital Currencies (UNIC-Cyprus). Christiana has been heading the
Technology-Business Law Division of Democritos AristidouLLC for the last
17 years and as a certified legal project practitioner (IILPM) with exceptional
skills in comparative law, has advised numerous innovative complex business
and technology legal projects in all major legal jurisdictions. Christiana is a
national delegate to ISO/TC 307 with active participation in the drafting of
the technical specification for smart contracts and a member of ITU focus
Group on application of DLT. She is also a founding member and Vice-Chair
of Cyprus Blockchain Association (CBA). Christiana is a frequent speaker at
conferences and summits and a legal author with numerous articles published
in international legal databases, journals, magazines and the social media.
Evdokia Marcou has been working as a lawyer for the past year, after
having completed her studies in the UK. She holds an LLB from Queen Mary
University and an LLM from LSE. Her academic background and her dynamic
training enabled her to immediately take part in complex, multi-sectoral
312 C. Aristidou and E. Marcou
projects. She has been involved with corporate law, banking and finance,
and IP-related matters, while focusing, at the same time, on technology-
oriented issues. Within this context she conducts research in blockchain and
law, including blockchain-based uses and applications for public and private
sector, and participates in partner-led work on standardizing blockchain. She is
also involved in innovative start-up projects. She has provided legal opinions
and consultation on the areas of banking and finance, IP law, and corporate law.
Evdokia is driven, hardworking, and committed to constant self-improvement
and learning.
... This paper critically reviews the literature on the impact of blockchain technologies in fighting corruption (Aristidou & Marcou, 2019;Rien Agustin & Susilowati, 2019). We applied the systematic literature review (SLR) (Kraus et al., 2020;Tranfield et al., 2003) using Scopus database and the ABS journal ranking 'to identify, choose and critically appraise relevant pieces of research, and to generate collective insights of knowledge from past research' (Loureiro et al., 2019). ...
This paper proposes a systematic literature review emphasising scholars' view on the impact of the adoption of blockchain technologies to fight corruption. Providing a deep understanding of the state of the art, the paper drafts implications and valuable insights to address future research. The connection of anticorruption policies and blockchain technologies has been investigated using Scopus database and ABS journal ranking. The importance assumed by anticorruption policies and the innovativeness of the blockchain technology, thanks to its characteristics of immutability, automatic timestamping and distributed architecture, needs to be investigated in an integrated perspective. This study provides for the first time a systematic connection among anticorruption practices and blockchain towards the lens of the business, management and accounting field, providing valuable implications, insights and emerging issues.
... Each type of rhetorical strategy is risky for firms and other advocates in the crypto context because opponents will also utilize it to resist the adoption of crypto; but historical rhetoric is particularly so. Opponents of crypto can lean on the historical logic of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' by pointing out that, at least in the developed world, we already have a well-functioning currency and it has served us well for an extended period of time (Aristidou and Marcou 2019;Whitfield 2018). Knowledgeable opponents may correctly point out that the United States initiated a system of decentralized currency in the mid-1800s, and this so-called Free Banking Era was a failed experiment (Dwyer 1996). ...
How can cryptocurrency gain legitimacy in the eyes of users? Drawing upon the theories of institutional uncertainty and legitimacy, we propose a process model in which legitimacy for cryptocurrencies acquired at the market level via rhetorical strategies (i.e. evasive action) will reduce uncertainty in the formal institutional environment. This reduction in institutional uncertainty will beget additional legitimacy, and thus higher performance for individual crypto firms, on average. This study (1) advances institutional entrepreneurship research by investigating the legitimation process of cryptocurrency; (2) extends our understanding of the evolution of an innovation and its diffusion under institutional uncertainty; (3) contributes to the development of institutional theory by elucidating how cryptocurrencies can change existing institutions, and even create new ones, through evasive entrepreneurship; and (4) provides an overall theoretical rationale for how cryptocurrency can become more widely accepted.
... Reference [12] explain the complex and confusing nature of people, business and government approaches to Blockchain Technology (BCT) and their hesitant misconception and association with the bitcoin cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology has applications that do not only include cryptocurrencies. ...
... Initially, blockchain technology was developed for the transaction of bitcoin, a digital currency. Then, blockchain technology found its application into areas such as the finance sector (Smith and Dhillon 2019), healthcare (Alam Khan et al. 2020), government (Aristidou and Marcou 2019), and online payments (Zhong et al. 2019). With the introduction of globalisation, supply chain management has transformed into a multi-fold structure. ...
Blockchain, emerging technology, has immense potential to transform supply chain activities. Though blockchain offers more benefits, industries face many challenges in blockchain adoption. This paper aims to develop a framework to identify and evaluate various challenges in adopting blockchain in supply chain management. First, 40 prominent challenges to blockchain adoption were identified using the fuzzy Delphi technique. The challenges were then assessed using an integrated methodology that included the grey-decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory (DEMATEL) and the weighted aggregated sum product assessment (WASPAS) method. Case studies of five leather garment manufacturing companies were conducted to test this integrated strategy. To ensure the proposed framework's robustness and viability, a sensitivity analysis was performed. Results indicate lack of knowledge about blockchain technology, non-existence of universal regulatory binding, new organisational policies, reputation-based attack, and vulnerable to cyber-attack as the top five challenges faced by the leather garment manufacturing companies. This study imparts the knowledge, significance and challenges in adopting blockchain technology in supply chain management. The outcome of this study provides structural assistance to the managers by exposing the cause-and-effect group challenges in blockchain adoption. By understanding the cause and effect relationship among the challenges, industrial practitioners may devise adequate strategies.
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Blockchain is the technology used by developers of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, to enable exchange of financial “coins” between participants in the absence of a trusted third party to ensure the transaction, such as is typically done by governments. Blockchain has evolved to become a generic approach to store and process data in a highly decentralized and secure way. In this article, we review blockchain concepts and use cases, and discuss the challenges in using them from a governmental viewpoint. We begin with reviewing the categories of blockchains, the underlying mechanisms, and why blockchains can achieve their security goals. We then review existing known governmental use cases by regions. To show both technical and deployment details of blockchain adoption, we study a few representative use cases in the domains of healthcare and energy infrastructures. Finally, the review of both technical details and use cases helps us summarize the adoption and technical challenges of blockchains.
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To ensure public safety and security, it is vitally important for governments to collect information from businesses and analyse it. Such information can be used to determine whether transported goods might be suspicious and therefore require physical inspection. Although businesses are obliged to report some information, they are reluctant to share additional information for fear of sharing competitively sensitive information, becoming liable and not being compliant with the law. These reasons are often overlooked in the design of software architectures for information sharing. In the present research, we followed a design science approach to develop a software architecture for business-to-government information sharing. Based on literature and a case study, we elicited the requirements an architecture that provides for the sharing of information should meet to make it acceptable to businesses. We then developed the architecture and evaluated it against the requirements. The architecture consists of a blockchain that stores events and rules for information sharing that are controlled by businesses. For each event, two parties use their private keys to encrypt its Merkle root to confirm that they know the data are correct. This makes it easy to check whether information is reliable and whether an event should be accepted. Access control, metadata and context information enable the context-based sharing of information. This is combined with the encryption and decryption of data to provide access to certain data within an organisation.
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In this chapter we provide an overview of the concept of blockchain technology and its potential to disrupt the world of banking through facilitating global money remittance, smart contracts, automated banking ledgers and digital assets. In this regard, we first provide a brief overview of the core aspects of this technology, as well as the second-generation contract-based developments. From there we discuss key issues that must be considered in developing such ledger based technologies in a banking context.
La versione italiana di questo documento e disponibile al seguente link: core technology of Bitcoin, the blockchain, has recently emerged as a disruptive innovation with a wide range of applications, potentially able to redesign our interactions in business, politics and society at large. Although scholarly interest in this subject is growing, a comprehensive analysis of blockchain applications from a political perspective is severely lacking to date. This paper aims to fill this gap and it discusses the key points of blockchain-based decentralized governance, which challenges to varying degrees the traditional mechanisms of State authority, citizenship and democracy. In particular, the paper verifies to which extent blockchain and decentralized platforms can be considered as hyper-political tools, capable to manage social interactions on large scale and dismiss traditional central authorities. The analysis highlights risks related to a dominant position of private powers in distributed ecosystems, which may lead to a general disempowerment of citizens and to the emergence of a stateless global society. While technological utopians urge the demise of any centralized institution, this paper advocates the role of the State as a necessary central point of coordination in society, showing that decentralization through algorithm-based consensus is an organizational theory, not a stand-alone political theory.
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone.
The Potential Role of Standards in Supporting the Growth of Distributed Ledger Technologies/Blockchain
  • Rand Europe
RAND Europe, The Potential Role of Standards in Supporting the Growth of Distributed Ledger Technologies/Blockchain, available at [Accessed 30/05/2019]
Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond Blockchain
  • U K The
  • Government
The UK Government Office for Science (2016). Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond Blockchain, report available at government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/492972/gs-16-1-distributed-ledger-technology.pdf [Accessed 30/05/2019]