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Artículo What is blockchain? An untapped technology that could change the future of international relations Culture



Blockchain = a chain of blocks. But what's inside these blocks?

Anna Freeman

26 Marzo 2018 16:29

Blockchain is a term that's on the rise. A few months ago, a US company on the brink of collapse decided to change its name: it was called Long Island Iced Tea Corp, but then became Long Blockchain Corp. A mere few hours after the name change, the company’s share price had shot up by 289%. Seemingly, anything that is associated with the famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin goes up in value. However, blockchain isn’t just associated with Bitcoin, but rather blockchain supports Bitcoin. And although it is Bitcoin currently getting all the attention, the tides could soon change.

Blockchain still hasn’t reached the wider public. Maybe because its moment still hasn’t arrived, or because people don’t truly understand it - or because it could threaten the interests of certain sectors within society. When blockchain’s day finally arrives, the world will see drastic changes. There are many people who believe that blockchain is silently plotting a genuine revolution.

Blockchain has been around since 1991, but its full potential probably won’t be harnessed until nation states take an interest. There are currently three countries paving the way for a genuine blockchain takeover: Estonia, United Arab Emirates and Sierra Leone.

Estonia is being called ‘the blockchain nation’. In this Baltic country, where Internet access is a human right enshrined into law, its ‘healthcare registry’ is already up and running. Estonians can access their medical records and see exactly which professionals they’ve seen, and when and where. It can’t be falsified because it runs on blockchain. Estonia has also created the e-Residency programme, the Mothership project and are planning their own cryptocurrency, the ‘estcoin’. Estonia wants ‘to be the best place for blockchain companies’ and is strongly committed to achieving it.

In Dubai, the UAE’s metropolis, 30 bitcoins can buy you a luxury apartment in one of the most sought-after areas. In fact, in Dubai, operating with bitcoins is commonplace. However, the Pearl of the Gulf wants to go further: it has plans to be the first government to run entirely on blockchain by 2020. This will make its performance more efficient, quicker and more robust. The city is also planning to link up all tourism businesses with blockchain. This will mean that visitors have access to transparent, real-time prices which can’t be manipulated.

Sierra Leone became the first country to certify elections using a blockchain verification system. This happened in the presidential election this year, with proceedings being monitored by a Swiss company. ‘I strongly believe that this election is the beginning of a much larger blockchain voting movement,’ said Leonardo Grammar, CEO of Agora. The country hopes that blockchain will eradicate electoral fraud once and for all, but this will require willingness from politicians.

Apart from these countries, there are many others who are nurturing blockchain: Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Russia, Cyprus, Singapore, to name a few. Heads of state feel confident that exploring and tapping into this unknown technology could mark the new status quo of international relations in the future. Blockchain has been born and seems to be a game-changer.