Dubai is a city known for its extravagance and technology. Flying taxis, water jet firefighters, and robotic police are all parts of its current reality or future. It would not be a surprise if they were simply looking into smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, but what many may not realize is that they also plan on being the world’s first blockchain-powered government.
Dubai as a Blockchain City
There are some immediate and obvious advantages to getting much of a nation’s citizenship and other tedious documents which require extensive reconciliation between various organizations onto a blockchain. Distributed, decentralized ledgers offer numerous benefits for this kind of recordkeeping.
Dubai plans to make the majority of city documentation powered by smart contracts by the year 2020. This is ambitious, but not impossible. The various items that will find their way onto the blockchain by then are: visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals. Essentially, anything that currently requires paperwork will likely end up on the blockchain between now and 2020.
This makes an incredible amount of sense, and the amount of money saved by cutting down on man-hours and labor costs is significant.
Culturally Appropriate Coins
While many may assume that these smart contracts and the associated data will be written on a public, already widely-used blockchain, we may need to reconsider. There are many reasons why new cryptocurrencies may be more attractive to governments, such as Dubai’s, over others. Namely, there are coins like DubaiCoin (DBIX), which was built and developed by residents of Dubai. One must also consider the fact that Islam (the majority religion in the UAE) also has its own set of financial laws, which would make a locally created coin a more culturally appropriate choice for a predominantly Islamic city.
Please note that this is only a guess, as the Dubai government has not yet announced which blockchain(s) it will employ to facilitate these smart contract functions. Do not take this as financial advice.
Other Governments Hold Their Breath
At the end of the day, this is going to be an incredibly valuable dry run for the rest of the world. This will demonstrate just how effective blockchain technology can be for solving the many challenges that national governments face.
Once the example has been set, the benefits made apparent, and the pitfalls identified, this is going to be a great blueprint for other governments and cities to follow. While the cost of spinning all of this up may be a bit beyond the means of many governments for a while, the price of blockchain adoption will surely decrease the more widespread it becomes.
We should all be excited about this.