Land grab Governments may be big backers of the blockchain
An anti-establishment technology faces an ironic turn of fortune
IN THE hills overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, sits a nondescript building housing rows of humming computer servers. The data centre, operated by the BitFury Group, a technology company, was built to “mine” (cryptographically generate) bitcoin, the digital currency. But now it also uses the technology underlying bitcoin, called the “blockchain”, to help secure Georgian government records. Experts are eyeing the experiment for proof of whether blockchain technology could alter the infrastructure of government everywhere.
While the blockchain originally sought a foothold in financial services, and digital currencies attracted early attention from investors, now interest in using the technology in the public sector is growing. Brian Forde, a blockchain expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that governments will drive its adoption—an ironic twist for something that began as a libertarian counter model to centralised authority. Backers say it can be used for land registries, identity-management systems, health-care records and even elections.