Academics work on cryptocurrency solutions for government

A London academic institution will work with government organisations to help them use “cryptocurrencies” such as Bitcoin to transform services, it has announced.

Professsor William Knottenbelt is director of the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering (IC3RE) at London’s Imperial College – established in September to explore how the technology can have applications beyond digital currency.

He said this week that the centre will study how the public sector could benefit from the rise of the money technology.

Professor Knottenbelt said: “Just as the industrial revolution and the internet spawned innovation, so too will this technology, opening the doors for new business models to be developed and helping existing companies improve the way they do business and the way communities live their lives.”

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Cryptocurrencies enable alternative financial frameworks that support global transactions without the need for a bank. There are now more than 200 cryptocurrencies in existence.

To work, they rely on a distributed computerised ledger allows users who do not know or trust each other to automatically keep track of who owns what. The architecture makes it extremely difficult for fraud to be possible.

The professor claimed that applying the technology to transactions such as property ownership could “revolutionise how governments and businesses operate and how citizens carry out their lives”.

The multi-disciplinary team at the centre says it will carry out the underpinning policy, technology, design and social research with governments and industry to enable its smooth transition into the wider economy. The centre is also exploring ways of using distributed ledgers within local and national government.

For example, the technology could enable government agencies and departments to share data more effectively, reducing costs, the centre believes.

It claims that it could also enable local authorities to improve transparency for citizens and open up new channels for interaction.

Dr Catherine Mulligan, assistant director of the centre, said: “The opportunities are limitless and work at the centre aims to make the adoption of distributed ledger technology by society as smooth as possible.”

Colin Marrs

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