The Canadian government is testing out the use of blockchain tech to improve transparency in government funding.
Specifically, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) is sharing information about funding and research grants for its Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) in real time via the Catena Blockchain Suite, which is built on the Ethereum blockchain.
For Canada’s blockchain trial, every time the NRC creates or alters a grant, that information is added to the blockchain, which will be connected to a publicly accessible online database.
Besides elevating transparency between the government, research organizations, and the public, Canada’s blockchain trial also increases security. Data on a blockchain is stored in encrypted blocks that are managed by a decentralized global computer network. Essentially, this setup renders the data unalterable.
The NRC likely chose the Ethereum blockchain for several reasons. It is one of the most established blockchain technologies in existence right now, and unlike the blockchain supporting the bitcoin cryptocurrency, the Ethereum blockchain can run smart contracts, which gives it far more utility.
Canada’s blockchain trial isn’t wholly unique — a number of other nations are looking for ways to integrate blockchain technology into their operations.
Australia is expected to begin using blockchain to clear and settle trades on its stock exchange in March, at which point it will become the first nation to have a blockchain-based stock exchange. Meanwhile, Estonia is exploring ways to use blockchain to support its e-residency program and is even considering the possibility of creating its own cryptocurrency.
By using blockchain to add transparency to its funding efforts, Canada can both establish trust with the public and potentially get citizens more involved in the process. For example, a person may notice a certain area of research is being neglected and be inspired to reach out to their representatives about the issue.
With a blockchain, the viewer will know that what they are seeing is accurate, and given the amount of misinformation available on the internet, that alone is a major benefit of the initiative.
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.