Blockchain is a major disruptor in terms of how the world will conduct business and governance going forward. At this point, it seems that any country without plans to adopt it will be left behind. So which countries have embraced blockchain technology, and what are they doing to foster its growth? Continue reading to learn some of the major national players in blockchain technology, and what their recent history with blockchain has been.
Despite placing bans on crypto-mining and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in the past, China is now extremely bullish on blockchain. Their most recent project is the Blockchain Service Network (BSN) which aims to be a world-wide platform for developing decentralized applications. The BSN will allow anyone — whether an individual or company — to utilize tools for constructing decentralized applications. It essentially acts as a managed platform that reduces the costs and effort associated with starting blockchain projects.
In other words, China will be offering blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS), similar to the current tech trend of providing software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Even though the underlying principle behind blockchain is decentralization, China’s approach to BSN is, unsurprisingly, centralized. In fact, most governments seem to favor blockchain mainly for modernizing digital infrastructure and tracking large-scale transactions better. Still, China’s implementation of the BSN is a huge step towards the mass-adoption of blockchain technology. China also plans to release its own virtual currency.
Most of the U.S.’s current efforts to prepare for blockchain adoption are in the form of regulation. Criminals notoriously use cryptocurrencies to conduct illegal business transactions that are hard for governments to track. For this reason, the U.S. implemented the Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program (CIP) to investigate these operations.
Furthermore, the U.S. now requires crypto transactions conducted over exchanges to be reported to the IRS for tax purposes. Providing guidance to the government for regulating digital assets is now a job for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
As of July 2019, the U.S. government passed the Blockchain Promotion Act which seeks to develop a standard definition and framework for blockchain technology.
All of these activities prove that the U.S. sees blockchain technology as legitimate and inevitable. It’s also one of the best nations for blockchain projects to form, given the fact that the U.S. is home to the biggest tech companies in the world.
Malta is a small European island with huge blockchain dreams. Over the last few years, it has established itself as the biggest host for blockchain startups. In fact, Malta is so bullish on blockchain adoption that it has been named “Blockchain Island.” Several successful blockchain businesses call Malta home, including the biggest crypto exchange in existence today known as Binance. After Binance formed in Malta in 2018, a handful of other blockchain companies followed suit.
Three Maltese laws were signed into action in 2018 that support the growing blockchain industry: The Malta Digital Innovation Authority Bill (MDIA), The Technology Arrangements and Services Bill (ITAS), and the Virtual Financial Assets Bill (VFA). Each of these bills adds a new regulatory framework for businesses like Binance to form in Malta.
Another country with a flashy blockchain nickname is Switzerland, deemed “Crypto Valley” due to its open-armed acceptance of blockchain-based startups. A Swiss region known as Zug is the hotspot for blockchain businesses. Crypto Valley’s enthusiasm may also expand further north into Zurich thanks to this momentum.
Formed in 2017, an organization known as the Crypto Valley Association is involved in much of the growth being seen in Switzerland. They’re involved in education and consultation as well as in organizing blockchain-centric events like conferences and hackathons.
Overall, Switzerland’s government is known to have one of the best established regulatory landscapes for blockchain businesses to thrive. Privacy, transparency, and decentralization are characteristics of Swiss law that fit in nicely with the philosophy behind blockchain. Over 150 blockchain companies exist in Switzerland today.
Considered the first country to implement blockchain on a national scale, Estonia is a prime example of how the tech can be used. Estonia is also trying to be the first-ever digital nation. Several initiatives promote the digitization of government services.
While Estonia is no doubt a leader in digitization, there is some question over their use of blockchain technology. Specifically, it seems that they are using a preliminary version of blockchain technology that some don’t see as the real thing. Indeed, they do use an immutable “hash-linked time-stamping” system for citizens’ records, but its implementation in 2008 predates that of modern blockchain technology.
Still, Estonia is the first to use anything like blockchain, and they are undoubtedly accepting of the concept. X-road is the name given to the blockchain-esque backbone of the digital Estonian database. It reduces the amount of paperwork and working hours of Estonians by hundreds of hours. Although X-road isn’t technically a blockchain, it is conceptually similar and a good example of what blockchain-based governance could look like.
… and many more
In reality, there are dozens of countries now taking part in the business of blockchain. Japan, Canada, Australia, and South Africa are other notable players in the blockchain arena. But the above-mentioned countries have taken some of the first major steps in mass adoption. There are several major problems that blockchain can solve, so it’s good to see that it is being taken seriously at a national level.
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