In the digital economy, blockchain technology is frequently touted as one of the next great innovations. The World Economic Forum, for instance, reckons that it will be one of six megatrends for the future. It first became well known for the foundation it provided for the virtual currency Bitcoin – but start-ups and company research projects also use blockchain technology successfully.
A wide spectrum of applications
The German government has now adopted a strategy for the positive use of the technology. It lays out ten guiding principles. Essentially, innovations are to be promoted and investment triggered. Stability, sustainability and fair competition are every bit as pivotal to blockchain technology as extensive IT and data security. Blockchain stands at the interface of the digitalisation of traditional manufacturing (known as industry 4.0), the internet of things, the energy sector and logistics.
Blockchain is a system of distributive ledgers containing information known as blocks, and a hash or unique code, that are saved simultaneously on all the computers in a blockchain network. Cryptography ensures that the information is easy to read but very difficult to manipulate.
Five fields of action
The opportunities offered by blockchain are many and varied. This is why the German government has decided to define important measures in five fields of action.
Blockchain in the financial sector is primarily to ensure stability and stimulate new ideas and trends. This leads us directly to the field of innovation, where it is a question of fostering projects and real laboratories. To facilitate investment, clear reliable frameworks are essential. Administrative services are to be optimised through the use of digital technology. The German government would also like the blockchain technology to make a contribution to disseminating information.
Where do we go from here?
The German government intends to stage a series of dialogues on blockchain technology. There is to be regular dialogue and discussion between politicians, the private sector, the scientific and research community and civil society on specific aspects of the field of technology.
And there is to be a pilot project that illustrates the origins and concentration of CO2 in an urban area. Blockchain technology is to be used to test a data platform and analyse business options. In the energy sector a huge volume of data is generated that is of particular interest for the research community, the private sector and civil society. It is to be ascertained whether data can be made available to third parties without contravening GDPR.
Participating in digital transformation
One priority laid out in the coalition agreement of the German government is actively shaping digital transformation in industry, the working world and civil society. The Blockchain Strategy will provide guidelines for the realisation of this policy. It was important to the German government that not only the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, but also the Federal Ministry of Finance, and citizens be involved. More than 150 associations, private companies, organisations and experts contributed to the online consultations on the Blockchain Strategy in March.