The municipality of Riyadh (capital and most populous city in Saudi Arabia) has decided to partner the US electronics giant IBM to jointly develop and implement blockchain technology for government services and transactions.
IBM, who has been known for its blockchain-savvy outlook will work in tandem with Elm Company, the technology partner of Riyadh’s municipality. The end goal of the partnership is quite ambitious – to relocate governmental transactions and services to citizens on a blockchain, according to local news outlets.
Even though the exact scope of the operation is yet to be fully determined, numerous workshops to determine what services can be reformed via blockchain are already scheduled. IBM is tasked with developing the initial distributed ledger solution. If it proves to be successful, the technology will then be further integrated across other citizen services.
IBM Saudi Arabia General Manager Tarek Zarg El Aioun commented on the exciting news, saying that, “Through the collaboration between Riyadh Municipality, Elm and IBM, we will be able to help the Saudi government reimagine and transform the way in which services are provided to citizens, residents, businesses, and visitors. It is a strategic step towards supporting the objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.“
He then also went on to add that, “IBM believes that blockchain technology has the ability to change the world in the same way [as] the Internet while redefining how business and transactions happen.”
The Vision 2030 plan is an effort by the country’s government to diversify its economy, which is firmly based on oil right now, as it comprises an estimated 30-40 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP. Introduced back in 2016, in addition to economic shift, the agenda also promotes the development of infrastructure, health care, education, tourism and a number of other areas.
Since blockchain has been widely dubbed as the ‘4th industrial revolution’, it is understandably within the plans of Vision 2030 and some promising developments have already been made. In February, the Saudi Arabian central bank struck a partnership with Ripple to use their xCurrent technology in processing cross-border payments.
In May, the government teamed up with Ethereum decentralized application (Dapp) development studio ConsenSys to organize a “blockchain bootcamp” in Riyadh, which focused on creating smart contracts and Dapps. Back then, authorities reaffirmed that the event is part of a plan to create a digital environment, as is intended in the Vision 2030 objectives.
It seems that blockchain is definitely a major part of the future in the minds of Saudi Arabian officials, which is another stride towards mass adoption that the crypto sphere is yearning for.
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