The United Kingdom’s government is exploring using bitcoin, or some permutation of the blockchain technology that underpins it, to pay out and monitor taxpayer-funded research grants.
Matthew Hancock, the minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, said today the cabinet had begun exploring ways to use blockchains in the government, with a particular interest in how it could be used in the disbursal of government research grants.
“Monitoring and controlling the use of grants is incredibly complex. A blockchain, accessible to all the parties involved, might be a better way of solving that problem,” Hancock said in a speech at Digital Catapult, a government-funded think tank. Hancock cited bitcoin as a successful example of “distributed ledgers,” another phrase for blockchains, being used to track currency.
Politicians are often wary of linking blockchain initiatives–usually promoted because of their potential to cut costs and increase transparency–to bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that fuels the dark web’s black markets. George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, has preferred the term “digital currency” when he publicly discussed bitcoin and its ilk in the past.
But the Cabinet Office showed little reluctance to discuss bitcoin. A spokesperson said the use of bitcoin to disburse funds was “a possibility”