The UK government is exploring using the blockchain technology that underpins the bitcoin currency to increase efficiency in the distribution of taypayers’ money such as grants, a minister said on Tuesday.
A blockchain works as a decentralised ledger that is verified and shared by a network of computers, and can be used to record data as well as to secure and validate an exchange of assets, such as currencies or commodities.
Banks and other financial institutions are increasingly investing in blockchain technology, reckoning it could cut their costs and make their operations faster and more transparent.
The cabinet office minister Matt Hancock said the government was examining how the technology could be used to manage and keep track of the distribution of public money, such as grants and student loans, saying it could “foster a new culture of trust”.
“The government cannot bury its head in the sand and ignore new technologies as they emerge,” Hancock, who holds the post of paymaster general, said a blockchain networking event in London.
“That is partly what happened in the past in government with the web … We cannot let (that) happen again by standing still.”
Britain has had a patchy record with government