Blockchain-Based Government Services: Electronic Government as a Service (eGaaS) [ICO]
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A new blockchain platform known as ‘eGaaS’ is launching with the lofty goal of revolutionizing the way that governments provide services to their citizens. The name stands for ‘electronic Government as a Service’, which is exactly what they aim to provide. By creating a set of tools and a common blockchain-based platform they believe they can save governments money and “free citizens and businesses from routine bureaucratic procedures” at the same time.
An ‘ICO’ crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the development of the project begins on the 15th November 2016, with the first round lasting for one month and further rounds spread out over the next few years. Further details about the ICO can be found towards the end of the article, but first lets take a look at what these guys are actually trying to do.
Blockchain Government Use Cases
Despite the antipathy displayed by many governments and government institutions around the world for Bitcoin itself, blockchain technology has received a much warmer reception and is seen by many as the best solution to many administrative problems faced by governments around the world.
William Mougayar, author of the book ‘Business Blockchain’ and an advisor / board member at several major crypto projects including Ethereum and Open Bazaar, writes in the Observer that:
“Government services are one of the most obvious and immediate application areas for the blockchain.”
In his article Mougayar goes on to list a wide range of projects in which national governments are working directly implementing this technology into various different departments of public service. These include blockchain-based invoices in Singapore that are being used to prevent the recurrence of a $200 million fraud against the countries banks, a state archive and business equity issuance system in Delaware, USA, and a land registry in Ghana, among other things.
In the United Kingdom, where I live, the government recently added a blockchain firm called ‘Credits’ to their list of approved suppliers – allowing any branch of the public service to make use of their services.
Clearly there is a huge potential for governments to use this technology in many different areas, to reduce fraud, drive down costs, increase transparency, and to generally operate in a more effective manner. What’s more, this is something that governments themselves seem to have recognized and in many cases to be open to.
Smart Laws & Blockchain Government Services from eGaaS
“transferring the activities of governments and legislative bodies to the eGaaS platform could save nearly 10% of global GDP each year.”
The eGaaS platform aims to provide a one-stop shop for moving government services from legacy systems onto the blockchain. The driving philosophy behind this approach is that fragmentation – the use of different implementations in isolated areas or departments – substantially limits the potential of the technology.
Smart contracts, fraud-proof records, and cryptographically secured transactions can do many wonderful things. But they can only work with data that is already on the blockchain. This is already a problem for many smart contract implementations, leading to the use of ‘Oracles’ and other entities to mediate between the technology and the outside world. By bringing everything onto the same platform government’s can ensure that every object a smart contract may need to refer to already exists on that blockchain in a secure fashion.
The services offered as part of this platform fall into four main categories: financial system, registry structure, smart contract algorithm and smart law formation and execution mechanism. Together, these cover many different use cases including those listed in the previous section, electoral voting, a system for storing and controlling access to medical records, registration of births and marriages, and a great deal more besides.
In addition to public services, many of these features can also be put into use by business customers for things like payment systems, stock exchanges, insurance services, credit organisations, and accounting and management systems. Indeed, these business users are likely to be the first customers to adopt the platform.
One of the key technological innovations behind the platform and arguably its most interesting aspect is the introduction of a new concept called the ‘smart law’.
According to eGaaS:
“Smart laws regulate the creation and implementation of smart contracts and automatically regulate relations between individuals and organizations.”
As a result of this a country or community within the platform can introduce laws which automatically take effect by modifying smart contracts under their jurisdiction:
“Laws that have been transferred to blockchain become instruments of direct effect: any changes in legislative regulations, tariffs and rates are automatically taken into account by all the existing smart contracts.”
The eGaaS Platform Roadmap
An initial version of eGaaS was launched in October 2016, split into two releases. A stable release offers the basic functionality of storing and sending tokens, while a second unstable release is used to test new features before they are migrated to the main release.
In the ‘near future’ a system of embedded applications, composed of smart contracts, smart laws, pages tables and menus, will be introduced to the ‘unstable release’ that will allow for the easy deployment of a wide range of services onto the platform.
During the first quarter of 2017 these features, along with everything else in the unstable test released, will be merged into the main stable platform. By the third quarter, apps will be available for the creation of business organisations. From there, the ambitious roadmap envisions the first citizens being being registered for election purposes through eGaaS by 2018.
The ICO will see 65% of the supply of 100 million tokens going on sale to the public. This sale will be split across 6 ‘rounds’.
The first round of the ICO begins on 15th November 2016 and lasts for one month. A series of bonuses starting at 50% for the first day and decreasing to 5% in the third week has been included to encourage early participation. During this first round 5.9% of the total supply will be sold, with a goal of raising $500,000.
The following 5 rounds will be spread out over the next few years.
You can learn more and participate in the ICO sale by visiting the website here: http://egaas.org