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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Dec 2, 2022

It’s time to talk about blockchain

With the evolution of web technologies, new concepts arise that provide innovative ways of using the internet. The emerging Web 3.0 is giving us concepts such as blockchain technologies, token-based economics, and decentralization.

As with everything new, those who are presented with it are either willing to explore or hesitant to even look into it. But with blockchain, instead of being scared, we should start understanding the technology.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defines blockchain as “a type of distributed ledger which is comprised of digitally recorded data, which may be continuously growing chain of blocks, and where each block is cryptographically linked and hardened against tampering and revision.”

Just recently, a group of US banking institutions, including HSBC, Mastercard, and Wells Fargo, announced that they are working with the New York Innovation Center (NYIC), which is part of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, on a proof-of-concept digital money platform called the Regulated Liability Network (RLN), which will use blockchain to create opportunities to improve financial settlements. The group said the project, which will run for 12 weeks, will be conducted in a test environment and will use simulated data. Aside from the US, China, and Australia are also working on a national digital currency.

While blockchain started as a system that facilitated digital payments through cryptocurrency systems, it now has many uses outside of the finance sector, such as in telecommunications, public sector, healthcare, and energy, as well as in identity management, security management, and data provenance.

Filipinos can surely adapt to this technology. In fact, in a survey by Australian-based financial technology website Finder, the Philippines ranked 10th among 26 countries in the Cryptocurrency Adoption Index. It said that 16 percent of Filipinos owned cryptocurrency. The global adoption rate average is 15 percent.

Last October, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in partnership with the Provincial Government of Bataan, conducted the country’s first Global Blockchain Summit. Discussions were focused on the state of blockchain industry, and blockchain regulations and compliance in the Philippines, as well as the adoption of blockchain technology, revolutionizing art through non-fungible tokens (NFT) and Play-to-Earn (P2E) gaming, and future plans to strengthen the blockchain industry in the country.

In fact, DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.  also acknowledged the opportunities in this new digital economy and has directed the DICT, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to formulate education and training programs that will develop skilled and globally competitive IT professionals, particularly in the field of blockchain technology, cybersecurity, and other ICT industries available in the labor market.

Just this week, international and local experts from the digital and cryptocurrency industries have come together to host the first Philippine Blockchain Week. The event aims to promote inclusiveness by educating more Filipinos about blockchain.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), blockchain technology can be used in many applications that could contribute to sustainable development. It offers a window of opportunity for some developing countries to be ahead. But it also advises governments of developing countries to strengthen their innovation systems to fully harness the benefits of new and emerging technologies.

I think it is time to sit down and talk about blockchain. We need to explore how this can help in our digitalization efforts, such as in promoting ease of doing business, strengthening cybersecurity, and even in providing internet connectivity, as well as in many areas of development. There could be hesitancy because of the lack of understanding about this technology, but this can be addressed by an information and education campaign to encourage more people, agencies, and organizations to look into its benefits and viability.

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