Which countries are encouraging blockchain growth?
The cryptocurrency market has exploded in recent years, with its most famous currency bitcoin hitting incredible highs in 2017. While this has introduced even more interest in such cryptocurrencies, there has also been a lot of attention paid to the blockchain, the technology that powers them.
Annual investments in blockchain technology are predicted to reach $400 million in 2019, with the technology now being used for more than just cryptocurrency payments. This has caught the attention of many governments, but while strict regulations inhibit innovation in some places, others are actively encouraging blockchain growth.
The Leading Nations
Some familiar faces can be seen now propelling blockchain, through allowing and encouraging business use. The USA is home to many start-ups that rely on the blockchain, unsurprisingly with a lot in Silicon Valley, from cryptocurrency businesses to ones innovating with fresh ways to effectively use the technology. The government remains skeptical, however, so encouragement varies from state to state.
The UAE is also up there, with it possible to buy some luxury apartments using bitcoin in the country. It also aims to have Dubai as the world’s first blockchain-powered government by 2020. This would mean that over 100 million documents, from visa applications to bill payments would be transacted digitally, saving many labor hours and around $1.5 billion per year.
Somewhat more surprisingly, yet definitely a leading light in the blockchain, is Estonia. Dubbed ‘the world’s first digital country’, the country’s online government initiative is using blockchain to power its online platform where citizens pay taxes, vote, sign documents and access medical services. Transparency and security are the main reasons, though it also to make things simple with the entire Estonian nation linked across one digital platform powered by blockchain.
Surprising Blockchain-Friendly Countries
There are quite a few smaller and developing nations seeing the potential benefits of blockchain and jumping onboard early. The Blockchain Embassy Panama is one such example of how the relatively small central American country is encouraging the general public, developers, and entrepreneurs to get involved in the blockchain ecosystem. Plus, a Venezuelan bitcoin ATM set up at two commercial banks in Panama City for the first time recently.
Cyprus is another country that is doing something different to enhance blockchain use and its reputation. While the country is home to many financial trading companies and there is a big interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies among individuals, it’s yet to be fully adopted by many institutions. However, the University of Nicosia is now offering education courses in blockchain technology (and even accepts payment in bitcoin), offering a world first and encouraging blockchain growth in a different direction.
In March 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa hosted the fourth annual Blockchain Africa Conference. Taking such a step to introduce blockchain technology into their economy demonstrates a growing interest and in some cases, it’s already in use. The second largest national grocery retailer, Pick n Pay, accepts payments in bitcoin, for example, through government policy and its stance remain unclear on the blockchain.
Regulation and government policy is the main barrier to wider adoption and acceptance of blockchain technology, yet there are plenty of countries encouraging use, innovation, and growth of it through a range of different measures.