Blockchain technology adoption in Central and South Asia is witnessing significant progress in various sectors, ranging from government services and healthcare to transportation and education.
As these regions continue to explore the transformative potential of blockchain, innovative solutions have emerged, promising increased transparency, efficiency, and security across diverse industries.
However, despite the promising use cases and potential benefits, the adoption rate has yet to reach its full potential, and addressing challenges such as scalability, regulation, consent, awareness, and governance becomes crucial for successful implementation.
The advent of blockchain has brought about a paradigm shift in the way governments operate across Central and South Asia. Through its immutable and decentralized nature, blockchain has unleashed remarkable potential, redefining public services, accountability, and fostering innovation.
Take Bangladesh, for instance. The government has embarked on a pioneering journey, leveraging blockchain to create a national identity card system.
By storing and verifying citizen identities on the blockchain, the nation aims to significantly reduce instances of fraud and corruption, laying the foundation for a more trustworthy and secure governance.
Similarly, India has embraced the possibilities of blockchain for identity verification. In 2020, the government initiated a pilot project to verify the identities of migrant workers using blockchain.
This innovative approach has the potential to streamline administrative processes and enhance inclusivity, ensuring that all citizens can participate actively in the nation’s growth.
Across the picturesque landscape of Uzbekistan, the government is setting new milestones in digitalization. With blockchain as the cornerstone, they are constructing a cutting-edge digital land registry system.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is also making strides in blockchain integration. In 2021, the government partnered with DAI to launch a pilot project to explore the application of blockchain in the land registry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In recent years, the healthcare sector in Central and South Asia has been witnessing a transformational shift through the adoption of blockchain.
Blockchain’s decentralized and secure nature has paved the way for innovative solutions in healthcare, addressing critical challenges and revolutionizing various aspects of the industry.
Transparent medicine supply chain
Blockchain enables tracking medicine movement from manufacturer to patient, ensuring patients receive safe and authentic medicines while mitigating counterfeiting and diversion risks.
India’s government e-marketplace (GeM) is taking a significant stride towards integrating blockchain for efficiently distributing vaccines and medicines. With a pilot project in the pipeline, GeM’s goal is to leverage the potential of blockchain technology to revolutionize the supply chain management of essential healthcare products in the country.
Mitigation of counterfeit drugs
Blockchain presents a promising solution to addressing the critical issue of counterfeit drugs within the healthcare sector.
In light of this, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health took a significant step in September 2019 by partnering with blockchain firm Fantom to integrate this innovative technology into the country’s healthcare system.
Through this strategic collaboration, blockchain will be harnessed to track and combat the circulation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, ensuring greater safety and authenticity in medication distribution.
Blockchain has found promising applications in the transportation sector of Central and South Asia. With the ability to enhance efficiency, transparency, and security, blockchain is paving the way for transformative changes in these regions.
Improving cross-border trade logistics in Central Asia
Central Asian countries have long struggled with limited connectivity and cumbersome import and export processes.
Blockchain offers a solution to streamline cross-border trade logistics by simplifying the documentation process, reducing border delays, and harmonizing standards across nations.
An exemplary initiative is the World Bank’s support for the CAREC Corridors Performance Measurement and Monitoring (CPMM) project. Utilizing blockchain, this project seeks to collect and share data on trade facilitation indicators along six transport corridors in Central Asia.
The data-driven approach aids in identifying bottlenecks and fostering policy coordination among participating countries, fostering economic growth and regional integration.
Enhancing food security and traceability in South Asia
South Asia, home to a vast population, faces food security and malnutrition challenges. Blockchain plays a significant role in ensuring the quality and safety of food products through the production and logistics chain.
By implementing blockchain-based tracking systems, authorities can respond swiftly and efficiently to contamination or fraud cases, safeguarding public health.
Blockchain has emerged as a transformative force in the educational sector, paving the way for more efficient, secure, and reliable processes.
The Government of Bangladesh demonstrated its commitment to leveraging blockchain’s potential with the comprehensive National Blockchain Strategy. One of its key objectives is to implement blockchain to preserve government certificates and educational credentials.
Through this innovative approach, the government aims to enhance transparency, mitigate fraud, and streamline the certificate verification process.
In Pakistan, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has spearheaded a pioneering initiative to revolutionize the issuance of degrees and certificates using a blockchain-based platform.
This progressive approach involves the seamless management, attestation, and verification of academic qualifications offered by higher education institutions.
Room for improvement
Despite the promising use cases and potential benefits of blockchain in government services, healthcare, transportation, and education sectors in Central and South Asia, the adoption rate has not reached its full potential. There are several reasons contributing to this slow progress.
The complexity of implementing blockchain solutions in these sectors demands significant resources, technical expertise, and organizational restructuring. Governments and institutions must invest in building the necessary infrastructure, training personnel, and ensuring interoperability with existing systems.
Additionally, concerns regarding data privacy, security, and regulatory compliance have prompted cautiousness among stakeholders.
Secondly, many regions have limited awareness and understanding of blockchain’s capabilities and benefits.
Government officials, healthcare professionals, transportation authorities, and educational institutions may need to fully grasp how blockchain can address their specific challenges and improve processes. This lack of awareness often results in skepticism and reluctance to explore blockchain adoption.
Moreover, the fragmented nature of the Central and South Asian region poses challenges for harmonizing regulations and governance frameworks for blockchain implementation.
Each country has its own legal and regulatory landscape, making cross-border collaborations and data sharing complex. This lack of standardization hinders the seamless integration of blockchain solutions across the region.
BSV blockchain team looks to foster blockchain adoption
To this end, the team behind the BSV blockchain is working to foster the adoption of BSV and blockchain in general in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and South Asia.
Speaking at last year’s BSV Global Blockchain Convention in Dubai, Muhammad Salman Anjum the founder of InvoiceMate, emphasized that the BSV blockchain team is working towards two objectives in MENA and South Asia: ecosystem partnerships and adoption.
“What we are trying to achieve, two things: ecosystem partnerships with academia to do more research on blockchain. Association partnerships – partnerships with the government, partnerships with the regulators to bring more regulation […] and partnerships with the developer community. And then we want adoption from the government sector, from the private sector as well,” Anjum disclosed.
Anjum revealed that the BSV blockchain team had formed strategic partnerships with the government of the UAE to meet these goals. The team had partnered with private and public institutions in this regard, including the UAE’s Department of Community Development, the Dubai Police, and Dubai’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
Moreover, the team behind BSV blockchain has also formed partnerships with entities in Pakistan for initiatives to bolster blockchain adoption in the country. Some of these entities include JS Bank, SECP, EJAD Labs, Zindigi, Gamestorm Studios and the KPITB.
Ahmed Yousif, BSV’s Middle East Lead for Government Initiative, also highlighted these escalating initiatives and partnerships.
“The governments actually have a huge interest in the use cases of the blockchain that could solve problems. Taking these collaborations into government doors and government offices and sharing the knowledge of blockchain with government officials was a task,” Yousif stressed.
He revealed discussions with the government of Riyadh regarding potential use cases of blockchain in the city’s smart city strategy.
Furthermore, a panel of industry leaders equally spotlighted the progress, challenges, and potential of blockchain in revolutionizing several sectors in the Middle East and South Asia.
“Looking at the landscape and seeing how it’s changed in the past 11 years: we were looking at old school ways of doing paper-based financial transactions, and now it’s been expedited to fully digital,” Panel member Ali Shobokoshi, CEO and Co-founder of Salis, said.
Shobokoshi stressed that the region has seen more use cases of BSV and blockchain in general regarding remittances and trade finance. However, despite the progress, Shobokoshi believes there is room to grow.
Watch: Middle East governments trying to find good use cases for blockchain
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