Digital Assets: UAE a Flag-bearer for Blockchain Technology Deployment

January 21, 2020 | Digital Assets, News

Other nations could emulate the UAE and potentially save billions through the deployment of blockchain.

A joint white paper has been issued by the World Economic Forum and the United Arab Emirates’ Centre For The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Titled “Inclusive Deployment of Blockchain: Case Studies and Learnings from the United Arab Emirates,” the paper provides global decision-makers insights into the UAE’s experience with blockchain implementation.

The white paper showcases the experience of the UAE and provides “an overview of the current local and national blockchain strategies, the diversity of national use cases and the resulting learnings from implementation.”

UAE and the blockchain

The UAE government’s Dubai Blockchain Strategy in 2016 and the Emirates Federal Blockchain Strategy in 2018 were early initiatives for the deployment of blockchain technology both at government and by industry. In 2018, the UAE government launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021. The strategy focuses on four main themes: the happiness of citizens and residents; elevating government efficiency; advanced legislation; and international leadership.

Moreover, the UAE government intends to process 50% of its transactions using the blockchain by 2021.

The major payoffs from blockchain

The UAE will potentially save AED 11 billion (US$3 billion) in transactions and documents processed routinely. It will do away with the annual printing of 398 million documents, and save 77 million work hours a year.

Additional benefits include a reduction in operational costs, accelerated decisions, and digital security of transactions and documents.

Some case study examples in the UAE

Emirates Airlines is using the blockchain for its loyalty program since March 2019. Benefits include greater transparency, enhanced security reduced fraud, and improved customer experience.

Emirates NBD used the blockchain to tackle cheque fraud. It issues nearly one million cheques a month. After blockchain implementation, cheque fraud at the bank has declined by 99%.

Etisalat Digital and a consortium of eight banks (the UAE Trade Connect) is using the blockchain to curtail the practice of using the same invoice to avail financing from multiple banks. The size of the problem is an estimated 3.75 million fraudulent transactions in the UAE annually. It represents US$435 million in potential losses.

In the public sector, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) is using the blockchain to improve organ donation allocation and transplants. It also seeks to prevent illegal donor trading in the UAE. Since its initial launch in January 2019, thousands of registered donors have recorded their will on the Hayat blockchain-based application. Further, all hospitals permitted to conduct transplants have been participating in the national waiting list and allocation platform. The solution is expected to save MOHAP over $20 million in estimated dialysis costs per annum.

Learning from UAE case studies

“Cases in the UAE to date have shown that the main challenges to blockchain deployment remain tied to operational and regulatory questions, as opposed to technical factors,” says the white paper. However, the government was a great facilitator.

“The government playing an outsized role in embracing emerging technologies and emphasizing the value of innovation for advancing society, supporting both the private and public sectors in exploring, implementing and scaling new technologies.”

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