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UK government looks to blockchain technology to drive digitalization

Blockchain and smart contracts are among the key technologies that the UK government will focus on going forward as part of its digitization efforts.

Earlier this month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport released its "UK Digital Strategy for 2017", which outlines the framework aimed at supporting the efforts directed towards digitalizing the country’s private sector. It highlights the Digital Catapult Sector – a space for technologists, creatives from business and academia to collaborate and develop their new ideas and showcase their products to the world.

The centre’s new strategy includes “new ways to work with personal data with more control and trust, applications of blockchain and smart contracts, cybersecurity particularly for emergent threats”.

In addition, other key technologies to focus on include Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented, virtual and mixed reality, among others.

It said that these technologies will initially apply UK manufacturing, digital health and care, and creative industries through large scale programmes.

"Government has worked closely with the tech community to put this Strategy together, and I am establishing a new forum to ensure our relationship continues to flourish. I hope it will mark the beginning of a new phase of close engagement between Government and the tech sectors, and am looking forward to working side-by-side to make our digital economy both stronger and fairer”, Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for digital affairs, said in a statement.

The publication also said that the UK is “the global capital for financial technology, or ‘FinTech’, which generated £6.6 billion in revenue and raised over £500 million of investment in 2015 alone.” It also noted the Bank of England’s efforts to support the fintech sector including “being open to providing access to central bank money for new forms of wholesale securities settlement, such as those based on Distributed Ledger Technology”.

It further revealed plans to establish a new “Digital Government Partnership”, in collaboration with business, academia and the social sector to accelerate digital innovation in government. The initiative will invite outside experts into government as Technology Fellows to help policy-makers think about how government should respond to the rapidly evolving digital landscape, generate analysis and ideas to inform current policy, and experiment with emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers and machine learning.

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