International tech consultants Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) have authored a report stating blockchain is “integral to supporting and realizing a digital economy in the Middle East.”
Mid East Undergoing ‘Rapid Change’
The report, released today titled “Blockchain Technology – Can the Digital Economy Thrive Without It?” focuses on the benefits that blockchain technology can bring to transport, healthcare, finance and startups in the Middle East.
“Economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are undergoing a period of rapid change as governments diversify away from petroleum-based assets and explore newer sources of revenue with smart technology at the core,” Ramez Shehadi, executive vice-president and managing director of BAH MENA said about the findings in a company press release.
This Middle Eastern growth is being experienced in multiple sectors, with BAH noting Dubai’s GDP alone is forecast to increase by $5.5 billion by 2018 due to what it calls “digitization.”
Shehadi, who co-authored the report with senior vice-president Dr. Mahir Nayfeh, notes however that such great potential and its implementation need to be handled with care.
“…With opportunities come challenges,” he explained.
“As Smart Cities rise up to support national agendas, governments need to be prepared for threats ranging from hacktivism to cybercrime, and this is exactly where blockchain can help them achieve their digital economy goals while ensuring maximum network security.”
Nayfeh meanwhile was particularly upbeat about disruptive technology’s capacity to bring security and hence transparency to data sharing.
“Blockchain can help remove the security concerns often raised by organizations to justify their unwillingness to reveal information, while encouraging the adoption of data-sharing incentives and fostering a community-based ecosystem that can determine the value of data over time,” he said.
What Kind of Potential?
The mood of the report is an interesting contrast to last week’s findings by Citibank, which in its third research piece on Blockchain concluded that Bitcoin in particular was not an immediate threat to traditional finance models.
“In countries where there is no quality payments infrastructure, we do think there could be some opportunity for an open decentralized network like bitcoin,” the report offers.
Nonetheless it is likely the support for blockchain from BAH likewise goes hand in hand with strengthening of extant finance.
Citi sees the greatest potential for disruption coming from “a central-bank issued digital currency” such as that currently being discussed in Russia, but that the potential for real-use blockchain cases achieving en masse support lies in combination.
“The power behind an open network like bitcoin is the possibility of incorporating it with other technologies to bring about true innovation,” the bank states.
What do you think about the reports’ findings and the Blockchain’s potential in the Middle East? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of theintercept.com and arabianbusiness.com
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