On August 10th, Alin Iftemi, Modex Co-founder, was one of the speakers at an online event organized by Spherik Accelerator, start-up.ro and B-hub for Europe titled “Can blockchain make governance more transparent?” Here’s what Modex’s Co-founder had to say on this topic.
Any democracy and governance relies significantly on trust – in parties involved, processes, decisions. Can blockchain add the layer of transparency and accountability in governance, or there aren’t enough use cases to prove the technology might do the job? Should the public sector and corporations take an interest in blockchain to ensure stronger accountability towards management, citizens, consumers, and other stakeholders? These were some of the event’s main talking points, as well as “trust” as one of the key principles and benefits of blockchain technology.
Can blockchain be a transparency tool for the public and private sectors?
“I think that transparency is like a piece of the puzzle which makes the blockchain benefits complete. Let’s think about Bitcoin. It was the designer’s choice to make publicly available what is the actual address from where someone sends money. But we have to understand that in the same context the designer could have chosen not to show that particular info. So when designing or implementing blockchain technology, it depends a lot on how much transparent one would like it to be to the other parties involved. When you implement blockchain, you have to think about trust and transparency, which is considered to close the trust circle provided by this revolutionary technology.”
What are the friction points and challenges that stand in the face of transparency?
“Transparency can be the major benefit of your business, but at the same time it might be the thing which puts you in prison. If you do your job properly and you are honest, transparency works to your advantage. But if you’re not like this, you do not want to show things, you will want to avoid transparency at some point. So through transparency – as a company or government – you can gain customers and the citizens’ support, but if your things are not in order in your inner circle you won’t be interested in being transparent. So it’s up the whoever implements or adopts this technology.”
“Modex took blockchain technology from its purest form and adapted and improved it in such a way that it’s relevant for any enterprise. Thus, the traditional blockchain benefits are enriched with additional features. For instance, if we are talking about data immutability, Modex has come up with another feature: real-time data reconstruction. What does it mean? If someone deletes information from a database, our technology is able to reconstruct the information in its original form. This is already a benefit which can help one single entity. If we are looking at the conceptual model, blockchain is designed for parties.”
“From the legal point of view, compliance is always something we have to be careful about. But there are also lots of benefits – in our case, data immutability. By design, blockchain technology allows us to easily prove that some information was not modified during a particular timeframe. When it comes to security, before blockchain many companies were guaranteeing this immutability by providing a service. At some point in time, a judge would likely still favour a big company which has been doing some services for some time compared to a small company which has adopted blockchain technology and can prove in court that a certain information hasn’t been changed.”
Can blockchain technology be implemented by governments and in the public sector in the absence of previous digitalization services?
“If these entities only have papers, it can’t. If they have one database or even an Excel file, our flagship product – Modex BCDB (Blockchain Database) – can secure that information as well. I think that blockchain benefits can be applied in a minimum technology environment (where there are some servers, where there is some data available, etc).”
Can the blockchain revolution replace governments?
“I don’t think so. I don’t believe that any current or future administration will ever allow any technology to take their place. However, there are many daily tasks and activities which can be automated with the help of blockchain technology, Artificial Intelligence, software products and so on. Thus, a government’s activity could be optimized and made more efficient so instead of 2000 employees there are only 100 or even less. This can be done.”
Should technology be invisible to citizens?
“By default, blockchain technology is a back-end technology, so it’s not directly accessible by citizens. Anyone who is using a software product – mobile application, a website – should know that in the background the software accesses a database or other back-end technologies, so these processes are not visible to the user. The results of these activities can be exposed to people, as well. At the end of the day, individuals could use blockchain technology without really knowing that. They will only see the end result. So for them it’s important to understand how the technology works and to trust more someone who is actually using blockchain technology.”
“Before the blockchain era gained traction, people didn’t care too much about what was behind certain processes from their daily lives. They only cared about the usability and the actual software look of the product. With the arrival of blockchain, these things have changed a bit. At the end of the day, blockchain technology should protect their interests as well. If you have medical records, and those are protected by this technology, it’s important for you, as a citizen, to know that nobody will steal that info without your approval, not even the owner of the software product.”
How immune can a blockchain system be to human intervention and how can it avoid corruption (technical, but also the human one)?
“Like any technology, blockchain can solve a particular problem. So if we speak about data immutability, integrity, transparency and others – these problems are surely solved. But software security is not just about that. For example, you could end up in a really bad situation even if you use blockchain technology. It’s like when you learn to build stronger doors, but the thieves learn how to build stronger hammers or learn new ways to break in. You might have software systems which are compromised due to bad design, so in order to have a secure system, besides blockchain you should also implement other security-related systems and technologies.”