Riyadh City Picks IBM to Integrate Blockchain in Government Services

The municipality of Saudi Arabia’s capital city Riyadh has partnered IBM to facilitate government services and transactions on a blockchain.

Under terms of the partnership, early blockchain-tech mover IBM will work with Elm Company, the municipality’s technology partner, to develop an implementation strategy to plug government transactions and commercial services to citizens and residents on a blockchain, ITP.net reports.

The city administration, IBM and Elm will further sync with key government departments and private and semi-government sectors over a number of workshops to determine the services that can be transformed by blockchain.

Initially, IBM will design the first blockchain-based solution within the municipality before Elm integrates the tech through the government’s citizen services in phase two, the report added.

IBM Saudi Arabia general manager Tarek Zarg El Aioun stated:

Through the collaboration between Riyadh Municipality, Elm and IBM, we will be able to help the Saudi government reimagine and transform the way in which services are provided to citizens, residents, businesses, and visitors.

The decision to integrate government services and transactions onto a blockchain is part of the broader Saudi Vision 2030 program, an initiative enacted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2016. The “long-term” plan sees the country’s rulers making a “serious attempt” to transition the economy away from its overwhelming dependency on oil and the state through substantial investments in the private sector.

The new blockchain endeavor is in accordance with Vision 2030’s directives, Al Riyadh secretary Tariq bin Abdul said, underlining decentralized blockchain tech as the chosen solution to improve municipal operations and services to citizens.

In February 2018, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) – the central bank for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – became the first central bank in the world to join FinTech giant Ripple’s enterprise blockchain network RippleNet. SAMA will conduct a large-scale blockchain pilot that plugs a number of regional participating banks on a ledger to power end-to-end tracking of instant settlements, fundamentally enabling real-time retail money transfers, in the country.

More recently, the government of Saudi Arabia’s IT and communications ministry partnered Ethereum development studio ConsenSys to host a ‘blockchain bootcamp’ in Riyadh.

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