Businesses in UK Believe In Blockchain Story – A Research By ServiceteamIT and Doogheno
According to a new piece of research, 5 percent of businesses in the UK are looking to incorporate blockchain in their technology stack within the next 12 months, and 35 percent of companies are planning to look at incorporating blockchain within the next three years. The research project carried out by ServiceteamIT and Doogheno spoke to over 1,000 UK based companies and found that while none of the companies are currently actively using blockchain, 40 percent of business owners believe that there is a place for blockchain within their business.
As the UK faces an uncertain future because of Brexit, it is Brexit that also brings the biggest opportunity for blockchain. The British government is actively looking for technology led solutions to address some of the many challenges that leaving the EU will bring, especially the challenge of creating a frictionless customs border where the EU and UK meet, for example in Ireland. In order to create such frictionless borders, and to pursue the “New Customs Partnership” model proposed in the in UK Government’s Chequers Brexit plan, Britain needs to be able to track the final destination of imported goods and apply the appropriate EU or British tariff. Brexit is undoubtedly an incredibly complex project, with decades of intertwined legislation that need to be untangled and replaced by new agreements, but it is this complexity that creates the extraordinary opportunity. The customs system that the UK government wants to develop could and should potentially be created using blockchain. If the EU and the UK recognize this and accept that frictionless trade is essential for the operation of business both sides of the border, then the UK and the EU would become world-leading adopters of the blockchain.
In reality, though, time is not on the side of those wishing to develop a new customs system, and the adoption of a blockchain solution could take a decade. In the UK, the HMRC, responsible for customs, is rushing through changes ahead of Brexit so that if the UK leaves the EU single market, with or without a deal, the system will be able to cope with a potential five-fold increase in customs declarations. Blockchain technology does not currently figure in these changes, so will not be in place to remove the need for time-consuming inspection of cargo at borders, but it could quickly enable information from such checks to be shared more easily.
The UK already has a very active blockchain community, with over 250 start-ups working on practical applications and a quick look at Angel List shows 57 seeking to employ people. This community is being supported by the government, which puts the UK in a very strong position to become the global hub for Blockchain and next-generation Digital Crypto Economy by 2025. Innovate the UK, a non-departmental public office, has stated it is investing over $26 million into emerging technology projects. It has already awarded £248,000 to a blockchain start-up developing a cross-border financial transaction tool. This investment could mitigate the risk for enterprise organizations in adopting solutions from small unknown companies. Securing the backing of larger organizations such as the government is vital in this, and the importance and potential disruptive impact of these technologies have been recognized by many governmental entities in the UK, in particular, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain which was set up January 2018.
For Blockchain to thrive it also needs regulatory systems that enable it. Speaking of cryptocurrency, the Bank of England’s Mark Carney said: “The time has come to hold the crypto-asset ecosystem to the same standards as the rest of the financial system.” But the government’s position is more encouraging with City Minister John Glen taking a gentler line promising proportionate regulation, and a cross-body crypto task force has been set up with a balanced mandate of managing the risks and capitalizing on the benefits.
So while current adoption of blockchain in British business is limited to early trials it is clear that the UK is poised to be in the forefront of the changes and advantages that blockchain could bring. The forty percent of UK businesses who are considering blockchain over the next three years will be joined by many more who adopt blockchain based services as they become available.
Dan Smith has worked in leading-edge technology for over 30 years. His interests are in emerging technology and their impact on society. Dan was voted in MSP Mentors global 250 industry experts for 3 years in a row and has contributed to the BBC and the National Computing Centre. Dan is Commercial Director of Doogheno as a specialist marketing agency for the technology sector.