Blockchain: Unpacking the disruptive potential of blockchain technology for human development.

IDRC white paper: “In the scramble to harness new technologies to propel innovation around the world, artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and blockchain technologies are being explored and deployed in a wide variety of contexts globally.

Although blockchain is one of the most hyped of these new technologies, it is also perhaps the least understood. Blockchain is the distributed ledger — a database that is shared across multiple sites or institutions to furnish a secure and transparent record of events occurring during the provision of a service or contract — that supports cryptocurrencies (digital assets designed to work as mediums of exchange).

Blockchain is now underpinning applications such as land registries and identity services, but as its popularity grows, its relevance in addressing socio-economic gaps and supporting development targets like the globally-recognized UN Sustainable Development Goals is critical to unpack. Moreover, for countries in the global South that want to be more than just end users or consumers, the complex infrastructure requirements and operating costs of blockchain could prove challenging. For the purposes of real development, we need to not only understand how blockchain is workable, but also who is able to harness it to foster social inclusion and promote democratic governance.

This white paper explores the potential of blockchain technology to support human development. It provides a non-technical overview, illustrates a range of applications, and offers a series of conclusions and recommendations for additional research and potential development programming….(More)”.