The first blockchain platform-as-a-service agreement has been signed by the UK government, awarded to blockchain platform provider Credits by the Crown Commercial Service.
The distributed ledger technology (DLT) is now available to buy through Government Digital Services' Digital Marketplace, under the G-Cloud framework agreement, for government organisations that want to experiment with it.
Blockchains -- which underpin digital currencies such as Bitcoin -- are distributed ledgers that allow for a complete history of financial and non-financial transactions. They provide a secure permanent record that cannot be changed and doesn't need a central registry.
By enabling access to blockchain-as-a-service, national government organisations, as well as organisations under the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and local authorities are free build and deploy secure, enterprise-grade DLT services if they so wish.
"Credits is pleased to have been awarded a place on the G-Cloud 8 platform. We are excited by the huge potential of Distributed Ledger Technology for many different government and public sector applications, and are looking forward to working with UK public sector organisations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services for UK taxpayers," said Nick Williamson, CEO and founder of Credits.
While digital currencies such as Bitcoin have grown in part because they are to an extent beyond government control, the public sector has been looking with increasing interest at the underlying technologies.
Indeed, this year's Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond block chain report from the UK government's chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport highlighted how DLT could aid in several areas of governance including protecting critical infrastructure, registering assets including NHS data, and reducing benefit fraud.
"Distributed ledger technology has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and citizens in terms of data-sharing, transparency and trust," he wrote. The Department for Work and Pensions recently begun a trial using blockchain to track how benefit claimants are spending their money.
The new G-Cloud blockchain-as-a-service runs on a secure cloud infrastructure and the choice of Credits as the chosen partner follows the company's success in developing a blockchain for use by the government of the Isle of Man.