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Singapore uses blockchain technology to ease travel amidst pandemic

BusinessToday.In     March 4, 2021

As blockchain revolutionises digital services, the technology is slowly gaining acceptance across sectors and countries. Singapore has become the latest entrant, using blockchain technology  to develop an inter-operable global standard for cross-border verification of COVID-19 test results that can help in easing travel amidst the pandemic.

The country's Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Ministry of Health have together developed the standard, called HealthCerts, using blockchain.

From March 10, travellers undergoing pre-departure COVID-19 tests in Singapore will get their results in digital form as per the HealthCerts standard. The certificate will have to be notarised and it can be verified by immigration officials at airports which is likely to reduce the time taken for such verifications.

The notarised pre-departure test results will be available on SingPass mobile app, which allows online account management for access to Singapore government's e-services. The Singapore government will also look to make vaccine certificates available on the blockchain technology based standard, Channel News Asia quoted Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of Smart Nation Initiative, as saying.

Also read: Joining the Blockchain

"The notarise system endorses locally issued certificates and the verify system enables checks on the authenticity of such certificates. We have open-sourced the HealthCerts standard and technology, and partnered private sector players to develop interoperable solutions," the SNDGO said in a statement.

As of February 24, nine companies had been authorised to work with clinics in the country to issue certificates as per the HealthCerts standard.

Back home in India, blockchain technology is slowly but surely getting traction. Blockchain is a shared ledger that provides high visibility. It stores information in blocks which are linked or chained to one another. This structure allows it to be used in financial institutions, telecom, retail companies, supply chain, logistics, and more.

As per NASSCOM Avasant India Blockchain Report 2019, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) sector was the leading adopter of technology. While private players were the first to get off the blocks in terms of the use of the technology in India, government enterprises and governments are also taking steps to use the technology.

As per Nasscom's report, about 50 per cent states in India are involved in various initiatives driving blockchain adoption.

Also read: RBI working on digital currency, wants to tap on blockchain technology: Das

The State Bank of India recently tied up with JP Morgan to use the latter's blockchain technology for speeding up overseas transactions. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had also recently released draft of national strategy on blockchain.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has said the central bank does not want to be left behind in the technological revolution, and the benefits of blockchain technology need to be capitalised. While the speed of adoption of the technology in country can be slower as compared to some of the other countries, everything suggests that it is here to stay.

Also read: 20% of routine legal work to be taken over by AI, blockchain

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