The government of Canada is launching a trial aimed at exploring how blockchain technology can be applied with a view to making the awarding of research grants and funds more transparent. Canada’s National Research Council will use a blockchain suite known as catena, and which is based on (ETH) ethereum, to publish information on research funds and grants in real time.

“These are early days yet, but the experiment is expected to provide constructive insight into the potential for blockchain technology and how it may be used for more open and transparent function of public programs,” Canada’s National Research Council wrote in an online posting.

Distributed ledger system

When a grant is created or amended by the NRC, all the information gets stored on the blockchain and then posted online for the benefit of Canadians. Because of the distributed ledger system, data on blockchains is practically impenetrable. The ethereum blockchain platform is also capable of running smart contracts thus making monetary transactions possible in a secure and transparent manner.

As the ethereum platform has its own proprietary programming language, developers are also able to build services and applications which make use of its blockchain. One such example is Catena which has been developed by Bitaccess, an Ottawa-based firm.

Tamper-proof and secure

Once a grant has been awarded by the NRC to an individual or firm, that information is shared with Bitaccess and then the data is stored on tamper-proof and secure blockchain and posted online. Members of the public can then access the information by region, recipient, date and monetary value. The grant information is also verifiable.

Canada is not the only country considering the use of blockchain in government operations. Earlier in the month reports indicated that NITI Aayog or National Institution for Transforming India, was exploring how blockchain technology could be used in various sectors such as agriculture, health and education.

Mid-last year various state governments in India such as Andhra Pradesh also indicated that they were looking into how blockchain technology could be applied in land registries with a view of keeping track of property owners. And four months ago the research group at India’s central bank announced that it intended to unveil a blockchain platform with the aim of building and supporting various banking-related services.