Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city and financial hub, has announced plans to use blockchain technology for its municipal services, partnering with IBM and Elm Company.

The municipality is seeking to improve the level of digital services they offer their citizens by utilizing blockchain for the municipality’s transactions and government services, as reported by ITP.net.

The proposal will have the Riyadh municipality teaming up with IBM, their strategic partner, and Elm Company, their technology partner, to find out specifically which government services can be improved through blockchain technology. They’ll do this by collaborating with government departments and others from the private and semi-government sectors to host workshops to figure out each department’s needs and determine ways to implement solutions using blockchain.

This is not the country’s first big foray into blockchain. Showing leadership in this area, the country’s central bank, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), announced in February that it would partner with Ripple to launch a pilot project to hook up the country’s participating regional banks to offer instant cross-border payments.

This technological innovation is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a blueprint for the country devised by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The plan is primarily focused on diversifying the economy, reducing the country’s dependence on oil revenue, and growing their investment capabilities.

Two complementary aspects of the Vision are expansion of digital services and transparency, both of which will be helped through this implementation of blockchain technology in their bureaucracy:

We will expand the variety of digital services to reduce delays and cut tedious bureaucracy. We will immediately adopt wide-ranging transparency and accountability reforms and, through the body set up to measure the performance of government agencies, hold them accountable for any shortcomings. We will be transparent and open about our failures as well as our successes, and will welcome ideas on how to improve. Excerpt from Saudi Arabia Vision 2030

Will the proposed technology live up to that challenge? IBM’s Country General Manager of Saudi Arabia seems to think so.

“Blockchain is a revolutionary way to do business – and IBM is in the forefront of it,” said Tarek Zarg El Aioun. “We believe that this technology has the ability to change the world in the same way that the Internet [redefined] how business and transactions happen.”

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