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Bitso and IOVLabs to fund blockchain overhaul of Gibraltar’s eGov platform

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Two major players in the Distributed Ledger Technology [DLT] sector will fund a project valued at over $1m to integrate blockchain technology into the Gibraltar Government’s eGov system in a bid to cut costs and red tape.

The pilot project will be delivered by the Government of Gibraltar working closely in partnership with two firms: Bitso, a Gibraltar-licensed crypto currency platform prominent in Latin America, and IOVlabs, the team behind the RSK blockchain and a leader in smart contract technology.

The costs of the project will be covered by both firms, which the government says have “long supported and deeply contributed” to Gibraltar’s work in the DLT sector.

IOVLabs’ contribution is valued “in excess of half a million dollars”, with Bitso donating a further $500,000 in Bitcoin to the government toward delivering the project, Albert Isola, the Minister for Digital and Financial Services, told the Chronicle.

“The cost to government of delivering this is nothing, and IOVLabs will be making the investment in the development of this pilot project which they hope then to be able to use to demonstrate internationally the power of the system with the blockchain and the effectiveness of what it can do.”

The initiative will showcase Gibraltar’s use of blockchain technology at time when the Rock is already regarded as a key location worldwide for the licensing and regulating of some of the most successful international companies in this sector.

In January 2018, Gibraltar became the very first jurisdiction globally to introduce legislation around DLT, the technology that underpins all blockchains.

“This is another step in the development of Gibraltar as a jurisdiction supporting innovation in blockchain technology,” Mr Isola said.

The project will initially be rolled out on a pilot basis and aims to improve the delivery of public services through the eGov platform to individuals and organisations in Gibraltar.

The proposed blockchain solution will build upon and enhance the functionality of the eGov system, with the focus of the initial phase being to enable users to store government-issued and certified credentials.

The goal is to use technology to streamline and simplify everyday transactions that involve contact with the government.

Mr Isola said the Gibraltar Government had built close working relationships with both Bitso and IOVLabs over many years.

“Gibraltar has successfully positioned itself as a forward-thinking jurisdiction for innovative businesses developing and offering blockchain-related solutions,” Mr Isola said.

“The implementation of blockchain technology into our processes in partnership with our stakeholders working here will further improve the way in which our community interacts with the government.”

“We have already begun the process of digitising many of our services through the introduction of the eGov system earlier this year.”

“I am confident that the RSK blockchain will serve as a solid foundation on which to build the intended programme of services in a coordinated and phased manner further complimenting the work already undertaken.”

Mr Isola acknowledged the “invaluable support and contribution” of Diego Gutiérrez Zaldívar, the chief executive of IOVLabs, and his team, who will provide technical and other support working alongside the government’s own digital Services team.

“This project would not have been possible without their total support for which we are most grateful.,” he said.

Mr Gutiérrez Zaldívar added: “We are thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with the Government of Gibraltar in deploying blockchain technology to create a new paradigm of government interaction with citizens and organisations that will reduce costs and red tape while increasing automation and trust.”

Mr Isola likewise highlighted the “fantastic contribution” by Bitso, which he said will enable the Government of Gibraltar to commence work on the project in 2022, with a 12-month timeline to delivery.

“At this moment in time, Government would not otherwise commit funding to this project,” Mr Isola said, adding that the government is focusing its own spending solely on “critical projects” due to financial constraints after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The support and commitment of Bitso to the development of Gibraltar as a centre for innovation is most appreciated and we are thrilled to continue to strengthen our relationship with them.”

Bitso is a leading Latin American cryptocurrency platform licensed in Gibraltar under the DLT Providers Regulatory Framework. Its donation will be paid in Bitcoin.

Bitso co-founder Daniel Vogel said: “At Bitso, we believe that the private and public sector can work together to create profoundly impactful crypto and blockchain based solutions.”

“We are proud to work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to increase the use of blockchain technology within vital industry sectors.”

“Gibraltar sets a phenomenal example of government entities embracing the crypto ecosystem to enhance greater growth of our society, and Bitso is incredibly proud to be part of its crypto community.”

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