The last month since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States has been tumultuous, to say the least. As a bright spot among the tragic events, we have seen several very positive stories in which big companies are making their best efforts, and crypto startups are offering ideas and suggestions on how to fight the spread of the pandemic. using decentralization and blockchain. Most of the new initiatives focus on data integrity, prediction and reporting, and while such efforts are highly admirable and necessary, we also need to be aware and distinguish how many of these proposals are actually workable, realistic and not just marketing headlines to generate clicks.
In data science, we are still struggling to ensure that our input data is of high quality, and in the case of COVID-19, the aforementioned systems got off to a bad start because all of the publicly available data came from China. . Although China is quite advanced in planning and effectively implementing its own digitization strategy and digital currency electronic payment (DC / EP) initiative, it appeared that the nation had a different agenda than that to reveal the true size and extent of the pandemic. For example, the patient and disease data they presented to Western countries was made up of underreported or simply untrue figures, and several country leaders have already expressed disappointment with this. Indeed, the “garbage in, garbage out” scenario is the main problem with the application of blockchain technology in such cases.
So what can we really do to help alleviate a global pandemic crisis and the next recession?
There are no two ways to get around it: 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in the use of technology and the improvement of our technical capacities and our creativity. Almost all businesses and individuals are faced with the possibility of change and adaptation or being left behind because nothing will be the same after the global economic recovery, hopefully in a few months. We are witnessing an increase in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning concepts alongside blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to create better and more efficient applications and services.
As mentioned earlier, blockchain is not the answer when we are dealing with weak and inaccurate data because there is no point in making it immutable, but technology has many advantages in payments, loan origination, digital identities, tracking and tracking solutions and supply chains, as noted in the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) report on the impact of COVID-19.
Focusing on payments and payment-related services will prove to be the winning recipe for success in the face of the impending recession. As we saw earlier this month, even the notion of the digital dollar has gained ground (and has since been removed) in new Senate and Congress bills. The digitization of the US dollar is not a new initiative, but it has recently gained momentum as a faster and more efficient way to distribute money on a large scale and to ensure that the self-employed and cashless workers working from home are paid on time. Note that this will not replace the cash notes but will complement the issuance and distribution of funds. The benefits for retail and wholesale CBDC transactions include security, flexibility and transparency, while international payment rails will benefit from a regulatory and compliant infrastructure. Other countries such as South Korea, Sweden with e-Krona and Japan are fairly advanced in the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Even the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has published a bulletin focusing on the future of money and payments, pointing out that the coronavirus could be transmitted in cash. While such claims are highly questionable, we can see from the table below that central banks are at both ends of the spectrum, either trying to trust cash bills, or urging other payment methods without touching.
Interestingly, here in the United States, we have seen the largest weekly increase in banknotes in circulation since December 1999, when people panicked about the Y2K bug:
Another use case for enterprise blockchain technology will be digital identity management as countries produce track-and-trace applications to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Similar apps have already worked successfully in South Korea and the U.S. takes a similar approach and tracks GPS data, credit card scans and location data from smartphones, and checks if your path crossed ‘an infected person. This, in parallel with the new generation of health care applications for monitoring pre-existing health conditions, will provide a more solid basis for coping with a similar pandemic, if such a possibility occurs in the future.
Overall, we are facing completely new conditions to deal with due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has taken the world by surprise. In these new environments, we need to implement solutions quickly and on a large scale. Problems we never thought of before, such as how to safely distribute money and financial assistance to people, are now knocking on our doors and need immediate attention. In such an environment, blockchain is not the only solution that we operate, but it is used alongside AI / ML in order to provide sufficient visibility and predictability for the dissemination and prevention of COVID- 19.
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