Could blockchain power the next smart city?

Blockchain is being used to bring a smart city on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to life. How will its use benefit business? And what are the potential pitfalls?

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Singaporean blockchain firm PLMP Fintech seems to think that blockchain can power the next smart city. Creatanium Blockchain Smart City on the outskirts of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is an agricultural and industrial cooperation project within the One Belt One Road initiative and it is going to be driven by PLMP Fintech’s blockchain technology. The vision is an ecosystem of B2B, B2C, and C2C e-transactions powered by Creatanium blockchain, drawing together a network of SMEs from all over Southeast Asia. PLMP Fintech is banking on the benefits of blockchain tech for smart cities.

Mark Beer OBE, commercial partner at Keystone Law says that much has been made of China’s blockchain dominance since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced strong support for blockchain technology in November 2019.

Since then, he explains, China’s Red Date Technology has developed a platform to house and unify blockchain projects, with a view to integrating 100 public networks within a year, and the world’s most valuable unicorn, Ant Group, part of the Alibaba Group and valued at USD200bn, has developed AntChain, one of the most active players in China’s blockchain circle.

Richard Baker, CEO of GeoSpock emphasises that the heart of a modern city is its digital infrastructure – in particular, the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors to track, monitor and manage everything from lifts and occupancy in high rise buildings to smart street lights, to traffic management and electric grid capacity.

“The ledger of a smart city will make operations across public sector agencies more open and shared,” he says. For example, it will be easier for transport authorities to share information with the revenue teams for vehicle licencing, insurance checks and taxis licencing. “Connectivity and collaboration between public sector agencies and commercial companies will become easier and more efficient, and standards of living will improve,” Baker adds.

However, like any great idea, Beer notes, the proof is in the pudding. “And in Cambodia, that is in the form of the Creatanium Blockchain Smart City. This isn’t something new, with Zhuhai, one of the seven economic zones on southeast China, developing end-to-end blockchain powered solutions to manage real estate transactions, and many Chinese cities establishing ‘Blockchain Industrial Parks’, many of which are sitting empty. However, Creatanium wants to establish and operate a city entirely off a single Blockchain platform,” Beer explains.

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