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U.K. Government Awards Framework Agreement to Blockchain-As-A-Service Company Credits

The U.K. Government has awarded the first G-Cloud 8 framework agreement for the supply of distributed ledger technology to technology startup Credits.

Credit, which won the Best Blockchain Startup at the 2016 Europas Awards, is a blockchain platform provider supplying distributed ledger technology software and cloud-based services, with tools for building secure and scalable blockchains to power enterprise and public sector applications. In particular, Credits is the first blockchain platform provider with an offering exclusively for the U.K. public sector.

G-Cloud 8 is the current iteration of G-Cloud, an initiative of the U.K. government targeted at easing procurement by public-sector bodies of information technology services that use cloud computing.

The program, managed by the Crown Commercial Service, contains two key elements: It includes framework agreements with suppliers, from which public sector organizations can buy services without needing to run a full tender or competition procurement process; and it operates an online "Digital Marketplace" where public sector bodies can search for services that are covered by the G-Cloud framework agreements.

The G-Cloud framework agreement will allow organizations across the U.K. public sector, including central and local governments, the devolved administrations, health, education, emergency services, defense, and not-for-profits such as housing associations and charities, to use the Credits Blockchain platform-as-a-service (PaaS) without having to go through the time-consuming formalities of the standard public procurement process. Therefore, public bodies in the U.K. are more motivated to use the Credits Blockchain PaaS, which is now officially endorsed by the U.K. government.

“G-Cloud and the Digital Marketplace allow for a much more streamlined procurement process and represents a significant advance in the ability for smaller technology providers to sell into government, and, conversely, for government agencies to have greater access to technology to deliver better service to constituents in a more cost-effective manner,” Nick Williamson, co-founder and CEO of Credits, told Bitcoin Magazine, adding that approximately 80 percent of the companies selling on the Digital Marketplace are SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

G-Cloud is not only intended to stimulate (or in blunter terms, subsidize) emerging technology sectors and companies, but the products and services offered under the pro[gram’s framework agreements are meant to be actually used by public bodies in the U.K. In fact, Credits is already working with potential users.

The Credits framework and tools enable enterprises, government and the public sector to build robust blockchains that address the challenges in establishing provenance, authentication and reconciliation. According to the company, the Credits framework is designed to be seamlessly and securely interoperable with legacy and other blockchain systems.

“We're in early talks with various government agencies on several initial use cases,” said Williamson. “We're engaging both directly with the agencies themselves but also through solutions partners who have experience building traditional technology for the public sector. These use cases range from using blockchain technology to more robustly manage data access and integrity to managing and authenticating identity to more robust regulatory reporting.”

In 2015, Bitcoin Magazine reported that the Isle of Man, where Credits is based, wants to become a leading Bitcoin hub, and interviewed Brian Donegan, head of operations for Digital Development and eBusiness at the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development. Donegan confirmed that the island is gearing up to become the ideal environment for digital financial technology businesses, entrepreneurs and developers.

“The Isle of Man is a world-leading FinTech and blockchain hub, and we are pleased to add Credits to a list of successful digital businesses that have established operations on the Island,” said Donegan about the G-Cloud framework agreement.

“The Isle of Man is a fantastic home for our headquarters, and the IoM Government is one of our best supporters,” Williamson told Bitcoin Magazine. “The work we have done with them laid the groundwork for our continued foray into utilizing blockchain technology to enable the public sector, and they are an instrumental part of our success.”

In January, Bitcoin Magazine covered a new report produced by the U.K. Government Office for Science and edited by Sir Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser. The report looked at the future of distributed ledger technology and advocated the deployment of blockchain solutions for a variety of public services. This and other recent initiatives of the U.K. government and central bank show that the country could be gearing up to replicate, on a larger scale, the initiative of the Isle of Man, and become a major blockchain hub.

“The U.K. is absolutely leading the way in blockchain in the public sector at this time,” said Williamson. “From the report published earlier this year by Sir Mark Walport to the projects being explored by entities by the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions], the U.K. government is being extremely proactive at a critical time in this fledgling industry.”

It makes sense to speculate about the impact Brexit could have on the U.K.’s ambitions to lead distributed ledger technology in the region, as well as on U.K. blockchain companies. As long as Credits’s main business is in the U.K., the company should be relatively safe from negative impacts.

“We don't anticipate our business being directly materially affected by the E.U. referendum,” said Williamson. “As a software provider (as opposed to a financial services company), we are not reliant on things such as the ability to passport licenses in order to operate. However, raising money may be marginally harder in the short run due to heightened uncertainty.”

Giulio Prisco

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