Georgia is at the interface between Europe and Asia and is a small country with a great mission to drive the adoption and formation of blockchain. In February 2017, the Georgian government took a bold move by signing an agreement to use the Bitcoin blockchain to record land titles. This made it the first national government to use blockchain to authenticate government operations.
Innovation in Georgia didn’t stop there, but continued to grow as the country became a powerhouse for mining crypto. In June 2019, the Georgian government signed a memorandum of understanding with blockchain technology company Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) to advance blockchain projects in all government sectors, with an emphasis on education.
Many of these innovations took place when Mamuka Bakhtadze served as the country’s prime minister between June 2018 and September 2019. Cointelegraph had the pleasure of sitting down with Bakhtadze to learn more about its goals of driving blockchain innovation and education.
Rachel Wolfson: As Georgia Prime Minister, how did you start translating blockchain and digital currencies into politics?
Mamuka Bakhtadze: It actually started before I became Prime Minister of Georgia. Georgia is the first country to adopt blockchain technology in public services. That happened a few years ago when we worked with the blockchain company Bitfury.
Our Justice Department implemented Bitfury’s blockchain to register and review real estate transactions. This was the first time that not just Georgia but every state introduced blockchain in the public sector.
RW: You recently spoke at this year’s virtual Davos event about advancing blockchain. What can the future hold?
MB: Georgia is a very good example of the unlimited possibilities that blockchain brings, especially in the public sector. We are currently running a very important project in the education sector together with IOHK and Charles Hoskinson, a very good friend of Georgia. Together with the Ministry of Justice and the Minister of Education, we are carrying out the project to verify the credentials. The team uses a blockchain supported by Cardano for this.
“Overall, we have the vision of making Georgia a regional center for economy, trade, tourism and finance, all of which are important for innovation. It is also important for the companies involved in innovation here to have access to a pool of talented people. “
If you want to make a transformation for your country, it is very important to have a national idea that consolidates the energy and effort required to do so. In our opinion, this was education. In 2019, we launched an educational reform that is mandatory for every government under our legislation Invest 6% of GDP in education, which is around 25% of our budget.
So education is really a big element for Georgia. We hope that with this reform we can position Georgia as a hub for innovation, and blockchain plays a big role in that. The project that we are now carrying out with the input output team is very important from this perspective.
RW: Are Cardano and IOHK also setting up an education center in Georgia where they teach students about blockchain and then offer career opportunities?
MB: This is part of the second phase of the plan. The first phase, as mentioned earlier, is to complete this credential verification project. The next phase will focus on the skill building process for Georgians who want to be part of this great initiative.
RW: Does the Georgian government also want to implement blockchain solutions to revitalize tourism and travel that may be affected by COVID-19?
MB: Tourism is a very important industry for Georgia. Our population is less than 4 million people and we received more than 9 million visitors last year. So tourism is a very important industry for both the country and our economy.
I think blockchain can offer some very interesting solutions to this problem. Many countries are now trying to get data to show whether people have been tested for COVID-19. They also want information on whether people have lived in what are known as “high risk zones”. At the same time, this is very sensitive data. Therefore, the security measures for using this data are very important.
Blockchain can offer some interesting solutions for countries like Georgia, which are so dependent on tourism. I know that there are some Asian countries that are working very hard on these solutions. Georgia should also determine what technologies we need to use in order to increase our visitors again. I think blockchain would be the right answer to this question.
RW: What do you think about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, and how is this being applied in Georgia?
MB: I am a strong advocate of digital currencies and I have a lot of strong arguments for being so supportive. It is a fact that we are living in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. Digital currencies are an inevitable part of this era. At the same time, the lessons from the earlier industrial revolutions are very interesting.
“Technologies introduced in the first industrial revolution struggled for decades to bridge the economic gap between them and industrial relations. However, the gaps we see between countries and economies have the same roots. So I understand that the fourth industrial revolution is the greatest opportunity of all. ”
For countries like Georgia, however, the use of digital currencies – an organic part of the fourth industrial revolution – should become part of change for both nations and their economies. in addition, What We are now learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows that the global economy needs digital currencies and cryptocurrencyThis makes transactions safer and more efficient. So I think this is an inevitable process.
Of course, there are many obstacles, and I really hope that governments and regulators will take a more open-minded approach to digital currencies. But the bottom line is that we should all understand that this step is inevitable. The Countries that are more supportive of digital currencies and cryptocurrencies will have a very significant competitive advantage In the 21st century. Georgia cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
RW: Would you say Georgia is crypto friendly? Are digital assets going to be launched in Georgia earlier than anywhere else in the world?
MB: I’m optimistic about this, and to complete the comparison with the first industrial revolution, I think another big part of that will be the blockchain adoption. Blockchain will have the same impact as the steam engine during the first industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution was powered by the steam engine and the fourth industrial revolution is powered by blockchain. This is really a game changer.
When it comes to regulation, politicians around the world and in Georgia should be more open-minded. The pandemic has shown us once again why. The global economy now needs digital currencies.
“The finance minister and my team worked out a brief concept of what kind of national digital currency Georgia could have. I hope that this project will be implemented one day in the future. “
There are also a number of other initiatives. Of course, I would like to see Georgia as a pioneer when it comes to blockchain and digital currencies.