The United Kingdom stands out (along with Dubai, the US, India, Australia and China) as a country aggressively piloting blockchain applications. However, perhaps more than other countries, the British government itself is more engaged in blockchain uses in public sector settings.
You can Bank on the British
Since 2015, the Bank of England (similar to the US Federal Reserve in mission) has been testing blockchain applications to lower costs in inter-bank transfers internal and external to the country. The UK Department for Work & Pensions has been piloting the use of blockchain to pay benefits to recipients who do not have bank accounts. The UK Royal Mint is testing blockchain to issue “Royal Mint Gold” a digital representation of real gold (think of a digital token that can be redeemed for gold).
English Gardens for Innovation
In 2016, UK’s Crown Commercial Service agency (akin to the US General Services Administration) awarded a “blockchain-as-a-service” contract to Credits (a start-up out of Isle of Wight) so that agencies and organizations within UK’s public sector can use blockchain for their own purposes and applications. The UK government has also funded a “Digital Catapult Centre” in London to incubate start-ups in newer technologies, including blockchain.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (similar to the US’ Securities & Exchange Commission) has included blockchain start-ups in its Regulatory Sandbox (kind of a ‘safe harbor’ that allows companies to test applications in a live environment).
In academe, the University of Surrey is ramping up its research efforts in “Digital Economy & Blockchain”.
British Blockchains Emerging
Activities like those above are helping to cultivate private enterprise in the UK. London itself is a hotbed of Financial Technology (“fintech”) start-ups and other industry companies developing blockchain applications.
Postscript 7.9.17: The UK is also looking into blockchain technology for it’s judicial system.