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Japan’s Finance Minister suggests employing blockchain technology for Covid-19 contact tracing

Japan's Finance Ministry is urging for the use of blockchain in the country's efforts against the spread of the coronavirus.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Tue, 25 Aug 2020, 08:21 am UTC

While doctors and researchers all over the world are doing their best to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, front liners are likewise hard at work in keeping the coronavirus pandemic in check. One method put forth by a Japanese official is to employ blockchain, the technology behind popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) for contact tracing purposes.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso made the suggestion during the Blockchain Global Governance Conference held in Tokyo on August 24, according to Cointelegraph. While giving the opening remarks, Aso suggested that blockchain would play a key role in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the battle against widespread infectious diseases, blockchain provides one solution for contact tracing,” the Japanese finance minister said.

As of August 24, 2020, 23.8 million people have already tested positive for the Covid-19 while more than 800 thousand perished due to the virus based on data from Worldometers.info. Only a handful of the participants attended the blockchain conference while the rest watched the livestream coverage of the event as part of social distancing measures.

Taro Aso acknowledges that the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic has not yet been eliminated. However, the finance noted that blockchain technology is suitable for contract tracing as it can provide privacy for those being tested.

But Taro Aso pointed out the need for Japanese regulators and the blockchain community to thresh out potential issues and conflicts first. “Some of the blockchain communities may still be hostile to regulators because of the belief they may hinder innovation due to a lack of understanding of the technology,” the finance minister said. “What we need is to work together and collaborate to consider the best use of technology under the best governance.”

While Japan is still mulling on the possibility of using blockchain in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, other countries have already integrated the technology into their efforts. For instance, tourists visiting the South Korean island of Jeju are now required to install a blockchain-based app for contact tracing purposes.

“ICONLOOP and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province have signed a cooperation agreement to introduce this innovative COVID-19 and infectious disease prevention system,” ICONLOOP said in a release. “Visitors will use a mobile app to check into tourist destinations and businesses on Jeju Island, with their data kept private unless a COVID-19 case is discovered.”

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