Credits Wins Deal to Provide Blockchain-as-a-Service to U.K. Government

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / michaldziedziakLooks like Nick Williamson is holding a royal flush.

The former professional poker player saw his startup Credits win a contract to provide his blockchain-platform-as-a-service to the United Kingdom through the Government Digital Services’ Digital Marketplace earlier this week. This comes just four months after Credits launched its PaaS in beta.

For Credits and Williamson, the PaaS is just an early step in the long game known as digital currency.

In a video interview at the beta launch this past April, Williamson and co-founder Eric Benz wave off all the consumer-oriented blockchain startups. The history of technology suggests that high tech innovators need to start with B2B before heading to the consumer.

Williamson observes: In the 1980s, desktop computers were for spreadsheet geeks and didn’t spread to the average Joe until the 1990s. Similarly, the ubiquitous smartphone began as the business status symbol PDA and Blackberry. Benz calls blockchain technology “nascent” — nowhere ready for prime time.

Blockchain may be nascent but Credits has the aura of a winner, reminding me of the very early days of TransferWise, the red-hot currency exchange service. Last year, Credits won a contract from the Isle of Man to act as a registry for the 25 blockchain companies located there. At the time, Williamson made it clear that this was just a stepping stone.

In a presentation last year, Williamson called blockchain “a marriage of databases and business logic.” It has the advantage also of leaving an audit trail with built in authentication. For the G-Cloud, as the UK government digital marketplace is known, that would mean greater transparency and less fraud.

Indeed, the U.K. government has been on the cutting edge in exploring how the distributed ledger can improve services for British citizens. In a recent report on the use of the blockchain, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport, wrote:

‘…distributed ledger technology has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and citizens in terms of data-sharing, transparency and trust.‘

For Credits, this appears to be another win at the table in the early days of the blockchain global tournament. “We are really building out an ecosystem of federated networks,” Williamson explained in his 2015 presentation, “where you have providers on one side and consumers on the other side and they communicate through standardized APIs in the middle.”

For the retired poker pro who played as many as 24 hands simultaneously, the complexity that lies ahead is likely invigorating.

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