Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested blockchain would be key in the world’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic as the technology can be used for contact tracing while ensuring privacy.
Aso gave the opening remarks for the Blockchain Global Governance Conference, also known as the FIN/SUM Blockchain & Business, on Aug. 24 in Tokyo.
"In the battle against widespread infectious diseases, blockchain provides one solution for contact tracing," he said, while referring to the coronavirus.
There are almost 24 million COVID-19 cases around the world, with more than 60,000 in Japan. Despite the topic of Aso’s speech, a limited number of people were allowed to physically attend the blockchain conference, with others watching speakers through livestream coverage.
The finance minister acknowledged that while the threat imposed by the coronavirus has not subsided, blockchain can provide privacy for anyone testing positive through contact tracing. In addition, the technology could give authorities a better measure of what needs to be done regarding containment, preventing possible outbreaks in the future.
Aso added that any conflict between the blockchain community and Japanese regulators needed to be addressed to make any progress in this regard.
“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,” he said. “What we need is to work together and collaborate to consider the best use of the technology under the best governance.”
Japan’s finance minister is not the first regulator to propose blockchain as a solution for some of the problems the country is facing under COVID. The CEO of financial giant SBI Holdings said in May that the technology could be useful in tracking and tracing the supply chain of essential materials, including masks.