Guardtime, a startup that uses the technology underpinning bitcoin to secure public and private data, has signed a deal with the Estonian government to secure all the country’s 1 million health records with its technology.
The deal with the Estonian e-Health Authority comes alongside a partnership with Estonian Information Systems Authority, which will see more government data move to Guardtime’s technology.
Guardtime uses blockchain technology, first invented to underpin bitcoin, to verify data and prove that its trustworthy. It has created a network that citizens, private companies, and the government can also access to verify information on it.
Estonia has one of the most digitally advanced societies in the world and helped to incubate Guardtime’s technology. Estonian citizens carry a smartcard that stores their data and gives them access to over 1,000 government services.
Mike Gault, co-founder and CEO of Guardtime, told Business Insider: “The only thing that you can’t do online in Estonia is get married or get divorced. Otherwise you don’t need to go to a government office.”
Gault said adopting Guardtime’s technology for healthcare records would allow Estonia to “effectively eliminate lies,” saying: “Every update to healthcare records and every access to healthcare records is registered in the blockchain. That makes it impossible for the government or doctors or anyone to cover up any changes to healthcare records and that’s really powerful.
“If you’re in the UK and you say what’s happened to my healthcare records? You just have to trust the NHS.”
Gault says Guardtime and the Estonian government now plan to migrate more data onto its “industrial blockchain.” First launched in 2007, it is also used by the US Department of Defence and Ericsson.
Blockchain technology — also known as distributed ledger technology — is a non-centralised database that allows a network of users to sign off and police data.
Data being added to the network is inspected by a majority of member of the network to make sure its accurate and once it’s signed off the data is coded using complex cryptography which means it cannot be changed once it’s added to the blockchain. It uses duplicated ledgers across a variety of servers, meaning if one is compromised the data is still intact.
Banks and finance firms have been getting excited about the cost cutting potential of the technology, as it would allow them to deal directly with each other rather than working through clearing and settlement houses who police trade to make sure no one gets ripped off.
R3, an industry-wide consortium of over 40 banks, announced on Thursday that its members had tested out issuing, trading, and redeeming fixed income products on 5 blockchains, signalling another step towards mainstream adoption.
But Gault told Business Insider: “We see the real opportunity for blockchain technology as data and data security.”
Guardtime’s CTO, Matthew Johnson, joined the company after performing due diligence on it for the US Department of Defence, which was keen to work with the business.
Johnson told BI: “The more I got involved with the company over the year 2012/13 I was absolutely convinced that what Estonia had built was indeed game-changing. I quit my job and moved to Estonia for the better part of a year to mature the technology roadmap.”
Guardtime had revenues of $25 million last year and Gault confirmed the company has contracts with Ericsson, defence giant Lockheed Martin, and the US military. Of the latter, he said: “It’s not something we can talk a lot about.”