UK Department for Work and Pensions Exploring Blockchain Payments Solutions

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The UK’s pensions and welfare agency has said it is working with blockchain technology in a bid to improve its systems and internal processes, according to reports emerging today.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees welfare benefits while managing payments to claimants of everything from pensions to the so-called ‘Universal Credit’, said that distributed ledger technology would enable them to deliver more effective services, and with greater efficiency.

Richard Laycock, deputy director of Digital Delivery Shared Platforms at the Department for Work and Pensions said DLT would help the department ensure that payments reached those entitled to them as quickly as possible.

“As we move our Payment Services forward they need to be efficient, modern, fast, scalable, flexible, innovative and available 24/7.”

He said this would ultimately reduce the cost of handling payments, as well as streamlining the process of getting money in the hands of recipients.

“We are starting to see the first full production [DLT] implementations, such as Santander’s One Pay FX. The benefits include reducing time, cost and failure rate associated with making transactions whilst data is stored on a secure immutable ledger."

He said that beyond the Department for Work and Pensions, the revised payment architecture could ultimately help shape the UK-wide approach to cryptocurrencies and digital payments.

“I’m keen for us to consider how we can harness the payment innovations coming out of these trends and how we can influence the New Payment Architecture to help shape the future of payments across government.”

According to the department, work is already at an advanced stage in terms of researching how the platform might work in reality - described as “the biggest set of changes to the way UK payment schemes process payments in years.”

The news has been welcomed by blockchain and DLT advocates, with many citing the reduced cost and faster processing times of blockchain transactions as being amongst the main arguments for adoption at a departmental level.

With the Department for Work and Pensions example likely to represent a sizeable test case, it is expected to lead other government departments towards a commitment to develop similar systems of their own for more efficient payments and transactions.

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