Unveiling Blockchain 4.0: Laos’ path to digital transformation

Category: Asia Blockchain Regulatory
Posted by Matthew Calleja

On May 26, 2023, the Laotian government, together with esteemed blockchain experts, convened the inaugural Ministerial Conference on Blockchain 4.0 Digital Transformation. This significant event took place at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Prime Minister’s vision: Laos leads in Blockchain 4.0

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, the conference brought together leaders from key economic departments. The primary objective of the gathering was to deliberate on strategies for advancing Laos’ digital transformation through the effective utilisation of digital technology. Importantly, it marked the unveiling of the Blockchain 4.0 concept to the global stage, advocating for collaborative endeavours and positioning Laos as a proactive participant and beneficiary within the emerging global digital landscape.

Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone emphasised the imperative of integrating blockchain technology into various government operations, highlighting its vital role in achieving Laos’ ambitious ninth five-year plan for national economic and social development. He underscored the need for robust efforts in the development and extensive application of blockchain technology to enhance administrative management and public services.

The Laotian Minister of Technology, Boveingkham Vongdara, acknowledged that Laos faces both opportunities and challenges arising from the advent of Industry 4.0. To effectively address these dynamics, it becomes crucial for Laos to harness the potential of blockchain technology to transform production methods and service delivery. In support of Laos’ digital transformation journey, the Ministry of Technology has forged a collaborative agreement with MetaBank, a distinguished Singaporean entity. The partnership aims to establish a dedicated blockchain technology research and development centre, fostering the cultivation of expertise in this field.

The Ministerial Conference on Blockchain 4.0 Digital Transformation in Laos outlined a comprehensive set of goals aimed at driving the development of the country’s digital economy. These objectives encompassed various aspects, including the utilisation of digital technology to generate new sources of fiscal revenue, bolster foreign exchange reserves, mitigate inflation, foster sustainable economic growth, enhance living standards, and bolster international competitiveness in the near term. To ensure the effective implementation of these goals, the conference put forth the proposal for establishing a dedicated Blockchain Technology Transformation Committee. This committee would assume the responsibility of ensuring legal compliance and formulating legislation pertinent to the burgeoning digital economy.

Participating experts’ insights

The Blockchain 4.0 conference was led by the Prime Minister of Lao,
Sonexay Siphandone has been serving as the Prime Minister of Laos since assuming office on December 30, 2022.

Experts participating in the conference highlighted the potential of blockchain technology to facilitate “leapfrog development” for developing nations. They emphasised that the journey towards becoming a digital nation can be divided into four distinct stages: the establishment of digital infrastructure, the deployment of robust cybersecurity measures, the support for digitalization across various industries, and the creation of a comprehensive “digital brain.” To successfully traverse these stages, developing countries should prioritise open collaboration, leverage borderless blockchain technology to attract talented individuals, and foster the development of informed “netizen citizens.”

During the conference, Professor Bill Roscoe offered valuable insights, asserting that blockchain technology serves as a transformative force propelling society towards a digital civilization. He emphasised the importance of introducing blockchain-based products and services to facilitate the acceptance and understanding of the digital world by ordinary individuals. Professor Roscoe emphasised the need for a controllable platform that ensures compliance with laws and regulations by citizens, businesses, and the government alike. With its ability to establish an efficient platform and achieve optimal balance and integration between different applications and jurisdictions, blockchain emerges as a cornerstone in the construction of a digital civilization. Professor Roscoe firmly stated that the trajectory towards a digital civilization is inevitable for the future development of society, with blockchain playing a pivotal role in its foundation.

Frank Sui, the founder and chairman of MetaBank, holds a firm belief in the potential of blockchain technology to propel developing countries forward and enable them to surpass traditional development trajectories. MetaBank’s mission is to serve as a leading solution partner, leveraging blockchain technology to accelerate the transformation of developing nations towards a digital civilization. Their objective is to enhance the GDP and living standards of these countries by establishing a digital civilization built on three key pillars: a robust digital financial infrastructure, a platform for digital asset tokenization, and the construction of a digital society.

Blockchain expert Zhu Jiawei emphasises that the construction of a digital nation has entered its fourth stage. Developing countries should prioritise open collaboration, leveraging borderless technology to attract technical talents and foster the development of informed “netizen citizens.” During the Blockchain 4.0 Conference, Zhu Jiawei outlined a four-level path for the construction of a digital nation: (1) the deployment of digital science and technology infrastructure, (2) the establishment of physical and cybersecurity facilities to safeguard the digital economy, (3) the support for digitalization across various industries to ensure they keep pace with the changing times, and (4) the utilisation of artificial intelligence technology to build a digital brain capable of intelligent management from cities to the national level.

Lily Zhang, co-founder of D11 Labs, identifies the current era as the fourth open revolution characterised by openness, co-construction, sharing, prosperity, and the emergence of new orders. Zhang believes that Laos, through the utilisation of blockchain technology, can gain a significant development advantage and achieve leapfrog development. She envisions Laos becoming the first country to fully undergo digital transformation, redefining its role within the global order and attaining a competitive edge that influences the direction of global affairs, ultimately benefiting the lives of the Laotian people.

The resolute commitment of the Lao government to adopt blockchain technology and prioritize the digital economy is evident, drawing parallels with recent initiatives seen in other progressive governments. The Ministerial Conference on Blockchain 4.0 serves as a testament to the foresight and resolve of the Lao government in pursuing digital economic development. The government will assume a crucial leadership role, establishing a national digital transformation committee to oversee the implementation of related policies and promote their successful execution. Laos warmly welcomes participation from all sectors in the digital economy’s development. In the future, Laos aims to become a model for the application of blockchain technology, leading the way in the development of the new digital society.

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