While digital currency markets in 2018 have tumbled, blockchain adoption has surged. Dubai has become the latest country to embrace the technology to streamline its existing online payments platform.

A UAE government enterprise called Smart Dubai announced the launch of integrated blockchain into its DubaiPay payments platform via Twitter at the weekend: “SmartDubai continues to grow through the horizon of success as they launch the “Payment Reconciliation and Settlement” System today, developed in collaboration with #Dubai Department of Finance as a #Blockchain-powered upgrade to its financial system.”

The platform is a government-provided facility which allows users to query amounts they owe and pay off bills for state entities and public services. Currently DubaiPay has over 40 entities using the platform, with 27 government and 14 non-government agencies connected to the portal. The system handles large sums and a large numbers of transactions. According to the director of smart services enablement department at Smart Dubai, Mira Sultan Obaid Abdul Rahman, DubaiPay collected around $3 billion from 9.4 million transactions in 2017.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority were the first two government agencies to join the program, and have already processed over $5 million in blockchain transactions. The Dubai Department of Finance controls the transactions on DubaiPay and is looking to enhance efficiency by transferring all transactions onto the blockchain.

Rahman added that “There is no real-time monitoring of the transaction in the old system and with blockchain, the whole process can be monitored in real time. The DoF has to do some manual work such as exchanging files between them, banks and the entities before a final payment is made to the entity,” speaking to Gulf News.

More government entities are expected to join the scheme, including Dubai Police, Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Airports, Dubai Customs, Dubai Municipality, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai Courts, Dubai Holding, and several banks and financial services providers.

Distributed ledger software is being developed by Avanaza Solutions, a firm specializing in software for the banking and finance industry. In the case of DubaiPay, blockchain will be used to complement existing systems and could be introduced into other industries such as identity, property, healthcare, energy, trading, and loyalty programs.

The Dubai government is currently working with 20 other blockchain projects and has made partnerships with IBM and Consensys to consult on Smart Dubai. It aims to become the world’s first blockchain-powered government by 2020.