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Blockchain and Bitcoin as a way to lift a country out of poverty

Tourism 2.0 and e-governance in the Republic of Moldova

ABSTRACT

In this article, we explore the formidable yet untapped capabilities of Blockchain technology and
Bitcoin in order to alleviate poverty. We focus on the Republic of Moldova, which has been plagued
by endemic corruption and persistently high poverty levels since her Independence in 1991 following
the collapse of the Soviet Union. The transformative power of Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are
then evidenced through a dual analysis of tourism 2.0 (with a real-world case study) and e-governance,
which can contribute to increased inward capital investment flows, and help fight off corruption
practices. Finally, we conclude that these new technologies constitute a significant step in the right
direction, in order to break away from twenty-five years of disappointing socio-economic
development performance.

Keywords: Blockchain technology, tourism 2.0, e-governance, corruption, Republic of Moldova

Marc Pilkington, Associate Professor, University of Burgundy, France

Rodica Crudu, Associate Professor, Academy of Economic Science in Moldova (ASEM)

Lee Gibson Grant, Blockchain entrepreneur, Founder of Drachmae Project, UK


Introduction
Digital technologies play a pivotal role in developing countries as they promote social
inclusion, efficiency and innovation (World Bank, 2016, p.2). It sometimes comes as a
surprise to observers that in seventy percent of developing countries, in households lacking
electricity or drinking water, mobile phones are nevertheless present (e-government-center,
2016). In this regard, following Indias Aadhaar (ibid.), the Republic of Moldova is a
pioneering country in digital identity protocols (e-government), which is an integral part of
blossoming e-governance schemes in developing countries.
Many governments use digital technology, but these did not manage to solve two crucial problems: to
improve the management of the relationships with the public sector and to involve the citizens in the
process. At the global level, the transparency level of the governments is very low, though it can be
improved by means of digital technology (e-government center 2016).

As stated by Deloitte (Piscini et al., 2016), trust is foundational to business, yet maintaining
trustparticularly throughout a global economyis expensive, time-consuming, and, in
many cases, inefficient. Could blockchain applications become part of the answer? In this
article, we put forward the idea that trust is foundational to tourism attractiveness as shown by
the declining tourism figures in the aftermath of the 13.11.2015 and 14.07.2016 attacks in
France (tourism review, 2016; Newsweek, 2016), and to efficient democratic governance.
Both factors are conducive to socio-economic development, and could help lift the Republic
of Moldova out of poverty: Like the Internet reinvented communication, blockchain may
similarly disrupt transactions, contracts, and trustthe underpinnings of business,
government, and society (ibid.). By the end of February 2016, [a]pproximately US$1b has
been invested in blockchain-related start-ups to date, half of that figure was in the last
calendar year (Holmes, 2016).

I) Poverty and corruption in the Republic of Moldova

1) Links between corruption and poverty in Moldova: a review of literature

Corruption can be apprehended through the lenses of the CPIA (Country Policy and
Institutional Assessments), a tool developed by the World Bank (2016) measuring the extent
to which policies and the institutional framework support sustainable growth and poverty
reduction, and the effective use of development assistance.
Transparency, accountability, and corruption in the public sector assess the extent to which
the executive power is held accountable for its use of funds. It also assesses the results of its
actions by the electorate and by the legislature and judiciary, and the extent to which public
employees within the executive power are required to account for administrative decisions,
use of resources, and the results obtained. The CPIA focuses on the accountability of the
executive power to oversight institutions, and of public employees for their performance,
access of civil society to information on public affairs, and state capture by narrow vested
interests (Measuring Progress, 2015; Carasciuc, 2000, p.8).

As explained in the Transition Report (EBRD, 1999, p.117)

State capture commonly refers to the extent to which government policy-making is unduly influenced by
a narrow set of interest groups in the economy who provide private benefits to politicians. Russia s
governance problems, for example, are often blamed on the so-called oligarchs, who urge the state to
grant them a range of special privileges and exemptions that undermine market-oriented institutions
at a high cost to the rest of the economy.

Regarding the relationship between the low quality of governance in transition countries and
the state capture phenomenon, the ERBD remains very cautious (ibid., p.119, footnote)

Of course, correlation does not necessarily signify causation. State capture itself could be a function of
weak governance overall. However, this begs the question of what prevents the state from under taking
reforms that would lead to improvements in the quality of governance. The argument suggested above is
that high-capture states have weaker incentives and fewer constraints that might lead them to make the
necessary investments to improve governance.
What are the causes of corruption? First and foremost, one must distinguish between social,
moral, economic, political and institutional causes. Legal causes include outdated and
inadequate legislation; institutional causes include ill-conceived anti-corruption strategies,
lack of transparency, and rent-seeking practices. Economic causes include low wages for civil
servants, delays in wage payment, thereby giving rise to a personal integrity versus survival
trade-off. Political causes pertain to the pervasive interests of oligarchs and the existence of a
captive state (Carasciuc, 2001, p.6). Social and moral causes include the erosion of ethical
values of government officials (ibid.), faltering credibility of the mass media (ibid., p.7) and
stubbornly high public tolerance of corruption (ibid.). Corruption has often been compared to
an epidemic or a spreading disease (ibid., p.6). The contagion inherent in corruption-prone
state structures has characterized the Republic of Moldova for the last three decades
throughout the transition period (ibid.). Moreover, it is worthwhile investigating the
boundaries between informality and corruption epitomized by the system of blat (ibid., p.6).
Ledenava (2014, p.15) analyzes the use of personal networks in Soviet Russia, what she calls
the economy of favors referring both to the circulation thereof with access to the centrally
distributed goods, services and privileges, but also to the sociability of blat channels. The
system of blat transformed these favors into an alternative currency of mutual help and
mutual understanding within a centrally planned nonmarket economy characterized by
shortage and sometimes frustration. A socio-historical and anthropological analysis will help
put back the phenomenon of corruption in perspective in post-communist countries:

On the individual level, favors delivered by friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends granted
solutions to small-time problems. On a societal level, they represented a way out for the Soviet system
that struggled to adhere to its own proclaimed principles. A discrete redistribution of resources within
social networks an implicit social contract, known as the little deal became part of the solution
[] A Russian phrase nelzya, no mozhno (prohibited, yet possible) offered a summary understanding
of the Soviet society with its all-embracing restrictions and the labyrinth of possibilities around them []
Obtaining goods and services through blat channels provided just one example of the many informal
practices that made the Soviet regime more tolerable and, at the same time, helped to undermine its
political, economic, and social foundations (ibid.).

Rising inequalities in Moldova threaten social cohesion: recent economic growth and social
progress has disproportionately benefited the bigger cities, while people in rural areas
continue to have fewer economic opportunities and only partial access to services such as
health, education, water and sanitation at best (National Development Report, 2014, p.4).
The Republic of Moldova did not find itself plagued by corruption all of a sudden after the
collapse of the Soviet Union, as it existed under communism as well (Kramer, 1977).
However, it started flourishing after 1991, due to poor anti-corruption practices, weakened
state institutions, the lack of enforcement of existing laws, low salaries in the public sector,
unbridled privatization under the impulse of unscrupulous oligarchs, because in transition
countries, politicians are directly dependent on oligarchs (Parmentier, 2016). Unfortunately,
this depressing state of affairs has had an adverse impact on Moldovas socio-economic
development performance since 1991 (Pilkington, 2016c). The link between corruption and
poverty in the Republic in Moldova has been acknowledged by major international
organizations such as Transparency International (2016). Corruption and poor access to
information are deeply interlinked (ibid.). For long, Moldovan citizens have had very little
access to common procedures such as the registration of a private company, or even the
payment of taxes. Bribes have often been the missing link between citizens and state
institutions in Moldova. Tax evasion and money laundering have become commonplace,
epitomized in 2015 by the gigantic banking scandal or theft of the century (Pilkington, 2015).
Table 1 A Brief History of the Republic of Moldova

1984-1994: initial phase of transition from a command system to a market system (hysteresis effects,
persistence of the soviet blat system, feeling of abandonment by the population...). The country gains
independence on 27 August 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

1995-2000: oligarchic capital accumulation, clanization of political life synonymous with grand level
corruption (Carasciuc, 2001, p.6), progressive impoverishment of the Moldovan population. In 1998,
the state nearly defaults in the aftermath of the Russian crisis. Adherence to a political clan was a kind
of guarantee for their protection, and for barring legitimate security authorities from having access to
information on their activities, including criminal activities. The stop-and-go approach to reforms, the
development of powerful vested interest groups and political instability prevented the creation of the
functioning market economy conducive to growth of private entrepreneurship and investments. Wrong
microeconomic incentives, resulting from neglecting structural reforms, proliferation of non-payment
culture and corruption, contributed to the slow pace of enterprise restructuring, lack of market
orientation, scarcity of new market entries, low level of investments and waste of recourses in non-
productive or even value-detracting activities. In this situation, sustainable growth could not take place.

2000-2009: acceleration of pro-market reforms under the mandate of Communist president (!) Voronin

2009-2016: following the Twitter revolution and the demise of Voronin in May 2009, succession of so-
called pro-European parties forming fragile parliamentary alliances. After a short-lived heralded
success story of the Eastern Partnership (Rinnert, 2013), Moldova has been marred with corruption
scandals and street protests since 2013 reaching their paroxysm in 2015-2016.

Government involvement in economic life is symbiotic with corruption trends. This is so


because government contracts (e.g procurement), privileged market positions and credit
conditions can arouse the interests of the private sector that seeks to obtain favourable
taxation conditions and regulatory provisions by means of party financing, or the nomination
of specific individuals for some government positions (Carasciuc, 2001, p.7). However,
drawing on the example of Scandinavian countries (ibid.), let us note that the size of the
public sector is not necessarily an indicator of the degree of corruption of the country. A
socio-historical and cultural analysis of the way the public sector operates (and not its size) is
paramount to validate the relation (ibid.). A parallel may be drawn with the recent FIFA
corruption scandal that led to the suspension of former UEFA president Michel Platini. In this
configuration, national federation financing ensures the social reproduction of political elites
who grant financial advantages to the people who help maintain the electoral status quo (Le
Monde, 2016). The same alas applies to political party financing in Moldova. As Rinnert
(2013, p.1) argues,

Many local observers pointed to the incoherence of the success story engineered in Brussels, referring to
the lasting corruption among the highest officials long before the crisis. In any case, it became quite clear
that the elites special interests were dominating the political system in spite of the pro-European
government.
Although the Republic of Moldova can be objectively characterized as a highly corrupt
country due to idiosyncratic historical, sociological, economic and political circumstances,
corruption is indeed inherent in human nature, and contingent on the universal effect of power
on human beings: power corrupts. You can read about that in the writings of the ancient
Greek philosophers, and nothing really has changed only that scale of power, and the scale
of misery that can be created when that power is wielded to do bad things (Antonopoulos
interviewed by Sparkes, 2014).

2) A unifying theme of the 2015-2016 protests

The stunning feature of the 2015-2016 street protests in the Republic of Moldova was the
unifying theme of corruption reuniting disillusioned citizens, and transcending political and
ideological (pro-European vs pro-Russian) forces. The trigger of the protests in 2015 was the
publication on Monday 4 May 2015 of the Kroll report.

after thousands of people rallied on Sunday, 3 May in the capital, Chisinau, to protest against endemic
corruption in the country, and demand recovery of the missing billions in the so-called Ilan Shor group
scandal. The Kroll Report investigates the apparent theft of nearly one-fifth of the countrys annual GDP.
In a spectacular lender-of-last resort move, the Moldovan central bank was forced to issue some 16 billion
lei ($870 million) in emergency loans to keep the economy afloat (Pilkington, 2015, p.252).

After other sporadic protests during the summer,

On 6 September Moldovas capital, Chisinau, saw the largest civic protests since independence. These
protests, where up to 100,000 people took to the streets, were larger than the 2009 protests that brought
about the Twitter Revolution and the fall of the Voronin government. The protests in the symbolically
important Piaa Marii Adunri Naionale [], the historical site of protest in Moldova, are the result of
growing dissatisfaction among the electorate since the revelation in November 2014 of the heist of the
century [] through the countrys three main banks (Brett et al, 2015).

Pilkington (2016c, p.505) argues that


Moldova needs to consolidate the rule of Law, and move away from reform inertia, which has
characterized the country for so long. It needs to put an end to the control of the judiciary power by
politicians, thereby propelling judicial nihilism and corruption in Moldovan society.

In 2009, the demise of the Communist regime sparked hope that Moldova would embrace
pro-Europe reforms, and move toward enhanced political transparency, accountability and
responsibility. Between 2009 and 2015, growing dissatisfaction built up over the elites
deemed corruption and arrogance (Brett et al., 2015), culminating in 2015 with the massive
banking scandal (Pilkington, 2015). A unifying theme of the 2015-2016 protests is therefore
the rejection of corruption by a wide range of citizens representing eclectic cross sections of
society (rural and urban, young and old, lower middle class and intellectuals). From
September 2015 onwards, anti-government protests, structured around the Truth and Dignity
platform (Moldovan Politics, 2016), were led by notorious figures of civil society. After a
stunning self-denunciation by Ilan Shor, one of the main suspects in the massive banking
fraud, the former Prime Minister Vlad Filat was arrested on 15 October 2015 over allegations
of corruption (Foy, 2015).
Post-soviet republics are characterized by an authoritarian default political system and a
unified set of ideas endorsed by the elites tantamount to a so-called Moscow Consensus.
However, since the end of the Cold War, the active promotion of ideology has not played the
pivotal function that once sustained Marxism and Leninism; rather, these post-soviet regimes
aim to pursue their strategic interests, which are compatible with illiberal or low democracy
ideas, tactics and strategies (Eurobelarus, 2016). These post-soviet republics are characterized
by a Hobbesian political order that promotes a strong state and hierarchical political elites (1)
a defiance toward Western influence (2) a quest for international respect and acceptance (3) a
form of contempt toward the masses (4) the endorsement of structural reforms conducive to
economic growth and modernization that goes hand in hand with the integration of the
domestic elites into a global financial elite (5) a reluctance to allow a genuine market
economy at home (6). All in all, political leaders of post-soviet Republics are not opposed to
business as long as they can control it, which raises the issue of the amalgamation of money
and power into a single system, what Alena Ledeneva labels the sistema, blurring the line
between the public and the private sectors, and questioning the effectiveness of regulation and
the judicial system (ibid.).

II) Poverty alleviation and tourism 2.0 in the Republic of Moldova

1) Links between tourism and poverty alleviation

In spite of the fast growth in the run-up to the global crisis, and the brevity of the recession
that started in 2009, Moldova remains, as it is oft-quoted, a poor country (International
Monetary Fund, 2014).
Table 2 Effects of the global crisis on per GDP capita in Moldova

Source: Stratan (2010)

With a 4.5% GDP contraction, the Republic of Moldova suffered in 2015 from the downturn
in Russia, Russia trades embargo and the resulting shrinking exports to Russia (by half) not
to forget the decreasing remittances from Russia (-30%). However, the main factor for
Moldovas disappointing economic development is bad governance and corruption, which
render the institutions that should hold political actors accountable for their behaviour
ineffective. For World Banks representative to Moldova Alex Kramer (cited by Nato PA,
2015), the country should have been the tiger of Europe because of its geographic
proximity to the European Union, its low wage level, and its very good overall performance
after the financial crisis of 2008, it is still a Tiger in a cage. Despite a sharp decline in
poverty in recent years, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, and
structural reforms are needed to promote sustainable growth. An interesting measure is the
Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (Alkire and Santos, 2014) taking into account three
dimensions and ten indicators, with a person identified as multidimensionally poor if (s)he is
deprived in at least one third of the weighted indicators.

Chart 1 The Multidimensional Poverty Index methodology

Source: Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (2016)


If a person is deprived in 20-33% of the weighted indicate, they are considered vulnerable to
Poverty, and if they are deprived in 50% or more, they are identified as being in severe
poverty. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (2016) displays the results
for Moldova:

Table 3 Multidimensional Poverty in Moldova (urban and rural areas)

Source: Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (2016)

Moldova has made a lot of progress in poverty alleviation over the last decade, and should be
given credit for her accomplishments according to the International Monetary Fund, and the
World Bank. It is still the case that many people live under the poverty threshold.
Although tourism in Moldova is embryonic, it could follow suit countries that have used
tourism as a development engine with the implementation and monitoring of projects, which
have contributed to the enhanced welfare of local populations. The link between poverty
alleviation and tourism was first acknowledged in 1999 by the United Nations Commission
on Sustainable Development (CSD-7) which set the objective to maximize the potential of
tourism for eradicating poverty by developing appropriate strategies in cooperation with all
major groups, and indigenous and local communities (CSD7 1999, p. 39). Pro-poor tourism
has been a flourishing research area ever since (Ashley, 2006; Ashley & Goodwin, 2007;
Ashley & Haysom, 2008; Organisation Mondiale du Tourisme [OMT], 2002, 2005; Pro-Poor
Tourism Partnership, 2004, 2005a, 2005b). SNV (i.e. Netherlands Development Organisation)
is an international not-for-profit development organization that works on poverty alleviation
schemes and sustainable development in twenty countries and five regions of the world. SNV
has been active in the tourism sector since 1994 (OMT & SNV, 2015, p. xv), in order to
alleviate poverty through the increase in production, income and employment opportunities
for underprivileged populations. SNV supervises field work and conducts ground-level
studies to assess how financial flows that circulate in the tourism sector eventually reach the
poor. Tourism projects in developing countries set the stage for innovative public-private
partnerships. Tourism is paramount in the rural development of the country, and its poverty
reduction strategy (United Nations, 2008, p. 25):

Rural tourism plays an important role for the economic, social and cultural development of the rural areas. It is
closely related to agricultural production, regional development, natural environment, and rural way of life showing
traditional lifestyle, ambience, cultural and historical traditions.

Table 4 Tourism and poverty alleviation mechanisms

1. All aspects and types of tourism should be concerned about poverty alleviation.

2. All governments should include poverty alleviation as a key aim of tourism development and
consider tourism as a possible tool for reducing poverty.

3. The competitiveness and economic success of tourism businesses and destinations is critical
to poverty alleviation.

4. All tourism businesses should be concerned about the impact of their activities on local
communities and seek to benefit the poor through their actions.

5. Tourism destinations should be managed with poverty alleviation as a central aim that is built
into strategies and action plans.

6. A sound understanding of how tourism functions in destinations is required, including how


tourism income is distributed and who benefits from it.

7. Planning and development of tourism in destinations should involve a wide range of inter-
ests, including participation and representation from poor communities.

8. All potential impacts of tourism on the livelihood of communities should be considered, in-
cluding current and future local and global impacts on natural and cultural resources.

9. Attention must be paid to the viability of all projects involving the poor, ensuring access to
markets and maximising opportunities for beneficial links with local enterprises.

10. Impacts of tourism on poverty alleviation should be effectively monitored.

Source: Pilkington (2016c)

It is unclear whether tourism should somehow help the underprivileged fringe of society.
More particularly, how should it benefit the poor, households who lack access to education
and basic health care or people who suffer from disabilities or other health care problems?
The latter are likely to be unable to participate directly in tourism activities. However, they
might benefit from spill-over effects on other activities as well as from investment in social
infrastructures promoted by tourism. Moreover, these weak segments of society should be
protected from the adverse consequences of tourism. The UN has acknowledged the link
between tourism and poverty alleviation in a context of sustainable development (CSD7,
1999). The following principles for pursuing poverty alleviation through tourism take into
account previous, longstanding and relevant principles for pro-poor tourism (Pro-Poor
Tourism Partnership, 2005a).
Tourism has some characteristics that make it attractive to low-income countries and
underprivileged communities. Tourism puts emphasis on certain characteristics common to
developing countries, such as warm weather, rich cultural heritage, beauty of landscapes and
biodiversity. In this respect, Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape meets all these is part
of the Tentative List, in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List by
UNESCO1. Many of these advantages are often found in rural areas. This constitutes a
competitive advantage for tourism, while a drawback for most other sectors. Tourism is
accessible to the poor, as it is relatively labour intensive, and often composed of small and
medium-sized enterprises, and micro-enterprises. Tourism activities lend themselves to
women, young people, and underprivileged groups, such as ethnic minorities. The poor can
find employment in the tourism sector, as the required skills need not be discouraging, and
part-time work is often the norm. Tourism services are made of a wide array of activities and
factors. Tourists spend their money on different types of goods and services, which benefit
agriculture, craftsmanship, and transports. There will be a multiplier effect, as economic
agents benefiting from the consumption of tourists, make additional expenses in the rest of the
economy.
Tourism bridges the gap between producers and consumers. The interaction between tourists
and underprivileged communities gives rise to mutually advantageous exchanges between the
two groups, such as enhanced awareness of social and environmental issues or benefits from
improved social infrastructures. Social work can be consolidated by tourism enterprises,
which are in a position to bridge the gap between an informal configuration wherein revenues
barely cover the costs of a micro-enterprise, and a more formal and better-structured entity
that attracts further investment potential.

2) A real-world example: Moldova Tours 2.0

Moldova Tours 2.0 is a start-up company of a new kind in the field of tourism 2.0 aimed at
foreigners with a thematic approach to its product-offer, to take into account the aspirations
and needs of visitors travelling to Moldova. The startup plans to offer a blend of entry points
to discover beautiful Moldova so as to fill personal aspirations and objectives. The Republic
1
http://whc.unesco.org/fr/listesindicatives/5937/
Moldova is a young country in its current form, following notably the collapse of the Soviet
Union and its independence in 1991. Its people are welcoming and often multilingual with a
vibrant and dynamic culture, and a sense of openness to the world. The country, bordered by
Romania and Ukraine, was voted by readers of Lonely Planet in 2013 the number two off-the-
beaten-path destination in the world.

Table 5 Prospective Tours offered by Moldova Tours 2.0

1) The Monastery Tour


2) The Wine Tour
3) The History Tour (Art, History and Culture)
4) The Outdoors Tour
5) The Linguistic Tour (Romanian/Russian): stay in host families
6) The Academic Tour
7) The Social Business Tour
8) The Corporate Tour (for potential investors)
9) The Geopolitical Tour (guided tour to Transnistria)
10) The Freedom Tour (entirely customized)

III) Bitcoin and Blockchain for Tourism 2.0

Olson and Wessel (2016) explain that, the blockchain is a perpetually updated record of
transactions independently saved by users across the internet, in other words an immutable
distributed ledger. Following Brokaw (2014), Swan (2016), and Hayes (2015), Pilkington
(2016a) sketches out a list of important applications, bearing in mind the most recent
developments. He explains that the notable exception of token-free applications, the tour de
force of the blockchain is to remove the need for a trusted third party to guarantee a
transaction. Guaranteeing trust is precisely what the Moldovan tourism ecosystem needs
today. Lubarova et al (2000, p.22) had already emphasized this argument at the dawn of the
new millennium from the viewpoint of a country taken as a whole. Trust is paramount for
Moldova, in order to attract foreign direct investment and international trade, to reduce the
attractiveness of permanent emigration, notably the most skilled individuals, and also capital
flight (ibid.). Trust also reduces uncertainty, thereby improving the business climate for
investment decisions and startup initiatives; it also discourages fraud, thereby enhancing the
reputational capital of the country (ibid.). Trust is contingent on the existence of a legal
framework which is protective for citizens and entrepreneurs, and ensures that contractual
obligations are enforced. The reconstruction of the State as the guardian of the legal order is a
necessary condition, in order to fight off corruption. The future prosperity of Moldova will
depend on the success of the latter endeavour (ibid.). In this respect, it is worthwhile noting
that the blockchain is an unprecedented purveyor of trust (The Economist, 2015). We are now
way past the stage where Bitcoin and the Blockchain are confused in the eyes of the public
(Mc Kinsey, 2015, p.5). Thus, for Maxwell and Speed (2015), already there are examples of
blockchain technologies extending beyond the realm of currency. Pilkington (2016a)
emphasizes the untapped potential of the blockchain in terms of social inclusion, and
explicitly refers to the Republic of Moldova with the weight of remittances in per capita GDP
that could be facilitated by blockchain-based mobile applications (ibid.). He concludes that
more blockchain applications will emerge in the near future in areas as diverse as art,
tourism and sports (ibid., italics added).

Blockchain technology could enhance accounting for travel companies, which have
complicated ledgers to track, and payments to settle in multiple countries and currencies (O
Neill, 2016). We draw hereafter on the example of the Drachmae Project in circulation on the
Greek island of Agistri. Drachmae Project was created, and is managed by Lee Gibson Grant
(Cuthbertson, 2015), and was first sponsored by SuperNet, an association of various
cryptocurrencies (Lombardo, 2015). Although the first tourism 2.0 use cases were structured
around the Nautilus digital currency designed to establish and study a micro economy with
growth-enhancing P2P lending (Kelly & al., 2016), Drachmae Project targets live use cases to
establish the viability of blockchain solutions outside the realms of cryptocurrencies.
Although the latter were used to circumvent capital controls at the peak of the crisis (Fletcher,
2015), the same outcome can be achieved through token-free blockchains, side chains or child
chains. The Drachmae Money platform is inspired by the WIR business group and alternative
currency project developed in Switzerland in the 1930s (Gesell, 1958).
The WIR business group cooperative was founded October 1934 in Zurich, motivated mainly by the bad
economic situation of the time. The idea was to actively combat the crisis with the help of a "ring
exchange system" modeled after a Scandinavian and Baltic organization. The founders of the WIR
business circle cooperative Werner Zimmermann and Paul Enz were not only supporters of the free
money theory of Silvio Gesell, but versatile, far-sighted reformers who were far ahead of their time in
some areas (Simon, translated by Almstedt and Greco, 1994 [2006]).
Several Drachmae Project use cases already exist in the Greek travel and tourism industry,
which accounts for 18.6% of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise to 22.4% of GDP by 2026
(World Travel & Tourism Council, 2016, p.3).

Chart 2 Total contribution of Greeces travel and tourism sector to total GDP

Source: World Travel & Tourism Council, 2016, p.3

Moldova has experienced a period of turmoil and instability since the disclosure of the
massive banking scandal (Pilkington, 2015), which has raised fear for tourists of being
stranded. Credit card payments to Moldovan travel agencies might also have raised suspicion.
In the footsteps of Drachmae connect, tourism 2.0 could be promoted in Moldova by using
blockchain-based loyalty programs based on loyalty cryptographic tokens (Asatryan, 2016),
near zero % fee booking systems, and a blockchain-based voting system, in order to vote for
the best restaurant and hotel, by using the Nxt Blockchain technology, the core protocol at the
heart of Drachmae Project (Lombardo, 2015), ensuring that votes are immutable, public, and
transparent (ibid.).

Moldovan tourism destinations undoubtedly have a lot of potential (Pilkington, 2016c). The
introduction of blockchain-based smart contracts could help assess future revenues derived
from tourism growth. After Greece2, tokenization could also be used in Moldova for tipping
workers in the tourism sector. This innovation amounts to endogenous blockchain-driven
growth of the tourism sector by using an open source platform called NXT.

The Nxt core code is written in Java, drawing on Blockchain technology based on the proof-
of-stake paradigm, rather than proof-of-work (Pilkington, 2016a). Nxt is a second generation
cryptocurrency with a block-generation time of one minute (against ten for Bitcoin) that
draws on the Curve 22519 algorithm, and platform (Whitepaper:Nxt, 2016). Nxt is a token-
based blockchain (Pilkington, 2016a) wherein account holders identify themselves with near
full certainty with the help of encryption techniques (Whitepaper:Nxt, 2016). Nxt
incorporates a modular system with additional features on top of the first generation
cryprocurrency features of Bitcoin.

In 2015, through the Drachmae Project use cases, a stumbling block of decentralization was
found in the key area of jurisdictional control. In order to comply with local regulations,
organizations must protect their users against digital identity theft with a central locus of
control. The lack of adequate controls in existing blockchains, which are exclusively
decentralized, has thus cast doubt on the applicability of the technology. By leveraging
functions and core elements of the blockchain space (Ethereum-based smart contracts, Nxt
token authentification etc), the use cases of Drachmae project allow decentralization to cross
over permissionless and permissioned ledgers, thereby enhancing regulatory compliance,
protection against digital theft and regulatory control. Drawing on Nxt technology, Ardor
(2016) constitutes the latest blockchain-as-a-service platform with unlimited scalability, safe
smart contracts, and customizable child chains. Ardor maintains core blockchain functions,
while using child chains or side chains to achieve specific features, thereby enabling DT
Chain to apply comprehensive, centralized jurisdictional control, while retaining the highly
decentralized aspects of the blockchain. Importantly, the innovative capabilities offered by the
NXT blockchain platform as a technology do not require a digital currency.

2
As argued by Kelly (2015), one solution to the Greek fiscal crisis is the tokenization of Greeces state-owned
assets, such as islands and monuments (worth hundreds of millions of dollars according to IMF estimates)
through the creation of a government asset-backed digital currency that would be injected in the monetary circuit
(Pilkington, 2009) through the payment of the wage bill of government workers initially, who could reinvest into
local and rural development projects.
Table 6 capabilities of the Nxt Blockchain-based for the 2.0 platform in Moldova

Asset Exchange. Issue and trading of Nxt-based tokens (digital assets), a crypto-
security issue, which has been been used for crowdfunding, a reputation system, and
as a form of shares issue in businesses, both new and established. These Nxt-based to-
kens could be used as a medium of exchange in the Moldovan Tourism 2.0 sector.

Monetary System. Subsidiary currencies could be created on the Nxt blockchain, for
the purpose of circulation within the 2.0 tourism industry in neighboring and similar
countries (Romania, Belarus, Ukraine), utilising either PoS or PoW, with all parame-
ters under the control of the currency issuer.

Voting System. A fully customisable blockchain-based voting solution, the VS allows


polls to be created and voted upon in a secure and non-manipulatable environment.
This could be used to establish an immutable ranking of the best hotels, restaurants,
agropensions in the Republic of Moldova, thereby boosting competition, enhancing ef-
ficiency and promoting tourism destinations.

The blockchain ecosystem is a nascent one, and it is thus crucial to neutralize malware by
securing the blockchain infrastructure, which is a sine qua none for future growth. This is all
the more fundamental, as malware have the potential to steal crypto-tokens (CCN.LA, 2016).
Further, blockchain technology provides novel mechanisms to seal corruption loopholes, and
track illegal activity (ibid.). Drachmae project builds upon the NXT monetary system, from
which a token was derived, and the Drachmae money payment gateway (Galt, 2015).
Drachmae money is also a multi-currency wallet featuring SMS and NFC interfaces3.

Our proposed Moldova Connect project resembles Drachmae, which is a business-to-


business and business to consumer social platform that will not only allow merchants to
exchange services, but also enable tourists to book vacations at a discount using their mobile
phone. (McLeod cited by Galt, 2015). Moldova Connect is expected to grow into a
decentralized equity and crowdfunding platform (ibid.) similar to the WIR banking system
(Migchels, 2013). Mirroring Drachmae, by creating social engagement via social media,
Moldova Connect will compensate users in points, used to pledge to various crowdfunding
projects, in order to support local businesses, thereby bringing the sense of community to
unprecedented levels (Drachmae, 2016).

3
Near field communication, abbreviated NFC, is a form of contactless communication between devices like
smartphones or tablets. Contactless communication allows a user to wave the smartphone over a NFC
compatible device to send information without needing to touch the devices together or go through multiple
steps setting up a connection. http://nearfieldcommunication.org/
As discount tokens, DT Tokens are attractive for tourists that choose to use the platform. Up
to 90% discounts can be realized in some cases (Cuthbertson, 2015). Grant (2016) explains
that Drachmae already functions with a permisioned blockchain called DT Chain (Drachmae,
2016), akin to a private blockchain with known validators (Pilkington, 2016a) that eliminates
some of the drawbacks of public blockchains, such as blocksize limit, and slow transaction
speed (Grant, 2016). Importantly enough, the DTchain:
relies on the definition of trust roles enforced by cryptographically verifiable identities, secured in
hardware modules. All nodes servers upon which the blockchain runs are therefore permissioned and
immune to network manipulation. Performance is exceptional and the platform scales in a near linear
fashion as nodes are added (Grant, 2016).
As Grant (2016) reminds us, permissioned blockchains constitute the next phase in
blockchain innovation. DT Token is the native currency of the Drachmae Project, and serves
to boost the ecosystem by functioning in multiple usages such as loyalty tokens, asset,
currency, and by offering the following services: booking flights and hotels, miscellaneous
prizes etc (Drachmae Travel Club, 2016), and above all, the blockchain-based travel money
service, connected to a branded prepaid card (Drachmae, 2016). The Drachmae project
proposes a limited, tokenized, or smart transaction-based membership scheme with a travel
portal called Drachmae Travel Club (NewsBTC, 2016) supporting multiple currencies.
Memberships as digital tokens (in limited supply) are commoditized. The value proposition is
determined by the discount on the monthly subscription payable in DT Token. This creates
demand for the main cryptocurrency, and gives subscribers enhanced benefits such as tradable
memberships and monthly giveaways such as iPhones, wine vouchers, etc, thereby enhancing
the blockchain-based travel ecosystem. The value of the tokenized memberships is
determined on the secondary market. A similar scheme could be developed in the future with
Mdcoins, the native currency of the Moldova Connect blockchain-based travel portal.

Blockchain-based portals make extensive use of mobile networks, and mobile SIM cards, to
store user private keys, thereby disrupting the mobile communication sector characterized by
high roaming fees (EIN News, 2016). This methodology is already used in Africa, Asia and
Latin America by M-Pesa (Ernst & Young, 2009).

Telecoms networks could therefore act as KYC databases, wherein personal data and identity
protection platforms sit on the top of a blockchain ledger that stores, protects and verifies user
identity through public/private key encryption with multiple keys, face recognition, finger
print biometrics etc. Mobile networks and blockchain-based mobile applications could hence
morph into the backbone of a universal digital identity system.
As Andresen (2012, p.111) argues, mobile networks and parallel currencies can complement
each other. The transformative power of mobile money should therefore not be occulted.

IV) Blockchain for improved e-governance


1) E-governance in Moldova
Rapid technological change makes the world more prosperous and inclusive. ICTs are tools
and mechanisms to stimulate sustainable growth, improve service delivery, and promote good
governance and social accountability. The usage of ICTs in the government process refers to
two notions that are sometimes equated, but must nonetheless be distinguished. On the one
hand, according to the World Bank (2015):
E-Government refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide
Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with
citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.

Therefore, E-government has been considered as the use of ICTs for improving the efficiency of
government agencies, and providing government services online. Later, the framework of e-
government has broadened to include use of ICTs by the government for conducting a wide range
of interactions with citizens and businesses as well as open government data, and the use of ICTs
to enable innovation in governance. On the other hand, according UNDP (2016):
E-Governance involves a public investment in information and communication technologies (ICTs) to
strengthen governance processes. Access to and use of ICTs can provide new and innovative
communication channels that empower people and give voice to those who previously had none, while
allowing them to interact via networks and networking.

As a result, E-Governance is a broader term than E-Government since the first notion is
applicable to the governance of corporations or governance of major non-profit organization,
but the latter is strictly about government.

The Government of the Republic of Moldova has also recognized the need to use ICT as a
crosscutting enabler of sustainable growth, competitiveness and improved governance.
Moldova is ranked 66th out of 193 countries in the UN E-Government Development Index
(EGDI), which stands for high EGDI and one of the top 50 performers on e-participation
(UN, 2014). Moreover, Moldova has emerged in the past few years as one of the top 10
countries in Europe with the highest Internet speed and one of the cheapest in terms of price
per megabit (Mocan, 2015). In 2015-2016, Moldova was ranked 66th (out of 167 countries) in
the ICT Development Index (UIT, 2015) and 71st (out 143) in the Network Readiness Index
(WEF, 2016). All these performances have contributed to the ICT infrastructure deployment
for its citizens to better communicate, engage, and interact with the government through
digital channels. According to National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications
and Information Technology of the Republic of Moldova almost 68%, of the population has
Internet access (ANRCETI, 2015), and the number of Internet users is increasing year by year
(mostly those using mobile Internet). Over 70% of the respondents have declared their
willingness to use online public services rendered in the online regime, via computer and over
58% via mobile phones (CBS-AXA, 2015).

Recent policy developments (e-Moldova 2020, EU Digital Agenda 2020, EU e-Government


Action Plan etc.) prove the increased interest of the Moldovas government in fostering the
ICT development and ICT use in the government process. Therefore, in August 2010 in
Moldova, in order to support the countrys e-transformation agenda, the E-Government
Center (EGC) was established. The experience of Estonia, Finland Austria and Belgium has
served as best practice examples for EGC Moldova, which is responsible for the development
and implementation of the e-Government agenda, in view of ensuring the countrys
sustainable development. The main objective of the EGC is to support the reformation of the
public sector, enhance the efficiency of authorities, increase the transparency of state
institutions, ease the access to information, and promote e-Services, making all public
services available by 2020 through a single government platform. E-Services translate into
transparent decisions, straightforward communication, fighting corruption, increasing the
quality of public services, and increasing competitiveness. E-government as a platform of
public services delivery in Moldova is organized in four channels: E-Government for citizens,
E-Government for business, E-Government for Government and E-government for
international. In 2012, a unique platform for public services (www.servicii.gov.md) provided
by the authorities was launched. The platform functions as an electronic catalogue for public
services provided by the authorities dedicated to citizens and the business environment. The
main purpose is to offer brief, correct, accessible and complete information on the public
services available in the Republic of Moldova. Table 7 describes almost all types of services
provided electronically by the Moldovan Government (as of August 2016).
In order to determine and monitor the level of understanding and support for the e-
Transformation of Governance reform by the citizens, their awareness of the advantages /
benefits and opening to uptake and assimilate the e-Governance products, EGC Moldova
orders each year a new study in this regard. In 2015, this study was carried by the Centre for
Sociological Investigations and Marketing "CBS-AXA". According to CBC-AXA (2015):
The share of population which over the 2015 year has visited the Government's website (www.gov.md) at
least once constitutes 16%. Around 27% of them have accessed the above page 10 times or more, the
share was of 20% in 2014 and 16% in 2013. From the total number of respondents that have accessed
Internet in the past 12 months, 8% declared that they accessed Internet for requesting online services. []
It is observed a significant growth of accessing services via mobile phone, with 13,8% in 2015 compared
to just 2,5% in 2013.[] The share of the respondents satisfied with the quality of electronic public
services counted for 64.4%.

However, e-governance in Moldova faces several challenges:


- Culture, institutional legacies, vested interests and risk aversion have a tendency to
resist everything that is new. Governance e-Transformation has required political and
administrative leadership, and a strong delivery team at the top to transform the way
government is organised and how it functions.
- The challenge now lies with the public administration to ensure that sectorial
ministries are re-using the e-service infrastructure to speed-up digitisation. Any
transformation effort faces resistance and requires innovative capacities in the systems
subject to change.
- One of the difficulties in launching open government data initiatives may lie in low
public interest. Moldovan citizens are not demanding disclosure of government data,
in contrast with most other countries where government data was released under
strong public pressure (UN, 2014).

Clearly, no transformation can succeed unless it is built upon strong political leadership and
commitment, engagement and partnerships with citizens and business, both inside and outside
the system, ready and eager to support the change process.

Table 7 E-services provided by the Moldovan Government

n. Type of service Description


E-Government for Citizen
1 e-Traffic Allows users to receive notices on the breaches committed in the traffic. The
application may be downloaded and used freely.
2 e-Civil Status allow requesting online duplicates of civil status certificates, civil status extracts and
Services changes or rectifications to civil status documents. The e-Civil Status services can be
(servicii.gov.md) accessed on the government portal servicii.gov.md using the Mobile Digital
Signature and can be paid through governments electronic payments service MPay.
These tools make the e-civil status services also available to people who are abroad.
Using these tools is completely safe for the users.
3 Mobile Allows accessing electronic services with a mobile phone. Mobile signature works
Signature as an ID in the virtual world, which allows users to authenticate themselves in the
cyberspace in order to prove the identity with the cellphone. According to Decision
No. 264 from July 15th 2004 regarding electronic documents and digital signature,
electronic documents are equivalent to documents signed by hand. Citizens can
easily obtain the mobile signature from mobile operators.
4 Normative e- Launched in 2013, this service simplifies the access to construction documents for
Documents in citizens, public officers, industry experts or economic agents. The Normative e-
Construction Documents in Construction offers its users a number of benefits: database searching
(ednc.gov.md) is greatly simplified, free access to online discussions and public debates about
standards in construction, access to copyrighted documents in electronic or
traditional format.
5 Local A free public e-service, which offers many opportunities and benefits for three
Documents categories of users of the web portal: Local Government's Office, State Chancellery
Registry and the citizens. By accessing the website of the Municipality, anyone can view
(actelocale.md) normative acts adopted by the local government, learning their provisions and the
date they entry into force.
6 e-Record With this new service, citizens can submit applications for the record online,
(servicii.gov.md) anywhere and anytime, 24/7.
7 Open data The Government offers citizens and businesses access to public data sets. Citizens
platform (date. can easily consult data sets, require useful information, express their opinions and
gov.md) propose manners of improving the platform. This way, citizens voice can be easily
heard by the ministries and the dialogue between authorities and citizens is
particularly important for useful open data.
8 The special Aims to establish a unique electronic counter (one stop shop), exempting individuals
water use and legal entities from the complicated and time-consuming procedures as well as
authorization from the need to appear before the competent institutions. In order to submit online
(www.autorizati for the application for the special water use authorization is needed to be logged in
imediu.gov.md) through MPass and own an Electronic or Mobile Signature.
9 MPay A governmental service for electronic payments, is an informational tool by which
( mpay.gov.md) various services can be paid online. Although MPay is primarily targeting electronic
services in the public sector, it can be successfully used for commercial services.
MPay can enable payment services through multiple payment methods such as credit
cards, payment terminals, e-banking and cash payments. For cash payments, people
who do not have Internet access can contact the bank counters or post offices from
Moldova for internet connection.
4
E-Government for Business
Enterprise A joint platform, launched in 2014, for implementing the electronic services such as
1 Content online programming, registry and issuance of permits.
Management
Platform
2 State Register a common online platform allowing authorized control bodies to automotize the
of Inspections process of planning controls and registering planned and unplanned checks as well
as publish them on the public portal controale.gov.md.
3 e-Invoice A software solution designed for the economic agents from Moldova in terms of
(www.servicii.fi bills and invoices development and electronic circulation. The electronic invoice
sc.md) has the same legal value and is as safe as the traditional one, on paper. In addition,
the system provides data accuracy and reduces the risk of invoices' counterfeiting.
4 E-Procurement By means of modern technology, the procurement process will be conducted
electronically, on-line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
5 E-Reporting Allows economic agents the possibility to present online annual and quarterly
(raportare.md) reports
6 e-CNAM Allows replacing manual procedures with automatic ones in receiving and
processing report forms for medical insurances. The e-CNAM service is part of the
reporting Platform, integrated in the M-Cloud system and hosted by the Center for
Special Telecommunications.
7 e-Licensing Provides a full range of specialized functions to optimize submission and review of
license applications from the Licensing Chamber. Licenses can be requested
electronically, with no need for the economic agent to travel to Chisinau. The
authenticity of the information submitted by applicants or license holders will be
verified through the electronic networks of the public authorities concerned.

4
The special water use authorization is available for business too
8 Fast Electronic an automated method for filling in and submitting fiscal reports, by using latest Bi-
Statement dimensional (bar code) coding technology. This service offers tax-payers the
possibility to create fiscal reports, eliminating calculation errors while filling the
application. The service offers a tool to create, verify and print fiscal reports which
are in line with formats in use at the moment.
9 Electronic Fiscal A method of concluding and sending fiscal documents online (servicii.fisc.md).
Record
5
E-Government for Government
1 MConnect Facilitates the exchange of data between the authorities to increase the efficiency
and quality of delivery of public services
2 SIGEDIA The pilot-project Management System of Documents and Authorities Registrations
APC (SIGEDIA) is part of the Action Plan for the initiative implementation
Paperless Government (2011). The purpose is to identify and implement an
effective and efficient documents circulation system throughout the Government,
that would simplify and, in the same time, accelerate the decision making process.
3 M -Cloud Launched in 2013, the Claud technology allows many institutions use common
applications stored in a single data centre. The platform capitalizes on government
spending and consolidates data centres in a joint management form.
4 Register of Ensures the implementation of the protection of personal data law. According to the
personal data law, personal data controllers must notify the national authority for the protection of
operators personal data before starting the processing of personal data.
5 M-pass The national service which allows authentication and access to digital public
(mpass.gov.md) services. The service offers different authentication mechanisms: mobile signature,
digital certificate, user name and password.
6 particip.gov.md Through this platform citizens can be consulted on various draft laws
6
E-Government for International purposes
1 e-Visa The electronic service allowing applicants to request and receive visas for Moldova
on-line. This service is also available for citizens and business on
http://www.evisa.gov.md/.

Source: The authors based on http://www.egov.md/ and https://servicii.gov.md/

2) Why Blockchain technology can help

As stated by BitHub (cited in CCA, 2016) the Blockchain incubator of Space Kenya
Networks Limited, a Kenyan web development company, blockchain solutions will make
substantial contributions to rethinking existing structures in the [...] political, social and
economic sectors. Drawing on a successful experiment conducted in Honduras with land
registries, Blockchain solutions could be implemented in many other, similar, government
ledgers and databases (Prosser, 2015). Thanks to its three distinct advantages, namely
distributed architecture, immutability and transparency, blockchain-based applications and
systems may help combat fraud and corruption in the Republic of Moldova, while at the same
time rendering more efficient her e-governance programs. Introducing a Bitcoin payment
network in the Republic of Moldova would amount to an associated ecosystem of

5
MPay and State Register of Inspections are available for Government too
6
servicii.gov.md platform functions as an electronic catalogue for public services also for all citizens from
abroad
blockchains, sidechains and altchains (DTCC, 2016), which would constitute a generational
disruptive force at the societal, economic and political levels. Although there now exists a
solid literature on private, hybrid, and token-free blockchains (Pilkington, 2016a), we
consider that there exists a symbiotic relationship between Bitcoin, and its underlying
technology, namely the blockchain, and we refuse to endorse the blockchain-without-Bitcoin
view (Young, 2016). The core issue with Moldovan political and administrative organizations
is their inherent inefficiency due to their top-down centralized coordination and hierarchical
structures based on coercion [lacking] flexibility and capacity to evolve, providing
inadequate responsiveness to challenges and to the growing societal demands (Atzori, 2015,
p.6). Of utmost importance in post-communist countries, we find small groups of super-
wealthy oligarchs [who have] captured the state and dominated its economic decisionmaking
(Havrylyshyn, 2007, p.1). With billionnaire Vladimir Plahotniuc exerting his pernicious
influence on the power structures of the country (Pilkington, 2016b), the debate on
democratic governance and centralized vertical authority as the main organizational model in
society (Atzori, 2015, p.6) becomes Quis custodiet ipsos custodies (who will watch the
watchmen?) (ibid., p.6). The objective is to depart from a governance configuration
characterized by a central locus of power defined in computer terms as single point of failure
(SPOF) that, if dysfunctional, negatively affects the whole system and its participants:
decentralization aims to reduce or prevent such concentration of power and it is a
fundamental condition for citizens to achieve political efficacy, equality, transparency, and
freedom (ibid., pp.6-7). In this sense, the blockchain has great potential insofar as it helps
bypass the need for the traditional gatekeepers of trust (Coletti, 2015): "corruption appears
when you have a monopoly, somebody with discretionality to decide and when you have
opacity," (Alejandro Sales, Transparency International cited in ibid.). With the advent of the
blockchain revolution,
for the first time in history, citizens can now reach consensus and coordination at global level through
cryptographically verified peer-to-peer procedures, without the intermediation of a third party []
Blockchain technology ushers in a new era of decentralization on large-scale, in which human factor is
minimized and trust shifts from the human agents of a central organization to an open source code
(Atzori, 2015, p.7).

For Moldovas former minister of education Maia Sandu (2016, our translation),
[c]lear criteria ought to be elaborated for candidates, as well as predictable procedures for the
competitive exam (written test, interview, integrity check...), and indicators of meritocratic assessment
of professional skills. All this will help avoid harmful practices when the final decision of the
committee is made by a mere vote of the members of the selection committee.
In this respect, in the Blockchain, the nodes of the network are not owned by anyone, thereby
conferring a truly decentralized nature to the governance system (Pilkington, 2016a, pp.232).
Neutrality, immutability and auditability ensure that frictions and failures inherent in
decision-making process of centralized organizations (lack of transparency, corruption,
coercion...) are eliminated. It is time for the Republic of Moldova to experiment with a range
of new decentralized governance models (Swan, 2015), offering new governance services in
an efficient and decentralized way without relying on coercion or force. Blockchain
technology indeed paves the way for a new approach to governance wherein empowered
individuals are the source of legitimacy for the horizontal and distributed diffusion of
authority. Citizens will start interacting by means of self-enforceable smart contracts wherein
the code is law (Lessig, 2000). The same goes for the collective relationship between the
population and the State that will be automated by a series of instant atomic interactions
(Buterin, 2014a):

Instead of a hierarchical structure managed by a set of humans interacting in person... via the legal
system, a decentralized organization involves a set of humans interacting with each other according to a
protocol specified in code, and enforced on the blockchain (ibid.).

Factom has developed a blockchain-based native time stamping system and a distributed
mechanism to lock in data, making it verifiable and independently auditable. Factom draws
on the immutability of the blockchain to secure ledger data with enormous amounts of
decentralized hashing power, so as to make data literally non-hackable. Governance-related
data is time-stamped and irrefutably proven. It hence becomes possible to audit who was in
possession of given information at a given moment in time, thereby providing an irrefutable
proof of existence (Prosser, 2015). Blockchain technology will evolve into a commonly
used protocol to secure both data and transactions throughout society, leading Moldovan
citizens to live in a more honest and transparent society. Beyond proof-of-existence,
blockchain solutions could progressively move toward the proof-of-integrity concept
(Pilkington, 2016b), in order to improve democratic governance.
V) The Role of the Diaspora

In 1991, Moldova became an independent and sovereign state. Her citizens enjoy freedom of
expression, to travel and explore the world. But a large number of Moldovans have left their
homeland in search for a happier destiny. This mass of people scattered throughout the world,
forms the "Moldovan Diaspora". Throughout history, many Moldovans were forced to enter
the diaspora, voluntarily for political, economic or social, spiritual or religious reasons. There
are no exact statistics reflecting the number of those who left an estimated 300,000 to
600,000 Moldovans live outside of the country with remittances representing more than 30
per cent of GDP, making it one of Europes most emigration affected countries (Rusu, 2012,
p.103). For Rusu (ibid., pp.103-4), the:

Diaspora population may consist of people living permanently in the country of origin or country of
destination, and migrants who work abroad temporary, people who hold double citizenship, ethnic
diaspora, citizens of the host country or second generation groups. In the contemporary context, with
the acceleration in international mobility, the term diaspora has been used more broadly to encompass
expatriate populations who are living outside of their home countries or contemporary diaspora linked
with issues of transnationalism and globalization.

Moldovan authorities first took the diaspora into account in 2000 with the issue of a
presidential decree (2000). Analytical attempts to tackle the subject were later made by
Margarint and Morozan (2006), and Cabacenco (2006) with the emphasis on respectively the
importance of labor migration and the role of internet in the development of transnational
migrant networks. Moldovans living abroad feel the need to create organizations designed to
close and unite the Moldovan diaspora, strengthen its economic and spiritual potential,
contribute to the effective integration of its members into society. Currently, the Moldovan
Diaspora is well implanted in 31 countries of the world: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic,
Romania, Russia, Spain, USA, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and Hungary. Public associations set
up by Moldovans abroad aim to better organize the Diaspora structurally to support a new
level integrating newcomers and those arriving earlier. This is part of their concerns to
strengthen relationships between community members, through mutual aid, by initiating
various activities, maintaining spiritual ties with the homeland. The Diaspora has great
importance, and forms an adequate representation of Moldovans in dealing with government
bodies and NGOs in countries of residence or in Moldova. Diaspora plays a major role in
promoting a positive image of Moldova abroad. Therefore, it becomes particularly urgent
effort to institutionalize the Moldovan Diaspora, which has significant potential to contribute
significantly for enhancing bilateral relations, to find ways to support their home country with
all the experience gained abroad. How can the blockchain benefit the reintegration of the
Diaspora in Moldovan affairs? We have alluded to improvements in democratic governance
allowed by e-government services already implemented by the government in the Republic of
Moldova. Furthermore, thanks to blockchain technology, governance services can acquire a
true transnational dimension, and become borderless (Atzori, 2015, pp.8-9), with the creation
of a global cloud (Swan, 2015, p.32) within an overall governance system (ibid., p.49).
Blockchain technology would improve the democratic participation of Diaspora members
through a model called Liquid Democracy (Swan, 2015; LiquidFeedback, 2016).

CONCLUSION

We are going through times of transformative significance marked by a shift within


capitalism. Since 2015, organizations throughout the public and private sectors have begun
exploring ways that blockchain might profoundly transform some of their most basic
operations (Piscini et al., 2016). The immutability of the blockchain could spur an
unprecedented breakthrough in the fight against corruption in developing countries, such as
the Republic of Moldova, where information is often opaque and subject to manipulation.
With blockchain technology, we have the ability to declare a truth, globally and without a
centre of authority, regardless of what anyone else does to change this truth (Derose, 2015).

We have also apprehended the transformative power of tourism 2.0 following the footsteps of
Drachmae Connect in Greece, through the real-world use case of Moldova Tours 2.0 and
Moldova Connect, and its untapped potential for poverty alleviation and growth opportunities.

The Blockchain now has the incredible and unforeseen power to lift a country out of poverty.
Let us now proceed forward with the implementation thereof.
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