Thailand can use blockchain technology for elections, with a hybrid model that combines e-voting in close groups and traditional voting, as Thais still need time to build up digital literacy. When 5G is eventually adopted, all voters will be connected, says the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center.
"Nectec developed blockchain technology for e-voting that can be applied to national, provincial or community elections, as well as business votes such as the board of directors," said Chalee Vorakulpipat, head of the cybersecurity laboratory at Nectec. "The goal is to reduce fraud and maintain data integrity."
Blockchain is a decentralised system in which data is kept on each user's node, which is hard to change. It is transparent and auditable, compared with a centralised system where hackers can attack the server and change data.
"That's why blockchain has been used to store valuable data and important documents, such as contracts and votes," Mr Chalee said.
Using blockchain in elections requires an election controller, voters and candidates, he said.
Before the election, an election controller can identify voter qualifications, while candidates can register in the system, through which the election controller can check their eligibility.
The voters need not know about the blockchain, as they can simply vote through an email and click to vote electronically, similar to online surveys carried out using Google Docs, and must be verified by a mobile camera.
After voting, results will be calculated faster as data is sent directly to the election controller and the candidates are able to check their own votes.
Blockchain eliminates the need to collect data from election points and deliver to a central location, saving huge labour costs and preventing fraud as data is transmitted directly from the voters to the election controller.
Instead of travelling to polling stations, voters only need internet access.
Mr Chalee said blockchain implementation will require time for the general election because every voter needs to have an affordable mobile internet connection and identity verification.
In the short term, blockchain can be applied in a close environment. Thais who stay abroad can go to the Thai embassy or consulate to vote and have their identity verified with the camera.
The system can be tested on a smaller scale at elections in universities, provinces and communities, including voting organisations such as committee boards.
Nectec is also interested in working with the Digital Government Agency, Mr Chalee said.
Nectec has already developed blockchain for voting and needs partners such as universities for access to test environments. It will also deploy blockchain at the National Science and Technology Development Agency.
Sathapon Patanakua, chief executive of SmartContract Thailand, a health tech startup, said the company developed Block MD, a health information exchange system powered by blockchain.
With blockchain, patient data can be secured and allows doctors, clinics, laboratories, hospitals, insurance firms and the state to access data more conveniently when transferring patients to other hospitals.
"We are in the process of making the proof of concept and carrying out testing at some hospitals and at public health insurance agencies," Mr Sathapon said.