Welcome to Last week in blockchain. My name is Wim Pelgrim, a blockchain enthusiast and with this weekly podcast you’ll stay up to speed about all the major developments on the blockchain. And that in under 10 minutes!
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This week I’ll be be discussing three technological platforms: Fujitsu, Samsung and SAP, the municipalities of Eindhoven and Utrecht, the central banks of South Africa and The Netherlands, education in Malta, the Blockchain Innovation Conference and the catholic church.
Looking at the technological developments, a lot of major tech companies are embedding blockchain technology in the platforms or ICT solutions they offer. A few weeks ago (podcast #15/Blocker.nl: 16 mei) I talked about the Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench, this week both Fujitu, Samsung and SAP announced a blockchain feature in their platforms. First Fujitsu; the company focusses on retail mechisms, such as digital points, stamps and coupons. Using blockchain technology, customers can use the retail assets for a limited time in specified areas. The press release talks about all the benefits this new service provides retailers. Token sales will start shortly.
The press release by Samsung was in Korean, and because my Korean isn’t as good as it used to be, I used an article in English instead. Samsung SDS, the IT arm of the big corporation, is starting Nexfinance, a digital finance platform. Proven technologies are combined with new technologies, such as the blockchain. Samsung is continuing its blockchain efforts, after the news of last April (podcast #12/Blocker.nl 24 april) about Samsung’s supply chain and the news article linked in the description mentions other blockchain activities by Samsung.
SAP is next in this news category. The company announced the SAP Leonardo Blockchain service will be generally available. The underlying blockchain technology is very flexible: you can use Hyperledger, Multichain or any other ledger. Reason is SAP doesn’t want to commit to any underlying ledger, until the market decides which way to go. A smart choice I think, it’s to early to say which of the ledger technologies out there will become the standard. Nobody wants to be the next Betamax (check Wikipedia if you don’t know that reference).
Then to some governments in The Netherlands: the municipalities of Utrecht and Eindhoven. They are testing an application to verify your ID using the blockchain. A test group can verify their ID and age at the town hall. They receive two certificates on the blockchain to prove their identity and prove they are over 18. With a face recognition scan they can generate a QR-code and show that at hotels, shops and other locations. Test results will be in at the end of 2018.
Two central banks made declarations about the blockchain last week. And the interesting thing is: they are almost opposite! South Africa was very positive, The Netherlands…well… not so much.
I spoke about the pilot by the South Africa Central Bank in podcast #3. This week the results were in: the bank claims a success! The press release reads: “The results show that the typical daily volume of the South African payments system could be processed in less than two hours with full confidentiality of transactions and settlement finality. […] The SARB was able to view the detail of all the transactions to allow for regulatory oversight.” The bank and the participants in the test note many issues before using a DLT-based system as a standard: legal, regulatory and economic factors have to be considered.
The Dutch Central Bank also ended a test, a three year test of four prototypes in this case. And their conclusion: the blockchain (or distributed ledger technologies) are note suited for the financial market infrastructure. It’s too inefficient, lacks capacity and uses to much energy. And those conclusions don’t surprise me. The technology isn’t mature enough yet and maybe it isn’t a copy of the old system as we know it. The internet wasn’t ready to replace the printed paper in 1993, but it is now. Maybe this test came to early. The bank keeps investigating developments in this field, but isn’t starting anymore pilots.
And after two banking applications, we’re going to Malta. Last year Malta started a pilot to put citizen’s records on blockchain, and they are finalizing the first trial. Alex Grech, university of Malta lecturer, hopes the project will be continued, he said last week. And that prior tot the completion of the test. If the test is a success, the project will be expanded to all 400.000 citizens of Malta and they will be able to store and share educational records and transcripts on blockchain, using Blockcerts, a standard developed at MIT. Blockcerts uses the Bitcoin blockchain, not the most logical choice in my eyes: I’d rather use a permissioned blockchain for this kind of information.
In Utrecht a large blockchain conference (Blockchain Innovation Conference) was held last Thursday. As announced (podcast #14/Blocker.nl 9 mei) the conference breathed an atmosphere of realism: blockchain is moving from the hype of the crypto landscape. The keynotes were by Wiebe Draijer of Rabobank, presenting the blockchain strategy of the bank and the first app, aimed at settling international trade transactions and especially their banks and by Jon Kuijper about the Koopmans logistics case I discussed in podcast #13 (Blocker.nl 2 mei).
And last but not least and most surprisingly the catholic church! The goals of the organization are not clear to me, but representing the catholic values in the blockchain community and benefitting the church by empowering the poor in the developing world, secure long-term storage of important information, such as for sacraments and unlocking value in the Church’s property and assets. For this type of blockchain ideas, I have a new category: OMG! I have no idea how this would help people.
And that wraps up this Last week in blockchain. Check my website: www.wimpelgrim.nl for more info on me and my podcast and a full transcript of this episode. Check the links to all the news items I talked about in the description: Fujitsu, Samsung, SAP, Eindhoven and Utrecht, the central banks of South Africa and The Netherlands, Malta, Blockchain Innovation Conference and the catholic church. And definitely check back next week for my new podcast on Soundcloud and in Dutch on Blocker.nl! And if you like what you’ve heard, share this podcast with your friends and on social media.
Blockchain Innovation Conference
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