Welcome to Last week in blockchain. My name is Wim Pelgrim, a blockchain realist and with this weekly podcast you’ll stay up to speed about all the major developments on the blockchain. And if you like what you’ve heard: share this podcast, like it in your podcast app or support me by going to www.patreon.com/wimpelgrim
This week my visit to the SIDN Fund in May, sidechains, Carrefours vision and blockchain incorporation, China’s court rules, Arriva’s blockchain bus and blockchain enabled (or not) offices by Primalbase.
In May I visited a group session of the blockchain call by the SIDN Fund. The fund stimulates projects that use internet for good. The main question was: Blockchain, hype or revolution? Last week I received the report written by the Fund for the participants. I can’t share the report, but I can talk about it. And a lot of the remarks we made are seen throughout the blockchain realm worldwide at this moment: `
- We had a hype in 2017
- The technology has benefits and drawbacks
- Supplychains are a great place to use blockchains, but implementing them is
- A lot of projects dropped blockchain, but it started a conversation about the way organizations were working
- Problems with legislation, such as GDPR
And one of the main conclusions we talked about for some time: the ethics of technology. Technology isn’t inherently good, every project has to take morality into account. And that’s a question I have when I see projects in which companies want to use technology to govern applications and content, such as Facebook using algorithms to find offensive content. It filters out ancient statues with bare nipples: that’s not what we want.
Because blockchains are growing and growing to fast, sidechains are coming up. Both Bitcoin, Ethereum and Loom for example are developing sidechains. What is a sidechain? A separate blockchain that is attached to its parent blockchain using a two-way peg. This peg creates a way of moving assets from the parent to the sidechain (which is usually faster) and back to the parent. The lightning network of Bitcoin is an example if you want to Google something.
The sidechains have some concerns: security, potential for soft forks and the risk of mining centralization. Because the sidechains must have mining power too to remain secure, and they lack that power. And when it comes to energy use to keep everything running, we need more and more PoW power and the growth of complexity in consensus finding, it creates a barrier for smaller miners to join.
Although interesting to read about, I don’t think this is a real solution. It’s a fix for a problem that wouldn’t exist if we would put everything in big permissionless blockchains with a PoW consensus algorithm. I believe smaller blockchain solutions or distributed ledgers work better.
I’d like to come back to a topic I mentioned a few months ago (podcast #6). I talked about Belgian supermarket company Carrefour and how they are going to use blockchain to make the supply chain of dozens of products transparent. Last week they presented their Act for Food. The blockchain technology is part of their broader vision on their role as a supermarket company. And that’s a major step in the DLT development: it isn’t a gimmick, it isn’t a way to make a lot of fast money, it is part of a transition, part of a companies strategy for the future. And that doesn’t seem very important: a dozen chickens with a QR-code, but the transition in the development of blockchain is huge! If you have a similar example, please let me know!
Governments and law
If you have information stored on blockchain, is it evidence in the eyes of a judge? Or jury? In China it is. Roughly translated, the Supreme People’s Court issued the following: “The electronic data submitted by the parties can prove their authenticity through electronic signature, trusted time stamp, hash value check, blockchain, and other evidence collection, fixed and tamper-proof technical means or through electronic forensic evidence platform certification.” This new ruling by the Supreme Court agrees with the precedence set by Hangzhou Internet Court earlier in the year, this specialized internet court ruled DLT could be used to determine authenticity of digital information. When will other countries follow?
And then to the city of Gouda, in my own country The Netherlands. The first bus using blockchain will start driving Gouda to Schoonhoven on October 1st. Using a new token passengers use their smartphone to scan a QR-code and pay for their trip. The transport company Arriva isn’t seeking a new payment system per se, but wants to gather information on the use of blockchain for Mobility as a Service. Specially for the mix of transport by existing bus and train companies and the flexible last and first part of transport (sharing bike or Uber). And because the technology uses QR codes in stead of NFC chips (the current public transport card in The Netherlands is based on NFC entirely) it is also applicable in developing countries. It’s a fancy press release with a “blockchain bus”, but the development is real.
Oh my god!
Sometimes I have to find out for myself why a press release is an Oh my god! Moment, but sometimes the work has been done for me. The Financial Times wrote an Oh my god! Piece about Primalbase. The ICO promised blockchain enabled working spaces. And the news outlet was wondering what that would look like. Conclusion: it almost looks like a normal office space, paid for in bitcoins and a lot more expensive then a normal shared office space, just to be near token holder… Maybe it’s a great way to make money in the short run, but is this a real solution for a real problem? No!
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: SIDN Fund, Sidechains, Carrefour, China’s court and blockchain enables offices (or not). And I hope to see you next week for my next episode. And if you like what you’ve heard, share this podcast with your friends and on social media and click those five stars in your podcast app.
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