Last week in blockchain – 2018, week 51

Welcome to Last week in blockchain. My name is WimPelgrim, a blockchain realist and with this weekly podcast you’ll stay up tospeed about all the major developments on the blockchain. And if you like whatyou’ve heard: share this podcast or leave a review on iTunes. And if you listento this podcast for the first time: subscribe using your podcast app.

This week the Constantiople Hard Fork in the Ethereum Network, patents by Mastercard and AT&T, TRAI India’s steps towards blockchain, UNICEF funding 6 startups, Hangzou Internet Court accepts blockchain as evidence, Antwerp develops a self-sovereign identity for citizens and Oh my god moments from Paypal and about removing plastic from the oceans using blockchain and AI.


This is my last podcast for 2018. And I don’t want to do a lot of “looking back and looking forward” kind of thing. But in February I started on a spur of the moment my podcast “Last week in blockchain”. And I’ve had great fun these last 41 podcasts: reading a lot and sharing it with you. With a lot of listeners from Belgium this week and in the United States in all those weeks past. Thank you for listening. And thank you for the tips I received trough the XRPtipbot and TRONtipbot on Twitter! I’ve learned a lot and I hope you did too. Now: let’s get started.


I’m starting this podcast with news about something that is going to happen. When Ethereum reaches block 7.080.000 (probably in Januari) an upgrade of the software will take place: the Constantinople Hard Fork. The most important changes: going from Proof-of-work to Proof-of-Stake and scalable smart contracts (according to the meeting notes, found on Github). And an upgrade of a blockchain network is a potential risk: if not every node in the network implements the upgrade, a blockchain is split in two. Ethereum Classic emerged after the last upgrade. If the network will accept this upgrade, we will see in 2019.

And two companies filed a patent for their blockchain developments: Mastercard and AT&T. I talked about patents before (podcasts #5, #13, #32 and #36) and I also talked about the weird thing it is that people working on a consensus networking software want patents, but that is a discussion for a deep dive. But what are these patents for? Mastercard has an interesting patent for a method of anonymizing transactions on a blockchain. How does Mastercard want to do this?  By “the use of one or more intermediary addresses to obscure the source and destination of funds in a blockchain transaction”. It makes the now pseudonymous blockchain more anonymous, but not fully. But that a company like Mastercard is working on such a technology, is a good thing, because most big companies like to keep their eyes on the data they own.

And AT&T also applied for a patent, but for a piece of technology that I don’t think is very useful. The patent describes a blockchain-based social media history “map”. It is a system that may include a transaction history controller to store subscribers’ data, which may be used for various purposes. But why blockchain? Why this social network? What would I want to use it for? I would almost say “Oh my god” but a patent is a little bit to serious to talk about it in those terms.

Background articles


Then to India for a company working on blockchain: the India Times writes about the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that is working with all the major telecom providers and IBM on blockchain solutions. Sriram Raghavan of IBM said: “We have completed proof of concepts and pilots with all the major telecom providers and with TRAI in this space”. But to what end? First blockchain could help the telecom providers with the portability of mobile numbers. And second of all, it could help those companies with ‘Do Not Call’ registries. If consent and respecting that consent is recorded on blockchain, TRAI can spot malfeasance quickly. And this use case is the first move the companies will take in 2019.

And six starting companies will get funding from UNICEF, part of the United Nations. Out of a 100 applications, the 6 were selected. They work on solutions for several global issues. And besides the money, the companies get access to the network of the United Nations. And it proofs the UN is very interested in blockchain technology, because I talked about the Sustainable Development Goals before (podcast #34) and this funding is part of a $17.9 million venture fund that has invested in 33 startups from 23 countries so far. And how global the United Nations works is visible in the list of countries the 6 come from: Argentina, Mexico, India, Tunisia and Bangladesh. And what kind of projects do they fund? The projects work on traceability of funding, patient records, vaccinations and an offline mobile networking platform.

Governments and law

Two government bodies taking blockchain to the next step are the Internet court of Hangzhou and the city of Antwerpen in Belgium. When you have a copyright issue and go to court, providing evidence is difficult and expensive. But the Hangzhou Internet court will accept digital footprints stored in the judicial blockchain system as evidence. That makes it easier to prove copyright and fight against piracy. And the city of Antwerpen goes even further when it comes to giving people legal power. With a roadmap for 2019 and 2020, the city wants a self-sovereign identity for its citizens. People can change their living address through the app in 2019 and after further integration of the architecture in all systems, it will be open for partners and other government bodies in 2020.

New applications


Oh my god!

It has been a while but I have two news items this week with blockchain bullshit. First PayPal. The company launched a tokenized employee incentive system. But when you want to build an incentive system for internal use, why use blockchain? Blockchain is a networking tool, a technique to cooperate. Maybe PayPal is testing this type of software for future use outside the company, but for now: oh my god!

But the worst oh my god moment I had was when I read the headline “Cleaning the oceans using blockchain + AI”. I thought we needed nets and ships to do that? Or new regulations to ban disposable plastics? But when I read the article, I saw it wasn’t about plastic, it was in fact about data about plastic in the oceans. And I saw it was very vague what the data stored on blockchain made accessible to AI was going to do about plastic in the oceans: “this [data] will be used to foster the development of innovative AI solutions that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”. Oh my god, how much marketing lingo can you put in one press release.



And to read more during the holidays, check out these articles: Facebook hires more blockchain developers and blockchain incubater Binance Labs releases first batch of blockchain projects.

And that wraps up this Last week in blockchain. Check my website: for more info on me and my podcast and a full transcript of this episode. Check the links mentioned in this episode in the description: Constantinople Hard Fork, patents by Mastercard and AT&T, TRAI India, UNICEF, Hangzou Internet Court, Antwerp and the Oh my god moments at Paypal and Plastic in the oceans. Thank you for listening in 2018, I’m going to take a two week break, so I hope to see you all back in the second week of 2019. And if you like what you’ve heard, share this podcast with your friends and on social media and subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app. See you next year!


Constantinople Hard Fork



TRAI, India





Plastic in the oceans




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