Last week in blockchain – 2019, week 13

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 please leave a review on iTunes so my podcast will get higher in the search results, share it with your friends and if you listen to this podcast for the first time: subscribe using your podcast app.

This week the Odyssey Hackathon, the world’s biggest blockchain hackathon, a lot of patents for blockchain in Europe with 40% coming from Chine, IBM presents World Wire and 4000 art houses are using blockchain by Artory.



In podcast #10 I talked about the BlockChaingers hackathon 2018, the biggest blockchain hackathon worldwide. This year, the hackathon is back, named Odyssey. Over 1500 attendees solve 20 real societal challenges in 11 tracks and build 100 prototypes in 4 days. Team registrations are closed at the moment, you can apply for the waiting list. And I’m very curious to see what comes out of these tracks, for example on fossil free future, digital citizenship, retirement and digital nation’s infrastructure. The Hackathon offers not only the tracks but also a lot of other events, such as a technical deep dive and (I think this is very important) an ethical deep dive. You can follow the hackathon through the social media outlets of DutchChain (the organization responsible for the hackathon), working on commonization of the Digital Infrastructure by building the future.

Background articles and research

The Dutch financial newspaper Financieel Dagblad wrote a piece on the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO saw a spectacular rise in patent applications in the last two years, despite the biggest blockchain hype being over. Not all patents are granted yet, that takes about 3 to 4 years, but some trends are visible. Most applications come from payment and banking (728), cryptography (447) and network security (319). And the top companies asking for patents are IBM (111), Alibaba (88) and Coinplug (also 88). And looking at the last 10 years, 40% of all applications came from China. Interestingly, this development shows blockchain may be over the hype and it might be popular two write negatively about blockchain, but the real developments are all around us.

The article talks about several examples from The Netherlands, but the new blockchain by the Dutch pension funds is an interesting one. The shift of clients from one fund to another will be handled by blockchain in a few months. And that saves a lot of letters and tenders. The 150.000 people that switch each year could save up to 10 euros each: 1,5 million for the sector each year! And that is real change happening in difficult and competitive sectors such as this one. And according to the numbers by the European Patent Office, more change is coming!

Companies en applications

IBM launched a big blockchain product this week: IBM Blockchain World Wire is a solution aimed at the banking industry. It promises faster money transfer, lower costs, increased efficiency, integrates with any system, secure and robust network. In short: a great product. But although I’m not paid in any way by IBM, I really think this is an interesting product. What it does is converting a physical currency into a digital one on the Stellar blockchain. Transferring it transparently and converting it to another currency in the receiving country. And with almost 90% of global creditcard transactions are processed on IBM Mainframes, and 97% of the world’s largest banks as clients, IBM has a large base in this field. World Wire could work for 72 countries, 47 currencies, 44 banking endpoints an more than 1081 unique currency trading pairs. But besides a strong proposition for IBM, this is also quite a strange way of using blockchain. IBM is creating a new middle man in stead of getting rid of them. So for purists in the field, this is misuse of the technology. What do you think? Please let me know on your socials.

Artory is a blockchain-backed digital art registry, started by Tefaf chair Nanne Dekking. Last week the startup acquired Auction Club, a subscription-only database that hosts sales information from 4000 international auction houses. The companies will merge and data of Auction Club will be added to the blockchain by Artory as of May. What data? Dr. Clare McAndrew (Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report) tells in the article it covers the full range of princes and sales, which is important both for macro-research but also particularly for micro-level searches. But this news raises an important question, also asked by the writer of The Art Newspaper: how can the aggregation of mass amounts of data under one company umbrella and blockchain go hand in hand? “The decentralization of blockchain is a security benefit, not a solution. And for the art world, being able to leverage blockchain to provide access to credible data that are free is a huge benefit” answers Paul Stabe, chief product officer of Artory. But that is not an answer to the question. So how Artory is going to handle this problem is still unclear.

Governments and law


Oh my god!

And if you want to attend another great event, check out the Hard Fork conference of The Next Web (TNW). Also check these articles about Asian developments: Kudelski security partners with Hosho to secure blockchain ecosystems and South Korean Health Centre is going to use blockchain to create a smart hospital.

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: the Odyssey Hackathon, the world’s biggest blockchain hackathon, a lot of patents for blockchain in Europe, IBM presents World Wire and 4000 art houses are using blockchain as of now. 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 week!


Odyssey Hackathon



Art houses


The Next Web Hard Fork conference

Secure blockchain ecosystems

Smart hospital

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