Head of Unit for Startups and Innovation in the Digital Single Market Directorate, European Commission, DG CONNECT,
Global Head of Innovation, Banco Santander,
Associate Professor, Delft University of Technology (Computer Science). Founder of Tribler,
Energy Policy and Innovation Advisor, EURELECTRIC,
VIDEO & AUDIO RECORDINGS
In his kick-off presentation, Julio Faura, Global Head of Innovation at Banco Santander, claimed that blockchain technology will have the same to value as the internet had been to communication. He highlighted the principal advantages of decentralized ledger systems, such as blockchain, over traditional centralized ledger systems currently used by banks. While the latter have to be heavily secured, are costly, and do not allow innovation easily, the former is more resistant and resilient to attacks, cheaper to maintain, simpler in managing, more scalable and could be used for innovation. In addition, transactions can be done in real-time and without a verification system based on trust.
More recent innovations, such as smart contracts, would allow the execution of contracts within the blockchain system that are transparent to all parties. On step further, banks could issue their own token-based blockchain currencies backed with real currencies. Customers could use these token networks for real-world transactions and banks could use these networks for innovation without having to risk the security of the highly protected core databases.
Alastria, a Spanish blockchain, was developed by major Spanish companies and is between a fully decentralized network, such as Bitcoin, and a fully centralized solution. Alastria is a permissioned blockchain in which a subset of nodes, called validators, validate new members of the network as well as the transactions of the other participants. With this solution, Alastria is legally compliant and offers a counterpart in case of problems.
Johan Pouwelse, Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology and Founder of Tribler, shared his prospect on the blockchain technology. Blockchain technology has the ability to create decentralized systems in which trust will be crucial to stay in the ecosystem. By this, systems without middle men could be created and large efficiency gains could be materialized. Currently dominant intermediary platforms, such as in the taxi and hotel market, could be replaced by technical solutions in which all the money stays in the hands of the citizens.
Pēteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit for Startups and Innovation in the Digital Single Market Directorate at European Commission (DG CONNECT), highlighted the initiatives by the European Commission such as the FinTech action plan, the mid-term review of the digital single market that aim to foster blockchain technologies. He claimed that Europe could become a world-leader in blockchain technologies and the European Commission tries to support this development by programmes such as recently launched EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. Zilgalvis stressed the need for harmonization so that different national blockchain might be compatible in the future. One solution could be a “chain of chains”. Finally, he pointed out that the next long-term budget (multiannual financial framework) of the European Union will set new priorities in the field of blockchain technologies.
Anna Dimitrova, Energy Policy and Innovation Advisor at EURELECTRIC, gave some insights of the importance of the blockchain technology for the energy sector. She highlighted transparency, time stamping, and decentralization as main advantages of blockchains for the sector, and over-transparency, speed, scale, and costs as main (current) disadvantages. She presented a few pilot projects in which blockchain technologies are implemented in the energy sector and in which their possible advantages over other software solutions are tested.