Beyond the hype: five lessons about blockchain technology

22 December 2021
Future scenarios and real use cases in industry and logistics

Blockchain technology is crucial and around 60 per cent of companies in Germany believe it’s potential is severely underestimated, a survey by Bitkom e. V. has found. More than 2,000 delegates including experts and investors at the Blockchance Europe in early December agree. Germany's largest event on blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) had transformed the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce into a blockchain hotspot. Many of the 120 speakers outlined exciting future scenarios, concrete applications and lessons learnt.

El Salvador planning sustainable bitcoin city

Bitcoin remains the best-known use case of blockchain technology and made headlines this autumn when El Salvador introduced the cryptocurrency as legal tender. Only about 30 per cent of Salvadorans had access to a bank account in September. But that share had soared to 80 per cent by December and account holders now access their account using a digital wallet (Chivo), William Eulises Soriano Herrera, an MP and spokesman for El Salvador, said at Blockchance. This would enable "banking the unbanked" and ultimately financial inclusion. Remittances from the many Salvadorans living in the U.S., for instance, would become much cheaper. El Salvador now aims to build a sustainable "bitcoin city" at the foot of a volcano, Herrera added. The energy for the city's electricity supply and Bitcoin mining is to come from a geothermal power plant that harnesses the heat of the volcano. Initial construction work has already begun.

El Salvador to launch a bitcoin city

Blockchain beyond the hype – five lessons

A keynote speech by Michael Schramm, who has headed the EY Blockchain Competence Center in the Germany-speaking region for around four years, focused on concrete use cases of blockchain technology in industry and logistics. The following are the five most important lessons.

1. Coins are cool, but the tax advisor sees it differently
Take one step at a time. Watch out when projects involve tokenised or digital assets. Pay attention to the legal framework. Project: Token-based bonus scheme for more employee loyalty among professional lorry drivers and lower costs.

2. It's about blockchain AND digitalisation 
Be aware that you are changing processes. Focus on getting it right. The technology will follow. Project: Digitisation and notarisation of freight documents with Etheureum technology.

3. Transparency as goal
Companies do not want total transparency. Choose a smart way of finding selective transparency
Project: Transparent supply chain for a wine producer (cultivation, production, packaging, distribution)

4. Blockchain vs. DSGVO - a contradiction?
The blockchain may yet  replace notaries. But would that be DSGVO-compliant? Personal data should not be stored on the blockchain. 
Project: European property company to share construction milestones transparently with customers.

Blockchain can incease transparency.

5. Consumers do not speak blockchain
Rules and protocols in blockchains are for machines, not human beings. Hide your blockchain, visualise the results, e.g., as maps or recipes Project: from farm to fork - transparent supplier supply chains (Is the product certifiably biological? Where does it come from? When was it produced?)

Hamburg to become blockchain city

The senate and and Fabian Friedrich, CEO of Blockchance, and other partners, have set themselves the goal of making Hamburg a key centre of blockchain technology in Germany and Europe. Blockchance was held under the auspices of Dr Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg, who stressed: "Blockchain is a future technology that makes digital processes in finance, trade and industry more secure. The development of new technologies is an important part of the senate's innovation strategy to support companies with digital transformation." The City of Hamburg is pioneering blockchain projects across Germany, he noted.

Friedrich is already planning Blockchance 2023 with over 7,000 delegates at the Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH) : from March 14 to 17, 2023. 

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