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Blockchain: A Disruption You Can Trust?

We invited experts to answer our most frequently questions. Here is what they had to say. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
Laurent Goyer

Allen & Overy Luxembourg
Corporate Associate

When it comes to fintech and, in particular, blockchain, the buzzword is disruption. However, shouldn’t we trust blockchain because it is virtually impossible to disrupt?

Trust is an essential concept in the legal world. For instance, how do you make sure that a contract has been duly signed by the relevant persons if you are not physically present to witness the signing?

How do you prove that the letters scribbled in blue ink on the piece of paper are in fact the signature of the individual whose name is printed on the pages? You call upon witnesses – whether normal individuals or, for even more comfort, a trusted independent third party, such as a notary or a lawyer – to ascertain the authenticity of the signature.

What if you could have access to an entirely decentralized and tamper-proof technology that could instantly confirm the signature’s authenticity? This is one of the many examples of how blockchain could and probably will influence the way information is verified, not only in a legal context but in the general business world.

As human beings, we are naturally inclined to trust what we know or what we understand. Despite being more and more in the spotlight, blockchain is still a relatively unknown and misunderstood technology. Could that explain the general suspicion surrounding it?

When the US Federal Reserve issues its first cryptocurrency in five or ten years, it will be interesting to see what the token motto will be: in God we trust or in blockchain we trust?

That is one disruptive question.

Arnaud Touati

ALTO Avocats

Blockchain replaces traditional trusted intermediaries. I believe in the development of blockchain as long as it is legally regulated. I think that everything will come down to finding a balance between minimal government control and respect for blockchain’s first function: turning code into law.

Ronald van de Meent

Blockchain Solution Architect

In short, yes. However, it seems there are a lot of misconceptions around blockchain technology. Yes, it is the technology that powers Bitcoin and, after that, more and more digital currencies. I am not a coin/ICO enthusiast. I do see value in some places, but for the moment, Bitcoin is more comparable to a golden coin than to a real currency, and ICOs are currently unregulated forms of kickstarters (that are not out fraudulent).

The real strength of blockchain technology that I see is in its distributed form. It makes it virtually impossible to corrupt data, making it invaluable for a number of applications, and one I would like to see happen is e-identity. The last time I picked up a new passport (I am Dutch and the Dutch government is notorious for getting IT projects totally wrong) I had to let them scan my fingerprints. There was no opting out. So, either no passport and being safe from government IT failure or being able to travel. If my prints were stored out on a blockchain database, I would have had much more piece of mind (ah, and that database should preferably run on the same sort of network administered by a group of non-profits, similar to IXPs).

This article was first published in the Autumn 2017 issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.

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