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Innovative Initiatives (5/5) — Infrachain: Taking Blockchain Beyond Crypto Conversations

We could spend the next few pages telling you about Luxembourg’s digital transformation. Instead, we want to show it to you. Digitalization is here & now, happening all around you thanks to behind-the-scenes innovators. Today, they get the spotlight. Consider this a taste of what our entrepreneurs contribute to the country every day — an exciting buffet of initiatives that could not be more different. Up close, they form a colorful collage of efforts, big & small, but zoom out & you see a picture of national transformation. Each of our team members have chosen a Digital Luxembourg-enabled initiative to introduce & highlight. All five have impacted us, the country &, now, you too. Here are their stories & Luxembourg’s.
(Featured Image: Max Gindt, Project Manager at Digital Luxembourg / Image Credit © Silicon Luxembourg / Olivier Minaire)

Infrachain: Taking Blockchain Beyond Crypto Conversations

Max’s pick, Marco’s story.

For most of its life, outside of cryptocurrency, blockchain has been defined by its potential: a powerful new technology that, in theory, would leave no industry untouched.

When observing it out in the world, you would be forgiven for thinking that this decentralized public ledger is still brand new.

Infrachain represents the opposite of blockchain theory. The non-profit, government-supported endeavor is turning blockchain into a practical, real-world tool for businesses to use.

LuxTrust proposed the initial concept to Digital Luxembourg, who then brought the relevant stakeholders to the table, such as InTech, Telindus and government IT service provider CTIE. All were eager to collaboratively investigate blockchain’s applications, and Infrachain was incorporated in May 2017.

“Digital Luxembourg saw the potential of Infrachain for Luxembourg at its infancy and supported the project by co-financing its inception,” explained Marco Houwen, Infrachain Project Lead.

Globally, blockchain is still more of a conversation piece than a problem solver. One of the central barriers to its adoption is its anonymity.

“We are creating community-driven governance for blockchains.”

“The challenge is that the Ethereum network isn’t owned by anybody, so you can’t make anyone liable,” Marco said. “Banks and any organizations with a risk-based approach need to know their counterparty.”

On the other hand, if a company runs a blockchain in its own environment it cripples the technology’s greatest selling point: trust. Instead of giving one entity access to all the nodes on the network, Infrachain provides a happy medium. Who better to govern a blockchain than a non-profit organization of diverse actors?

“We are creating community-driven governance for blockchains,” he added. “We certify different host operators, and they are not working together because they are not linked together. There are no ulterior motives. They are just running Infrachain.”

An elephant in the room that the team chose to tackle head on is GDPR. The regulation guarantees the right to be forgotten, posing a problem for a technology revered as an incorruptible chain of blocks. How can the two coexist? – by basing personal data off the chain but using the blockchain to grant access that individuals can give or revoke.

“If Infrachain goes the way we think, it could really make Luxembourg shine as a blockchain competence center.”

Another adjustment happened when Infrachain opted for individual “instances,” meaning that each client gets its own chain. If they were all based on the same chain, any change would disrupt everyone.

Keep an eye out! Within the next year, LuxTrust’s ID project will become the newest tangible example of blockchain in action.

“If Infrachain goes the way we think, it could really make Luxembourg shine as a blockchain competence center – the center where blockchain was not only a nice crypto discussion, but something operational, and that is extremely important,” Marco concluded.

Max Gindt | Project Manager | Digital Luxembourg

“When we started supporting Luxtrust’s Infrachain idea, Blockchain was already center stage. In 2018, the blockchain hype ebbed somewhat, but Infrachain stayed focused on building a community of actors interested in actually deploying the technology to increase efficiency. We now see that Infrachain made the right decisions in embracing the importance of GDPR & developing a solid governance framework. In the meantime, Luxembourg has benefitted tremendously from having leadership in close contact with cutting-edge technology that can bring better services to the public. That’s why I’m confident we’ll see exciting, concrete use cases coming out of Infrachain & their community in 2019. Looking forward to it!”

(This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine).

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