BLOCKCHAIN: A DIS­RUP­TION YOU CAN TRUST?

Silicon Luxembourg - - BUSINESS -

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 tam­per­proof 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 LAWYER, 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, FINBOTLABS

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 flat 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 fail­ures or be­ing able to travel. If my prints were stored on a blockchain data­base, I would have had much more piece of mind (ah, and that data­base should prefer­ably run on some sort of net­work ad­min­is­tered by a group of non-prof­its, sim­i­lar to IXPS).

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