Blockchain –

the build­ing block of fu­ture tech

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - LETTERS - • ALAN ROSEN­BAUM

‘There are a lot of ways that blockchain tech­nol­ogy can make our lives bet­ter, and make things eas­ier to do,” says Joel S. Telp­ner, part­ner at ZAG/Sul­li­van, the in­ter­na­tional law firm with of­fices in Tel Aviv, Bos­ton, New York, Washington and Lon­don, as well as a prac­tice in China. The firm is a pow­er­house when it comes to ad­vis­ing hi-tech and life sci­ence start-ups do­ing busi­ness in Is­rael and the US, rep­re­sent­ing roughly a quar­ter of all Is­raeli com­pa­nies be­ing traded on NAS­DAQ to­day.

Telp­ner, a New York-based part­ner in the firm, re­cently vis­ited Is­rael for Tel Aviv Blockchain Week in early September. Tel Aviv Blockchain Week is a col­lec­tion of com­mu­nity, ed­u­ca­tion and devel­oper-fo­cused events de­signed to en­cour­age adap­ta­tion of blockchain tech­nol­ogy in com­merce and in­dus­try.

Telp­ner ex­plains that blockchain tech­nol­ogy is an ex­tremely se­cure method of trans­mit­ting data us­ing a clus­ter of com­put­ers. Un­like server-based sys­tems, the data is de­cen­tral­ized and demo­crat­i­cally shared across com­put­ers. Each time that in­for­ma­tion is added to the chain, the data math­e­mat­i­cally con­nects to the prior piece in an ex­act fit, mak­ing it vir­tu­ally im­pen­e­tra­ble. Ad­di­tion­ally, says Telp­ner, since the data re­sides on each com­puter, there are no is­sues with data­base com­pat­i­bil­ity and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent sys­tems and data­bases. Be­cause the data is shared and vir­tu­ally im­mutable, the in­for­ma­tion in it can be open and vis­i­ble to all.

Many of ZAG/Sul­li­van’s clients want to use blockchain tech­nol­ogy to rein­vent ways in which busi­ness is con­ducted, or to dis­place ex­ist­ing play­ers. “Like many law firms in Is­rael,” says Telp­ner, “we have a large base of early stage tech­nol­ogy clients, many of whom are look­ing at blockchain ap­pli­ca­tions, as well as pri­vate eq­uity firms and ven­ture cap­i­tal firms look­ing to in­vest in the space.”

Telp­ner points out that ZAG/Sul­li­van, as an in­ter­na­tional law firm, has a unique ad­van­tage in work­ing with blockchain tech­nol­ogy. “We are unique, with both deep blockchain ex­pe­ri­ence and a global foot­print,” he says. “When peo­ple were first de­vel­op­ing blockchain, there was a naive vi­sion that the tech­nol­ogy was bor­der­less, which is not the case. At ZAG/Sul­li­van, since we have a num­ber of dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, we bring a multi-ju­ris­dic­tional view to the ta­ble, which is im­por­tant. There are huge global law firms, but they don’t nec­es­sar­ily have the ex­per­tise in blockchain. Other smaller law firms don’t have the ge­o­graph­i­cal foot­print. We can help our clients in a much more global way.”

Telp­ner cites sev­eral ex­am­ples as to how blockchain tech­nol­ogy can be uti­lized ef­fec­tively. “In the area of fi­nan­cial ser­vices, it is chang­ing the way we trade fi­nan­cial as­sets, such as se­cu­ri­ties. Cur­rently, when a trade is made, it takes sev­eral days un­til the trade is fi­nal­ized and set­tled. With blockchain tech­nol­ogy, we can si­mul­ta­ne­ously trade and set­tle a se­cu­rity, vir­tu­ally in­stan­ta­neously, elim­i­nat­ing mid­dle­men and re­duc­ing the cost. Since it is a si­mul­ta­ne­ous trade and set­tle­ment, there is no con­fu­sion as to who owns it.”

Health care records – which, in the United States, are still paper-in­ten­sive – can be im­proved, ex­plains Telp­ner, if data is shared us­ing blockchain tech­nol­ogy. “With blockchain, we can cre­ate med­i­cal records so you can be trav­el­ing any­where in the world, and if you fall and break your leg in Kath­mandu, you can go into a hos­pi­tal and they will im­me­di­ately know what med­i­ca­tion you are tak­ing. Those types of ef­fi­cien­cies are great.”

Telp­ner says that the dif­fi­culty that some have in un­der­stand­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of blockchain tech­nol­ogy can be over­come. “We didn’t have to un­der­stand how the in­ter­net worked in or­der to use it.” He pre­dicts that in the near fu­ture, many more ex­am­ples of blockchain tech­nol­ogy will emerge to cre­ate new ways of do­ing busi­ness and will cre­ate greater ef­fi­cien­cies in busi­ness. “These are Is­raeli strengths,” he says. “There are some rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­ucts that are cre­ated here, but a lot of it is look­ing at the ways we do busi­ness, throw­ing those old ways out the win­dow and com­ing up with new ways. Many peo­ple are go­ing to be us­ing blockchain tech­nolo­gies to do that.

“There aren’t many firms that have a pres­ence here in Is­rael,” says Telp­ner. “There are a num­ber of client op­por­tu­ni­ties from Is­raeli ini­tia­tives and many non-Is­raeli com­pa­nies are set­ting up here. ZAG/Sul­li­van can ex­ploit this cross-bor­der re­la­tion­ship in a way that no one else can. There is no other Is­raeli law firm that has this struc­ture.”

This ar­ti­cle was writ­ten in co­op­er­a­tion with ZAG/Sul­li­van Law Firm.



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