Blockchain Technology will change many business models
Why can you send an e-mail to someone for free, but do you need an intermediary to transfer money, plus a few days of patience and fees for the transaction? That question seems to become redundant with the rise of blockchain technology. “This development is really going to change the world. I expect even more than the arrival of the internet at the time,” says Erwin Giesbers of DecenterX.
Unlike the internet, blockchain technology can also transfer value directly. With an e-mail you keep a copy of what you send. It is different with blockchain; if you transfer an amount, it is immediately gone and it is also directly on the account of the recipient’, explains Giesbers. He already foresaw the drastic development in 2013 and, as director of Compello, founded Trustbrix to create a secure and decentralized application. With his company, he became the main sponsor of PEC Zwolle, which performed formidable in that period. ‘We were one of the first, but we were too far ahead of the music’, Giesbers realizes. “Not wrong in itself, but we want to hear the corps and that was not the case. If there are more questions than answers, then you are too early.”
Giesbers did not give up and he has been developing concrete blockchain applications with DecenterX for a year and a half. About fifteen people have already been involved in this.
COMMON CASH BOOK
Blockchain is based on Bitcoin technology and was created in 2008 during the banking crisis. Satoshi Nakamoto devised a system for transferring value over the Internet. A common cash book was created that is updated at any time. Giesbers: “Without bitcoin, there would have been no blockchain. There are now thousands of applications besides bitcoin. The core of blockchain is that you will automate trust. You no longer need a third party. Moreover, the blockchain is secure. The data is stored decentrally, so not on one computer but on many computers. This way the system cannot be hacked. And the most important innovation of the blockchain are the smart contracts: immutable agreements made in computer code and recorded in the blockchain.’
Banks, insurers and civil-law notaries will have a completely different role in the future due to the arrival of blockchain. Giesbers: ‘The bank is still at the center of money traffic. With the advent of digital money, people can transfer money worldwide in seconds, almost free of charge. The blockchain then forms the transport system. Banks will be concerned with monitoring users and money flows. They are now investing almost half a billion in blockchain. The biggest challenge is that the regulations are lagging behind. We are now working hard on the legal frameworks.”
In May this year, the Blockchain Valley Foundation organized the Blockchain Valley 2018 conference with DecenterX and Deloitte, where 450 visitors were informed. “During this conference, we showed possible and existing applications with blockchain technology in various sectors, such as healthcare, education, government and financial services. For example, the Deltion College looked into what we can do about the fake diplomas that anyone can order easily and for little money via the internet. By registering the diplomas irrefutably and forever in the blockchain, a prospective employer can have confidence that the applicant is the rightful owner of the diploma. A green check mark in a mobile app or on LinkedIn is the digital seal of approval so that the paper diploma becomes superfluous. A wonderful opportunity for the Zwolle region!’, according to Giesbers.
“This is how blockchain business models are changing,” he continues. ‘Take a supplier of office chairs that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to incorporate a sensor in its chair. He sells the chairs for a lower price and every chair movement is processed and settled in the blockchain. Or an airline that shows you on an app on arrival at an airport whether your suitcase is there. If not, 100 euros will be immediately transferred to you to purchase the basic necessities. Human interaction with a claims department is no longer necessary. The working method is therefore more efficient and as an airline you retain satisfied customers.’
Customers can contact DecenterX for the development of blockchain applications: from idea to realization. “After knowledge and inspiration sessions, we use a digital mood board to create a usable application,” explains Giesbers. “Blockchain doesn’t start with IT. Together with the management, we look for efficiency benefits or new business models. Then we make a proof of concept. Then the customer can decide whether to take it into production or not. Blockchain technology is not a threat, as it will be built alongside existing systems. But it can be linked to existing systems.”
Giesbers is firmly convinced that companies that are too hesitant now will suffer as a result. ‘I advise every company: think about it, get informed. Take it up with other companies if necessary.”
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Text: Erik-Jan Berends, Photography: Peter Timmer