Interview with Hanna Zubko (IntellectEU): Is the US Ahead of Europe in Blockchain Innovation?

 Dear Eggsplorers,

Recently Business Insider UK shared an article with the title: ‘’The US is ahead of Europe in blockchain innovation’’. To comment on this topic Eggsplore invited Hanna Zubko, from IntellectEU, to an interview.  

Eggsplore: This article mentions distinct ways to rate the countries regarding blockchain. How do you analyse the number of patents for blockchain-based products as a measure of progress in blockchain innovation?  

Mrs Zubko: The United States has a strong culture of Intellectual Property Rights protection and obtaining patents is one of the objectives for R&D activities. The key question is whether those patents are used. Therefore, I would rather measure progress in the number of production implementations, millions of Euros or USD saved and earned, or number of lives positively touched. Number of patents is a fair measure, but in my opinion far from being the absolute one.

Eggsplore: Banks in Europe and in the US are venturing down different paths to expand blockchain innovation, the first on is based on collaboration and the second one on individual projects. How do you evaluate in the long term, the pros and cons of both approaches?

Mrs Zubko: In a long-term perspective, collaboration wins, and network effects can create economies of scale yet untapped. My observation is that blockchain related collaboration becomes more and more global and cross-industry. Linux Foundation’s Hyplerledger is a good example of such collaborative project that brings together 95+ members including banks, corporation and technology companies working to advance open source blockchain and smart contract technology. The geography of members and contributors ranges from the US and multiple European countries including Belgium all the way to Japan, China and Australia.

In the short term I also see value for banks and corporations in exploring and comparing available blockchain technologies within individual projects that are aimed to bring value at the enterprise level already today. The use cases would typically focus on elimination of internal reconciliation, validation of identity of signers and document integrity, optimization of document flows, enhanced security and compliance.

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Eggsplore: What are the challenges that the European banks still need to overcome to have blockchains in commercial production and at scale?

Mrs Zubko: The challenges of deploying blockchain solutions in commercial production and at scale are rather global, since technology is still in its early days. MIT’s Joi Ito compares current state of blockchain technology to the state of Internet in 1989. Clearly, further collaboration will be required to harness promised potential and develop production ready solutions.

To accelerate those processes, European banks should become more open to share and exchange ideas. I have an impression that overall European culture of innovation is more closed and gated. I was surprised to experience the open culture of ideas sharing in Silicon Valley and a well-known expression “ideas are worthless, execution is everything”. So, I would encourage European banks to share ideas as much as possible. After properly patenting them. 

Hanna Zubko Co-Founder & VP of Business Development, IntellectEU Inc. New York City

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