GUEST BLOG: BLOCKCHAIN: HYPE OR HAVEN?

Blockchain, or more in general distributed ledger technology (DLT), definitely takes a place among the hottest topics in FinTech these days. At times it seems like every company should get involved in blockchain projects in some way. But should it really be considered as a business changer? Or would it merely serve as an innovation that may incrementally help improving the way we live and operate our businesses? One thing that can be told for sure is that lots of efforts are currently being focused on the development of DLT. An overview of several interesting projects can be found below.

Imagine that you could send a payment to an apartment to rent it for a certain period, and when you arrive during that period, you can just open it with your smartphone. Once the period expires and the tenant has left, the apartment can send a payment to a cleaning company which would then dispatch a crew to clean the apartment. This is all possible through the combination of DLT and Internet-of-Things without the necessity of the landlord being present and fulfilling coordinating tasks. This is exactly what Slock.it is focusing on.

Since Bitcoin’s introduction in 2009, the development of DLT has caught the eyes of researchers and it has grown enormously in both depth and width. The technology can go far beyond the mere enabling of a digital currency and Slock.it is just one of those use cases existing in a wide variety of areas. The ability to reach a consensus on the transparent and immutable state of a ledger and the capability to implement smart contracts make this technology particularly interesting for a diverse set of applications. Everledger, for example, allows the certification and recording of a diamond’s transaction history from origination to end customer onto a permanent ledger in order to improve fraud detection. Tierion, on the other hand, enables permanent and time-stamped data anchoring onto the Bitcoin blockchain without the need to go to a notary to certify documents. Another example can be found in the area of governance: BoardRoom

allows decentralized decision making by voting on proposals through a blockchain, implementing smart contracts which can automatically be executed once approved. Several other projects are focusing on payment systems, such as Epiphyte which is a decentralized settlement system that includes delivery-versus-payment functionality, Rebit which is a peer-to-peer remittance platform to send money to the Philippines, and ChangeTip which enables micropayments through blockchain technology. Other applications can be found within the domain of decentralized equities exchanges (such as ) and peer-to-peer startup funding platforms (such as Funderbeam). These are, however, only a few of the blockchain applications that are being developed and many more are to come.

It is hard to find an integrated overview of the current DLT environment which is why we are currently developing a report for Eggsplore in which you will find the comprehensive overview you are looking for and which will be released by the end of June. The report is being constructed by conducting an in-depth literature research and several interviews with DLT experts. It takes you through the underlying building blocks and the most often discussed platforms and tools, an overview of numerous existing use cases, and some interesting collaborations. Moreover, the most pertinent challenges, going from technical issues to regulation concerns, are discussed as well in more detail. And last but not least, an overview is given of several opportunities within the DLT area, including a deep-dive into the potential of DLT for KYC.

In the meantime, we would like to share an overview of the most interesting reads we find when conducting our research through two Flipboard magazines: Distributed Ledger Technology: Interesting Reads and Distributed Ledger Technology: Projects.

About the authors: Robin Bracke & Lei Zhou are students at Vlerick Business School and are doing an in-company project at Eggsplore, on Distributed Ledger.