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On the 21st of April, AMS alumni in the Business & IT master programs () organized a very well-attended event on The Blockchain together with the “Blockchain.Vlaanderen” Meetup group. Seven eloquent and international speakers addressed the 115 attendees in 2 interest groups, covering the various exciting new innovations and evolutions happening in and around The Blockchain. The event was held at the University of Antwerp Science Park, a stimulating business park for innovinnovative enterprises.

The ins and outs of the Blockchain

What is The Blockchain?

The event started with the all-important question: What is The Blockchain?

“From a technical point of view, it’s a unique, public, and transparent distributed ledger which stores all transactions immutably and permits predefined actions on those transactions in a cryptographically secured environment” (Koen Vingerhoets, KBC). For businesses, this means there is a shared platform for collaborating with parties you don’t know or trust completely. View the slides here.

The second speaker was Jan Verelst, Professor at the University of Antwerp and Antwerp Management School. He explained what Normalized Systems can contribute to Blockchains. Normalized Systems can help to assess architecture on coupling and fine-grainedness. Those factors are needed to guarantee evolvability. View the slides here.

The last speakers for the first group were Willem Van de Wiele & Laura Tielemans (White & Case). They focused on the legal aspects of The Blockchain. After all, its decentralized and cross-border nature raises regulatory issues. An additional obligation when working with The Blockchain is for example the need to appoint a Data Protection Officer. They need to monitor compliance, provide training and raise awareness. Another assessment that should be conducted is privacy impact. View the slides here.

 

First experiences with Blockchains

Casper Wind (Vecozo) opened the second track with his presentation about gaining traction in the healthcare industry in The Netherlands. He began his presentation by talking about his first experience with Blockchains, which was, to put it mildly, a disaster. He then went on to provide the audience with a view of how Blockchains are currently functioning within Vecozo, which is far more positive. He illustrates how Blockchains work through Vecozo, a communication hub for the healthcare industry. View the slides here.

“His first experience with blockchains was, to put it mildly, a disaster.”

The next presentation was given by Lucas Caesens and Bram Cappaert (Prophets). They use Blockchains as a platform to validate academic research: Nabu. Using Nabu ensures a 100-percent transparent transaction between ‘strangers’, without a central authority. They consequently hope to make academic research cheaper and fairer: there is no central authority to decide which articles get peer-reviewed and which don’t; the importance of an article is determined by its author, the number of readers, the number of revisions and the number of citations. View the slides here.

Daniel James Peterson highlighted the opportunities Blockchains can create in developing countries. He gave many examples of the use of Blockchains in developing countries. One was in the area of press publishing: it guarantees press freedom, anonymity and source reliability. Furthermore, it is possible to fund projects anonymously. View the slides here.

Vincent Hoek (i-Interim Rijk) closed the presentations to the second group with his presentation about trust. He posits that the Trusted Third Party is under pressure. By implementing a decentralized system, they are no longer needed. Companies within The Blockchain have shared content and shared consent. View the slides here.

We are sure all the attendees learned a lot about Blockchains and their possibilities as well as legal implications. As The Blockchain is sure to break through boundaries, we are happy, as a management school, to contribute to the establishment of a community in which new kinds of collaborations are forged. If you are interested in this subject, do not hesitate to join “Blockchain.vlaanderen”. 

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