Blockchain, the next big thing in FinTech and digital innovation more broadly. There is a lot of hype surrounding this topic, many of which is misinformed. Originally devised by the pseudonymous Cryptographer Satoshi Nakomoto as a digital record of transactions for bitcoin, the tech community is now seeking new ways to harness the strength and stability of blockchain.
Blockchain in a nutshell.
According to Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016), “[the] blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
This database like structure, secures, timestamps and verifies data, allowing an exact record of transactions working as one source of truth. Blockchain solves the central question of digitalized value.
Benefits of blockchain include proofs of; existence, state, identity (that which cannot be faked), purchase, location and transaction. This is the first time in history where we have something immutable in data. When data is truly unchangeable, then it can be used as a building block for other things.
Transparent and incorruptible, blockchain cannot be controlled by any one entity, and has no single point of failure. It is a kind of self-auditing ecosystem of digital value that checks itself every ten minutes, and the network lives in a general state of consensus.
How can blockchain be used?
Originally developed for the digital currency bitcoin, the tech community are exploring new ways of utilizing this secure paper trail record of transactions. Governance, banking, data management, identity management, biometrics, intellectual property protection, land title registration, and internet of things are just some of the myriad things to which the power of blockchain can be applied.
Blockchain for Justice: Reuniting refugees.
A Lab, the co-working space that brings together creatives and technologists to tackle societal issues through sustainable ways, hosted Blockchain for Justice. This talk featured presentations by several key players from A Lab, justice accelerator HiiL, and NGO Kids Reunited, who are all working together to come up with a solution to tackle a large and very serious, humanitarian issue; reuniting refugee children with their families.
The Big Issue.
Sadly, there are at least 2000 registered, unaccompanied minors in Greece. A portion of this group is waiting to see their families in the EU member states again. They have the right for unification according to EU legislation, yet unfortunately this process can take up to 2 years.
Often, children are separated from their parents in their home country before they have travelled to their current host country. There is a big problem with refugees, especially minors, being targeted for people trafficking and smuggling. This makes it imperative for the reunification process to go as fast as possible.
This coalition of lawyers, IT developers and specialists, and policy makers are working to solve the plethora of bureaucratic problems in (and between) Greece and the UN. They believe in the potential of blockchain to act as a record of data for these individuals who have fled conflicted areas, and who have every right to be united with their families.
How do they work? By taking the puzzle approach, these guys learn by doing and make use of the expertise of their vast professional networks and database of volunteers. Using the current infrastructure, working with the Greek government and utilizing technology and digital innovation, they aim to develop a pragmatic, sustainable approach to reunification. Having executed their proof of concept, the one thing they need to come closer to their goal is to accelerate.