What Did You Miss From the Digital SME Blockchain Summit 2020

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The Digital SME Alliance hosted its 2020 Blockchain Summit this morning, discussing why we need blockchain and DLT in Europe and what are some successful use cases. Sebastiano Toffaletti from European Digital SME Alliance made a brief overview of the state of blockchain in Europe. While the hype phase has passed, it will take about ten years for the technology to reach maturity. There is still a lack of comprehensive regulatory framework and standards for blockchain.

Mr Toffaletti added that there is a great potential for blockchain to bring more value in areas such as contract law, trade, logistics, and digital identity. Although 32% of the SMEs globally are European, Europe has not yet tackled its absolute potential.

Currently, there are several EU-level funds and policies that promote the further utilization of blockchain. The Alliance itself has launched its Taskforce to explore EU policies.

Keynote Speaker MEP Henna Virkkunen About Blockchain

MEP Henna Virkkunen said that as the digital economy is on the table, there is a greater focus on decentralized technologies and blockchain to transform industries in order to make them more competitive in the future. Of course, there are legal concerns that need to be addressed and there is a great need to foster a multi-policy response that will not hinder technology development and adoption. A greater understanding and awareness is needed at all levels.

According to MEP Henna Virkkunen, Europe has the capacity to become a front runner. In fact, in September, the European Union worked on a digital finance package in an effort to bring some legal clarity regarding crypto currencies. Operators will be able to confidently provide financial services cross-border thanks to the crypto legislation sandbox. The European Union is working to further provide investment in research and innovation activities and facilitate the SMEs’ access to finance and talent.

Panel Highlights – Why do we need blockchain? 

Mr. Peteris Zilgalvis from the European Commission‘s Unit Start-ups and Blockchain, said that the Digital Services Act is encouraging new business models and in addition to that, the European Blockchain Partnership has already started deploying on EBSI. Currently, there are four use cases that are a primary focus for EBSI, including diplomas and digital identities. Another key effort is related to creating global standards where EU law is taken in consideration and fostering blockchain solutions that are aligned with the Green Deal and the EU values.

Mr. Marco Bianchini from the OECD, emphasized on the importance of creating a common infrastructure, because as of today there is a plethora of different infrastructures and there is a lack of interoperability. There is also a need for the society and business to better understand how consensus and cryptography work. In that instance, the OECD has created its Global Blockchain Policy Center. Mr. Bianchini advises that the blockchain industry mirrors the particular national industry landscape. He also suggested that there should be a multilevel government approach to blockchain technology.

According to Mr Petko Karamotchev from Indstria, SMEs find the most value whenever there is a multiplayer interaction. Some of the most common use cases include trade, insurance, construction and energy. He gave the Italian banking sector as an example of blockchain adoption pointing out that there are 100 banks that are already on blockchain. Mr Karamotchev discerns five cornerstones to blockchain technology that are EBSI, standardization, the digital euro, decentralised digital identities and the legal validity of smart contracts.

Last but not least Ms Nadia Fabrizio from Cefriel, emphasized on the role of the government to support research activities in the European Union. As blockchain is a new ”strange animal” and is not like other commonly known technologies, we need economists and experts in game theory and mathematics. She suggested that governments need to fill the gaps related to funds, talents and opportunities by fostering relevant initiatives.

In conclusion, Mr Sebastiano Toffaletti concluded that Europe has the capacity to become a leader as far as a few essential issues are resolved – unified infrastructure, utilization of established standards, clear regulatory framework and support for thriving ecosystems.