Innovative uses of blockchain for public empowerment – WS 04 2020
The blockchain technology promises to provide a decentralized platform for efficient cross-border consumer-based markets and public services. Major building stones are initiatives like the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI) and use cases for public empowerment in areas like self-sovereign identity and trusted data sharing.
This Workshop aims at answering two questions:
- How could citizens benefit from blockchain applications?
- What are the key success factors for harnessing blockchain for public empowerment?
Many companies have been exploring the potential of blockchain in recent years. Regulatory frameworks on blockchain applications are underway in many countries. At the same time, a 2019 McKinsey Report states: “A particular concern, given the amount of money and time spent, is that little of substance has been achieved.” Does this statement relate to the corporate world or to blockchain applications in the public sector?
This session aims to focus on innovative uses of blockchain for empowering citizens. The debate will address the question of how the public and the global community could benefit from the innovative power promised by the blockchain technology. To which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), being the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”, is blockchain expected to contribute (or threaten) most? What are existing projects applying blockchain in the public sector or in service of the public?
Participants to the workshop will be provided with insights to the work that major public institutions like the European Commission and UNECE have initiated in the area of harnessing blockchain for pubic empowerment. The European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) is a major flagship project of the European Commission and the European Blockchain Partnership with four current use case: notarization of documents, certification of diplomas, trusted data sharing, and the European self-sovereign identity framework (eSSIF).
Within the framework of the European Blockchain Partnership, for example, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), being a co-chair member, is developing a series of innovative initiatives. The MISE plans to host in 2020 at least one technological node of the EBSI creating a blockchain platform aimed at providing cross-border public services at EU level and which will be tested in all European countries that will join the project.
UNECE has done major pioneer work in exploring the potential of blockchain in trade facilitation. For example, the Organic Cotton Traceability Project aims at enhancing transparency and traceability for sustainable value chains in the garment and footwear industry.
The International Association of Trusted Blockchain Application (INATBA) aims to facilitate the dialogue between the various stakeholders working on blockchain applications so that these applications could be “mainstreamed and scaled-up across multiple sectors”. What are the expected benefits for citizens from blockchain applications in the energy sector, for example?
The workshop will consist of short impulse presentations from the key participants followed by a Q&A session addressing the comments and questions posed by the workshop participants in the live chat.
- Pēteris Zilgalvis (Head of Unit, Digital Innovation and Blockchain Digital Single Market Directorate DG CONNECT Co-Chair, FinTech Task Force European Commission) at TechChill 2020: “European Leadership in Blockchain: Innovation, Infrastructure and Regulation”
- Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli (Chief of Trade Facilitation Section, Economic Cooperation and Trade Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) presentation on “Contributions to Blockchains’ Use in Trade” : https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/reser_e/04_b_maria_ceccarelli_mtp_rev_corrected_2019-12-02_wto_final.pdf
- The eSSIF and eIDAS: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ATXCzY-GM_U
- Kondova, Galia and Erbguth, Jörn. 2020. Self-Sovereign Identity on Public Blockchains and the GDPR. In Proceedings of ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC) Brno, Czech Republic 2020 (SAC’20). DOI: 10.1145/3341105.3374066: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3341105.3374066
- Kondova, Galia and Bolliger, Christian and Thammavongsa, Erich. 2020. Stablecoins: Types and Applications. In Sustainable Technology eJournal: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3553296
Until 27 April 2020.
Please provide name and institution for all people you list here.
- Galia Kondova
Organising Team (Org Team) List them here as they sign up.
- Silvia Giannubilo
- Amali De Silva-Mitchell
- Ashwini Sathnur
- Bart A.M. van den Bergh
- Debora Cerro Fernandez
- Jörn Erbguth
- Leandro Navarro
- TOM DE BLOCK / AIOTI
- Adrian Doerk
- Najah Naffah
- Ismael Arribas
- Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli, Chief of Trade Facilitation Section, Economic Cooperation and Trade Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
- Pēteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit, Digital Innovation and Blockchain, DG CONNECT, European Commission (EC)
- Barbora Greplova, Co-Chair of the Energy Working Group at the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Application (INATBA)
- Marco Bellezza, former adviser to the Minister of Economic Development, currently CEO of Infratel Italia S.p.A.
- Dr. oec. Galia Kondova (School of Business, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland).
Galia Kondova is an economist with World Bank experience in private and financial sector development in Central Europe. Senior Lecturer at the School of Business FHNW in Basel researching and publishing in the area of digitalization (blockchain, digital finance) for economic growth and public empowerment. Latest publications on Self-Sovereign Identity, Digital Finance, Governance of DAOs, Blockchain Use Cases, Stablecoins, ICOs and STOs.
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
- Marco Lotti , Geneva Internet Platform
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page. Please use this page to publish:
- dates for virtual meetings or coordination calls
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Please be as open and transparent as possible in order to allow others to get involved and contact you. Use the wiki not only as the place to publish results but also to summarize the discussion process.
- It is important to develop the knowledge of blockchain technology at the government level. There is the need to further develop the capacity of policymakers in regard to blockchain and new technologies so that they can fully understand the potential of such technology for citizens and for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- To ensure that blockchain applications benefit wider society, capacity development programmes should also focus on consumers and citizens so as to fight miscommunication and distorted perceptions about the potential of this technology.
- The blockchain environment is still highly fragmented: The lack of interoperability and engagement of stakeholders are among the challenges that prevent a broader application of blockchain technology. As a result, there is the need to develop common standards of application and a common legal framework by looking at existing standards. One of the possible ways forward is represented by the regulatory sandbox approach promoted by the European Commission.
Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/resources/innovative-uses-blockchain-public-empowerment.
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>> HOST: Okay. Good morning, my name is Marco Zennaro. I welcome you to Studio Trieste. We’re at ICTPC, International Center For Theoretical Physics. This section is about Innovative Uses of Blockchain For Public Empowerment. Let me share my screen. Just a few rules.
The code of conduct of this session and of EuroDIG in general. So when entering the room, please use your full name so we know who is talking. Raise the hand using the Zoom function to ask a question. Stay muted until the floor is given to you, and when speaking switch on the video. We want to see your face. State your name and affiliation.
Please do not share the links for the Zoom meetings, not even with your colleagues. Now I will introduce you to the moderator, Galia Kondova. Please, Galia, the floor is yours for the association.
>> MODERATOR: Yes, thank you, Marco. A warm welcome from me from Basel. I am deeply honored to have the chance to moderate this most appropriate session on blockchain and public empowerment.
I would like to express a warm thank you to our key participants. This will be Mr. Marco Bellezza who is a former advisor to the Minister of Economic Development of Italy and currently CEO of Infratel Italia. Ms. Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli, who is the chief of trade facilitation section at UNECE. Mr. Peteris Zilgalvis Head of Unit Digital Innovation and Blockchain, DG Connect, and European Commission. And Ms. Barbora Greplova who is the co‑chair of the Energy Working Group at International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications.
We rely on input of key participants to generate a wider discussion where the participants and audience can raise questions and we can discuss the two most important questions. How could citizens benefit from blockchain applications? And what are the key success factors for this new technologies to empower the citizens and public?
And since we have a virtual host being Trieste, Italy, I would like to give the floor to our representative of the virtual host country, Italy, Mr. Marco Bellezza. So thank you for being with us, Mr. Bellezza. The floor is yours.
>> MARCO BELLEZZA: Thank you very much. Thank you, Galia. Good morning to everyone. I hope to see you next year in Trieste physically. It would be better to see not on Zoom, but congratulations for the organization for having the condition to have this conference on the digital services.
As said, I was the advisor to the Minister DeMaio first and then the Minister of Economic Development. Now I accepted a new challenge that is to try to have the ultra‑broadband in the country. So I challenge even harder then to apply blockchain to digital services. But it is a chance just to briefly introduce what we have done in Italy on this topic, especially focusing on digital services for citizens.
We basically one of the first political initiatives of the minister DeMaio when appointed Minister of Economic Development was to join the blockchain partnership because Italy was one of the country that did not join the partnership when it was formed. Since then, September a couple of years ago, we started at the Minister of Economic Development. I will say a partner related first to improve the knowledge on the use of the technology. And then we started several project in order to understand what benefit this technology could bring to citizens and to business as well. And especially to the small and medium enterprise that are at the core of the policies of the Ministry of Economic Development since the first contact Government.
At the European level, we joined the partnership. I will say we’re very happy to work in partnership with the different European country, especially on common project and also the approach that has been taken by the European Commission in the partnership is really proactive and also engaging for the Member States. We started a partnership with the German Federal Ministry of Energy, which I would say the equivalent of the Minister of Economic Development in Italy. And from time to time, we have exchanges of view and also experience on this correlation. And I think this is very important also to let’s say bring knowledge on the technology at the Government level.
So just to let also policymaker, policymakers understand what we can do with this technology and why it is important to explore the potential of this technology.
And also at national level, basically, we are going now to finalize a national strategy on blockchain and distribute pledger. We conclude on the project with the Minister of Economic Development on the use of blockchain to certify the region of products. So to basically to protect the many, Italy. This project was carried out in partnership with IBM and with several Italian, small and medium enterprises in the area of fashion. I would say it was really appreciated as project and from this project, on their own, the small and medium enterprise that was involved in the pilot project started on their own project and application, all blockchain in their production process. That is in essence what I think is the – what we think is – should be the role of the Ministry of Economic Development. Not to be a commercial partner for the small and medium enterprise, but the function is to enable such subject to understand the potential of the technology and also if considered appropriate to use such technologies in the service.
And one of the other reasons why we started this pilot project is also to let consumers to have a better understanding of the technology and of the potential of the technology. And I think from that side, from this point of view, it is also important for the citizens as a whole.
And the project and the use case that has been started by the European Commission in the framework of the European blockchain services infrastructure are really important and relevant to – for the European citizens. In Infratel Italia, the company I manage since January of this year, we lost fully state‑owned company. We lost one of the Italian nodes of the Europe blockchain services infrastructure. And is also, I will say a chance for us as a corporation and also a chance for me improve the knowledge of this technology in my company. And what I think should be done in the next future also at national level should be to try to combine the use of blockchain technology along with the digital identity system that we have. I think this is really a challenge and also a frontier for the use of this technology.
The Minister of Innovation, Paula Pisano is working very hard to have a single digital identity system in the country. Because right now, we have at least three potential system of digital identity. But she’s working to have one single point to enable digital services for digital application services for citizens. I think that one of the fields which the blockchain would be applied in the next future would be digital serves and the manage – services and the management of the digital realm, which is a topic that is really debated at European level for all the potential implication that this topic has, in particular in connection with the management of the data of the citizens and then all the questions related to the application of the DGPR and also the implication on the application of the DGPR on a pure blockchain system. And I think that it will be really beneficial for us also at the national level to receive from European Commission specific guidelines on this potential application of the promising technologies. Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to having a discussion with the other participants on this very interesting panel. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Bellezza for this insight. I could get out of your speech that you are considering blockchain as an enabler for the different public services. Could we say that according to you, blockchain is a public good, itself? What is your opinion on that?
>> MARCO BELLEZZA: Yeah. It could be piece of public good. But I think we are not at the time being at this stage of the debate on the nature of the blockchain. But as an infrastructure that could enable public services should be considered as a public good in itself.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much. That’s a very good bridge to the next speaker. I would like to invite you to get involved afterwards in it the question‑and‑answer session when the participants could also raise questions to you, but I would just like to pick it up from here. Blockchain as a public good. And link this to the sustainable development goals.
Because when we talk about public goods, public empowerment, sustainable development goals come up to mind being a benchmark, being actually our guidelines how to achieve better public welfare.
That’s why I would like now to pose the first question to all the participants. And to namely to share with us your opinion on which are the three sustainable development goals to which blockchain could contribute the most, according to your opinion?
And now, you see here the code and the survey link. And I would like to ask you in the next one minute to provide your answers to this survey.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. I think now we can close this survey question. And we all can see a trend towards goal number 9 of the sustainable development goals. We had the majority of the participants indicating goal number 9, namely industry innovation and infrastructure as the SDG goal which blockchain can follow most, followed by goal 12, responsible consumption and production. And goal number 11, sustainable cities and communities.
Can I now pass the floor to Ms. Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli, who is presenting the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and share her insight and the experience of the commission of employees blockchain for the sustainable development goals? Maria, thank you very much for being with us. The floor is yours.
>> MARIA ROSARIA CECCARELLI: Thank you very much Galia. I hope you can hear me well. I apologize for the problem I had before, but it’s my first day back in the office. And my office computer, for some reason didn’t want to let me hear what you were saying.
So my presentation will be on the link between blockchain and sustainable development goals. First of all, very quickly, as Galia just said, I work for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva. And I’m leading a group that is called United Nations center trade facilitation section. And our aim is to support international trade, facilitating the transaction not only the exchanging goods, but also electronic messages. And this is why we are very interested and – next slide, please.
And we are very interested and working very closely with blockchain. If we can go to the next slide, please.
So what we have done in house on blockchain – while I’m not going to stay long on what is blockchain, because I guess everybody knows what it is. But as you know, this is technology that is rapidly evolving and as a huge potential benefit in terms of security reliability, and cost efficiency in information exchange.
This is exactly for this reason that the U.N. are looking at this new technology in order to support the sustainable development goals. In UN/CEFACT we have prepared two white papers, one existing blockchain with developers, already have. And the other is overview of what is existing and how blockchain can support trade facilitation. And we have a paper on how blockchain can support implementation of SDG and all of this material is publicly available on our website. If we can go to the next slide now.
So the 2030 agenda for sustainable development was adopted by all the United Nations Member States in 2015. It provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet and it is composed of 17 development goals, even in the graph I saw there were only 16, for some reason. The 17 – the last one is really on cooperation and partnership for all goods. In a way, when you do not work case something, you put it on 17 to just make it easier. So this SDG goals are aimed to end poverty and also looking at all the aspect of environment and human needs.
So over the next decade, countries will mobilize their efforts to end all form of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate changes while ensuring that no one is left behind. The agenda 2030 puts great emphasis on the role of innovation. And now can support sustainable development.
Blockchain can make considerable contribution to the SDGs but comes with some reserves that I will mention at the end of the presentation. In the U.N. family several projects are launched to use blockchain, especially on enabling EI entities, tracking information linked to identities, but not only, also to goods and distribute resources. If we can go to the next slide, please.
This is one of the projects that I like the most. And is linked to refugees. This project has been linked with the U.N. Women and WFP. And the first pilot has been done in Jordan and Syrian refugee camp, where the Syrian refugees have been gathering and you have to imagine our refugee when she leaves, leaves without documents in a major part of the case. Nothing with them. And the U.N. organization and NGOs, normally they try to support that. So this pilot called the Building Blocks was conducted in a refugee camp in Jordania, where more than 2000 refugees are at the moment. And they need to receive food. And what the idea was to distribute food through blockchain.
So linked to the scanning of the retina of the refugee. This is another project they will mention later on. These refugees can go to the local supermarket and instead of paying cash or with a card payment that could be picked by other people, they can pay directly through the scanning of the iris. So in this way, blockchain technology can be used to support the poorest and combating SDG two, zero hunger and five, gender equality. Because it is mainly addressed to women, because in a lot of cases they are the most vulnerable arriving with small children – kids.
And of course, in all of this, we are supporting SDG one for ending extreme poverty.
A more kind of usual topic for blockchain is transport. And exchanging of documents. So this project is a project that has been conceived by World Food Programme in order to track document along the food supply chain especially in Ethiopia and the Djibouti corridor. This supports shipments of goods for poor people and refugees’ camp. And in this way, we can avoid losing time for the relief goods to arrive to the military camps.
Go to the next one. This is a project here at UNECE, and it is a project in the cotton field. The name of the project is to implement the blockchain technologies for traceability and duty regions in the cotton value chain in support of superior economy.
Several private enterprises including fashion brands and textile producers are focusing their efforts for achieving greater transparency and visibility for their supply chain and production processes. The idea is that in this way the brands and the textile retailers can make informal decision, trying to reduce the green print, the environment impact of the production of cotton. But also the use of reducing the use of chemicals and fair work for everybody.
So we are supporting here SDG 12 that allows responsible consumption and production. And SDG eight decent work and economic growth. If we can go to the next project.
This is a project we launched three months ago. This is to create a white paper on strategy for development and implementation of a global blockchain technology infrastructure. And this is a problem that we have seen that frequently is rising when we are using blockchain. The main driver is to define elements of blockchain framework structure within three pillar, legal interoperability, governance interoperability, and technical interoperability. The objective is to find solution to make interoperable different blockchain or DLP protocols and standardize their capabilities and operation in different legal governance and environment.
This is especially in case countries don’t have a common regulatory environment. Next slide, please.
Atrium is a project developed by WFP and UNICEF. It is really a U.N. agency project to enable the U.N. with creating a sand box environment. In order to connect to each other.
If we can go to the last project example. This is the U.N. digital identity. I mention it when I first talk about the refugee camp. This is also a project to use blockchain to register refugees. This is especially important for minors when young adults or kids arrive in other countries, sometimes they arrive without their parents. It is very important to be able to trace them and nobody can change their identities.
And here, we support SDG 16 on peace and justice. And 17 on – that I was mentioning before that is on the governing operation.
If you can go to the next slide. So I mention some challenges with blockchain. Blockchain cannot be use in any case because there are costs involved. And then there is a problem – there might be a problem with regulation. And interoperability. If we can go to the next slide, I will just quickly recap the challenges.
So you ask, when you decide that you are going to launch a blockchain project, you have to see if you really need blockchain as a mean of securing your information. Sometimes you can use other means that are less expensive, so really, that is the first thing that you have to evaluate. And then when you create it, you have to look also at the business and vulnerable, and speed and ability to scale up. And then the degree of privacy that you need.
So just a word of caution because it could create barriers to micro, and small enterprises and some developing countries might not have the technology to speed up.
If we can go to the last slide. Just to – a couple of recommendation. There are many more examples of blockchain to support SDGs. I just mention some that are – some projects that at the moment led by the U.N. It could be NEDs for high potential technology, blockchain. What we have to see is that we are at critical mass in order to have benefit at global level. And then use interoperability in order to access and allow everybody to access and to link other blockchain.
Maybe if I could reply to replies given before. Don’t feel frustrated if you feel after my presentation, your reply was not correct. Because there are many other way of supporting the SDGs through blockchain. For example, many of you were mentioning the support to the energy, clean energy. And this is correct. For example, there are a lot of trials to use blockchain in order for private individual to exchange the surplus of the solar panel production. And many other projects that are covering SDGs, you can know more looking in our website, at our papers.
Thank you very much. If you can go to the last slide, just to thank you. Back to you, Galia.
>> MODERATOR: Yes. Thank you, Maria, very much. But you have provided an excellent example on the SDG number 12, which was also mentioned by our participants as the most relevant contribution for blockchain. Now, you have mentioned interoperability. And this is the Holy Grail, I should say, for the blockchain implementation in it a wider aspect. And I, myself, have the pleasure to be involved in this white paper that you refer to exploring the challenges toward interoperability. And I allow myself also to say that out of the research and discussions that we have been doing, solving the challenges, the legal governance and technological challenges and making it possible for blockchain to be interoperable is also in my opinion, the – one of the key success factors for enabling all these other public blockchain use cases.
And now I think we have the most appropriate now speaker that maybe could provide us with some practical insights and solutions as how this interoperability challenge can be solved. We have here Mr. Peteris Zilgalvis, representative of the European Commission and in charge of the European blockchain services infrastructure, that to the best of my knowledge aims to solve these issues, the issues of interoperability, the possibility of providing self‑serving digital identity for the European citizens. And at this stage, I would like to give the floor to Mr. Peteris Zilgalvis to provide some insight of what exactly is the European Commission is having in mind by supporting this European blockchain services infrastructures from. Peteris, thank you for being with us.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Thank you for inviting me. If I could ask my slides. There they are. The title of the presentation is EU fintech blockchain, innovation, infrastructure and regulation. This is all in the end for the citizen who is an actor both in economy and society at one moment a consumer, another moment a citizen, a member of society. And we aim to address both. Next slide, please.
We are aiming for a leadership role along with other important parts of the world in blockchain with a holistic approach. We have a joined up political vision. All 27 you EU Member States, Norway, Liechtenstein have signed the European paper declaration. We heard about this from the first speaker. We are happy of Italy’s contribution and all the Member States. In the public‑private partnership we work closely with the next speak everybody, the international blockchain application. This afternoon I speak to the policy group of the European Blockchain Partnership exactly on joining the Governmental advisory board which the European Commission, along with other international actors is already in.
And then we have connecting global and European expertise. We have renewed the EU blockchain observatory and forum, it had the first two‑year contract, it is a think tank working for us. And another public tender. The new observatory will start work very soon. Prior to that, you will have a final book of all the results of the first mandate. And as I say, this is the knowledge. This is a little bit information blockchain and innovation. Blockchain and public services, blockchain and self‑sovereign identity, blockchain and transport. I would go on and on. Please look at the website. The workshops are open to all of you. The community is open to everyone. The mapping is open for your projects.
Then we’re investing in EU research, innovation and startups. I will say more about that. And promoting and enabling single market legal framework, interoperable standards, which were just mentioned and skills development. Next slide, please.
This is on the investment side. And the investment side is maintained to charge our artificial intelligence and blockchain startups and scale ups. Again, this is the economic side. But ideally, we hope that there will be societal benefits and benefits for the citizen perhaps as a consumer now. We’re starting with one hundred million euro this year and this will go up through the invest EU program in the upcoming years. Next slide, please.
Convergence, data economy. We have new European Commission policies on a data strategy adopted in February. The digital strategy, which announced a framework for a convenient, competitive, and secure digital finance, including legislative proposals on cryptoassets, which why we’re involved with our finance colleagues, is not limited to those that are securities or payments but also utility tokens to run decentralized systems. For instance, decentralized systems for social good. Decentralized systems for sharing and managing data for the self‑determination of the individual. We have a white paper on artificial intelligence February 2020.
A blockchain strategy which is actually probably going to be now a part of a technological sovereignty strategy. So a chapter with what we call a staff working document. So perhaps just as even longer, but part of a bigger whole with the other vital technologies.
And a standards strategy, which my unit is also responsible for on all digital standards. This is also the interoperability also between technologies. Not just between blockchains, but also with artificial intelligence applications, Internet of Things, data. Next slide, please.
European Blockchain Partnership. We heard a bit about it. It is building a European blockchain services infrastructure. We have four use cases that are moving towards deployment now, regulatory reporting, self‑sovereign identity, diploma certification and audit document certification, and we have added new ones, including SME bonds, small and medium enterprise bonds on the blockchain across the whole single market.
This is something we very much need as part of the recovery. Next slide, please.
The European Blockchain Partnership, I would add on, it is working as a regulatory sand box. Something we will talk about now as well. We don’t have and won’t have a law on blockchain just as we don’t have a directive on transistors or on servers. But we will have legal documents, legal instruments on probably tokenization and maybe on smart contracts. But this is why, in adapting the provision of the public services to using a blockchain we have to experiment a little bit and here with the Member States, we can do that, utilizing a proportional application of EU law or international law. Next slide, please.
This is the observatory and forum. I mentioned it, but here you have great detail on all the different reports, the different workshops, workshop videos, this is available to you, please visit the Internet site. I won’t read you all the great detail. Among other things I would signal, the convergence of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and blockchain. I mean, we do see blockchain as part of an emerging technology stack. It can do some things by itself, but we think it will bring its greatest potential when it is enabling and being enabled by for instance, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Next slide, please.
This is what I mentioned on the legal side. We have a public consultation open right now on the digital services act. You have a set of questions on smart contracts. Is the current legal framework sufficiently clear to ensure mutual recognition of smart contracts across borders and clarify jurisdiction? And then we finished a public consultation on the legal framework for issuing and trading tokens, cryptoassets or digital assets when they’re not considered financial instruments. This can be very much the societal side, the individual self‑determination side token being used to give access to data to whom you wish to give access to. For instance, donating it for medical research or another purpose. But getting recognition and perhaps protection that with timestamping you can see that the data was accessed by those you intend to have access it.
Next slide, please.
This is more detail on the public consultation. All my slides will be available to you. So I won’t read it into great detail. But we did have a great deal of interest on the cryptoassets. 191 replies from different types of stakeholders. We want to see if there need to be changes there. Moved ahead. That’s fine. That’s fine. And now we’re moving ahead with that legal instrument. Standardization.
Standardization facilitates market take up. It reduces barriers to entry. It reduces lock in and public procurement. And we think it facilitates participation of SMEs and interoperability. This is also something that for economic and societal applications we think it is very useful. Next slide, please.
And I think this is where I thank you. You can find the blockchain observatory on Twitter. You can find me on Twitter. Write to me on email. We have a website which I didn’t include here. You can just look for European Blockchain Partnership, European blockchain services infrastructure. I will of course remain in the panel and can answer questions and respond and also can respond to you after this session by the media that I have shown here. Thank you very much, everyone, for your attention.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much Peteris. This is impressive what European Commission was doing. I, myself, participated in the public consultation, and I was impressed by the in depth of the document that you were sharing which gives the signal that the European Commission takes it seriously. So thank you also for taking the time to participate here.
You mentioned here the self‑sovereign identity. An issue that was mentioned by Mr. Bellezza, by also Ms. Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli and digital identity is I now dare to say a public good that could be enabled through the blockchain infrastructure. And that’s why I would like now to pose to the next – the survey questions to our audience, asking them to rank from 1 to 5 the most important growth factors for self‑sovereign identity proliferation in Europe.
We have five factors. If you go to the survey on the Mentimeter, you will be able to read the five suggested factors. The first one being business adoption. The second technology implementation, user adoption through inquisivity. Government support and regulatory compliance and the last one, governance trust and framework. So right, if you can take one minute to complete the ranking.
Maybe 10 more seconds. Okay. Interesting. For a long time, Government – okay. For a long time the complement on the regulatory compliance and Government support was taking the first place. Now we have technology implementation, interoperability and standardization as being ranked most important actor for having the self‑sovereign identity proliferation. It is quite interest because the two factors – let’s see whether it will change now. We have a user adoption trust and inclusivity. We can see the combination of the technology, implementation interoperability and standardization. User adoption trust and inclusivity. And this signals that we get from the public also are in accordance with the efforts of the European Commission and this is very impressive, right? Because the European Commission is approaching the aspects, the concerns of the public about blockchain implementation.
And now, if we look on the factor, which is highly ranked as most important for self‑sovereign identity proliferation, technology, interoperability and standardization, I am happy to have our next key participant, namely Ms. Barbora Greplova, who is the co‑Chair of the Working Group on energy at the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications. Because she could perhaps give us an insight of how this interoperability, this technology implementation could take place in sector as the energy sector in Europe. And what the Working Group of energy at INATBA is doing to support this. Barb, thank you so much for being with us. The floor is yours.
>> BARBORA GREPLOVA: Thank you, Galia and all the organizers for inviting me to the workshop. I am the co‑Chair of the energy Working Group of the INATBA association.
The whole association is slightly over a year old, and we formed our energy Working Group about some time last summer.
So we started to look at the value of distributed ledger technologies in energy across various sectors, or various levels of engagement. In terms of the benefits for the citizens, I would – I would probably divide it into indirect benefits and direct benefits. [Shuffling]
Within the organization or Working Group, we started to focus on how we operate over three subgroups. We have energy networks that focuses on hardware operation, maintenance, and security and physical aspects of the energy sector. We have subgroup is called energy trading, which focuses on the market relationships, peer‑to‑peer trading, and so on. And also, we have final subgroup that focuses on – I apologize for any background noise. That is my nephew.
We have a final subgroup that focuses on everything that is kind of nonelectric. So we have traditional oil and gas industry there. Traditional companies and utilities that are trying to transition into the digital era. [Audio skipping] We also have all the nonelectric‑related topics there.
In addition to those subgroups, we started to identify unofficially, that we wanted to focus on how energy and how blockchain and energy can help with sustainability and climate action. So we started forming an unofficial subgroup for that to look at how, for example, blockchain can help in regions that, like electrification or have energy vulnerable customers. So we started to look at that quite recently. It is one of the new additions to the group’s work. We also identified that what’s main issue within the whole ecosystem in connection to blockchain is communication. And information flow, and also misinformation about the technology.
So we started to focus on capacity building. And in that respect, we identified that it is not only important to focus on capacity building in terms of policymakers or decision‑makers or executives, but we also want to focus on the end consumer. The consumers and probably the next generation, the young people who are more and more becoming involved in matters of sustainability and energy and the whole climate action movement.
So as was mentioned by the other speakers, we also started to tackle the topic of interoperability. Especially in Europe, the energy sector is so fragmented that we don’t want to end up with blockchain applications energy that would be just seal out projects that don’t work together and don’t work cross‑nationally. Don’t work on the continental level, for example.
So the purpose of the Working Group for energy is to help first of all, with standardization and providing guidelines and recommendations on how blockchain can be utilized in the energy sector to help it modernize more quickly. How to deal with the whole fact that we have way more digital devices connected to the grid, to the whole ecosystem, and to Internet. Everything is interconnected now. So we’ve started to tackle the topic of digital identities as well because that’s, of course, connected with many people becoming preconsumers. People nowadays have their solar installations at home, they have battery installations, they have EV, and also have electric scooters or bikes. We can see that there’s the real empowerment for the citizens, that they’re becoming active participants in the energy ecosystem.
Historically they were only the passive participants. So we can see that there is new business models being made around customers. Everything is becoming more customer centric in the energy business.
And it allows the new business models allow, for example, to – it allows new business models for usage or for cost or pricing. For example, in terms of EVs, it’s been difficult or it is still very difficult to travel with your electric vehicle internationally because your energy account doesn’t travel with you across borders. Or blockchain is an enabler in this and can empower the citizen to be able to use the electric vehicle abroad.
It can also help, you know, give the customer peace of mind in terms of where the source of energy is coming from. So if it’s from their own house, you know, they know they also can provide [audio skipping] back to the grid. They are doing something for their community. They are doing or helping to make the energy a great more efficient or making it work more efficiently.
I would also like to say that in terms of the more indirect benefits to the citizens, of course, blockchain is more of functional tool in the energy business. It is not the silver bullet. It is not the ultimate solution, because as was mentioned before, blockchain is not always feasible in the energy sector.
And but what we kind of agreed on is that it is a functional tool that helps the other technologies to be more efficient, to be more flexible, to be – to actually cost less or provide more revenues. And in that way, indirectly, it can help the end consumer.
I have put down some more benefits on the slide that you can see in front of you. I also want to mention, you know, blockchain helps with operation and efficiency of a lot of companies. A lot of energy companies are starting to adopt blockchain to help with customer services with internal energy practices, and this in fact can actually have an effect on tariffs, for example, for the end consumer.
The blockchain can also help create local consumer oriented marketplaces or microgrids, which can be, for example, interesting in places like electrification or don’t have the necessary infrastructure that would be normally needed. So having those local power generation consumption perhaps can reduce some of the transmission losses an avoid some of the expensive network upgrades.
What I think is important for the end consumer and the citizens in terms of blockchain and energy is the transparency and the speed with what – with which new business models can be adopted.
And the transparency and the knowledge that data can be changed, really, on the blockchain is something very important for the end consumer as well as for the companies. So that is all from me. Thank you for the attention. And back to you, Galia.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Barb, so much. You have outlined various use cases actually in the energy sector that can be enabled to blockchain. And what I have noticed also here, you have confirmed the statement from Peteris that actually blockchain should be also considered as an enabler for other technologies, artificial intelligence and so on.
So this justifies the importance of the topic and of this workshop that we have. And I’m very much happy to see that we have participants waiting now to get engaged in questions. And discussions with you. And at this stage, I would like to open the floor to the participants to ask questions.
You could indicate this by using the raise hand button and Marco will unmute you. Or if you feel uncomfortable with that, you can post the questions in the chat function. I already have a number of questions. But let’s first give the opportunity to the participants to raise their questions online.
I don’t see any hands raised. Maybe I can read out some of the questions that were – yes. So we have now one question to Peteris. When do you expect the first EU use case delivering?
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: This year in the next month. In principal, several of the use cases are very close to deployment. We basically had the disruption of the coronavirus, which is not so much in the work, but in the possibility to publicize the launch of the deployment and so on. People are obviously preoccupied with other things, and I mean this should not hold us up forever, but you also want to announce and demonstrate things when there is some attention to it.
So I think you can be sure this year, and I think all the use cases within 2020, 2021.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Could you maybe say some words with the use cases? Because our participant seems not to be aware exactly of the nature of, I guess you mean the four use cases.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Very glad to. There are two – there is two – one that is regulatory reporting in the tax area. There is the self‑sovereign identity, which was mentioned. There is diploma certification and authentication. And there is also the audit document authentication and publication, probably with the oddity documentation with the European court of auditors we will be able to move forward most rapidly and basically anytime now. But like with everything, you don’t want to have things go live at least from a political point of view in late July or August because then it is not noticed, and you don’t then have the follow‑up take‑up effect.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. And now a further comment, building up on your response. We have a participant who makes the statement that most of the use – the use cases now are built on private blockchains. And what about services from public permission blockchains? To be integrated into the current framework.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Right now, this is part of the first steps, the applications, the use cases I mentioned. I mean, they’re permanent, therefore deployment, but they’re working right now on Theron Enterprise and Hyperledger Fabric. We’re preparing under the digital program which will start in 2021 to make an innovation procurement of – a probably never use the word “permanent” because in software and technology things need to be constantly updated. But a protocol layer that we would utilize along with applications, layers, layer technologies. So there we are – we are very open. We will be defining that. We have which may be of interest to the listeners, especially if you are in the ecosystem in the supply side, we have a precommercial procurement open right now to basically scale and improve and ensure sustainability of the blockchains that we are using. I mean, this is a process, but it is a process that is taking up speed and is scaling with a high ambition.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thanks a lot. So I have another question. And this question has been brought quite early in the chat. It is about a question to Maria. And I am now reading it out. One of the concerns of using artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the refugee camps is to understand what is the fundamental rights refugees and displaced people are fully protected. How is the data being collected, managed, and used? Who controls the data collected? And how involved are the refugees in these decisions? This is a question related to the use case presented by Maria.
So Maria, if you would like to provide an answer to this question?
>> MARIA ROSARIA CECCARELLI: Yes. I also posted in the chat the link where [audio skipping] more information on this project. So all the information collected are collected by U.N. employees in the refugee camp. How they are stored, these are private database. This is not of course an open database. And it’s managed by WFP. And they ... the last past, if the refugees’ decision are kind of included.
Well, I think that when a refugee arrive to a refugee camp, they want the maximum of the support that they can have. And they have all the interest in having their identity recorded. And receiving support in food and other means. I just wanted to, if I can, just quickly mention a project that was under development with the U.N. Women was the blockchain to record the properties in some rapid countries where women have no right. If they don’t have a man, they cannot claim any property.
So, you know, when you are in the situation where you risk to lose everything, okay, you – if you have something in a refugee camp can be stolen, can be taken from you, someone else can use your identity, I think you have an interest that someone can say who you are and what right you have. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Maria, very much.
I have another question, and this question I just read it out. This is from Amali De Silva‑Mitchell. Are there preparations that can be put in place for users for smooth transition to blockchain from paper or other technologies? So basically, what is necessary for the users, for the citizens themselves so they can take advantage of these use cases? Who would like to take a position from our panelists?
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: I can make a very rapid response, and it is one that is also a little bit a challenge to the industry.
Obviously, like with something like platforms and search, et cetera, I mean, blockchain will really take off either for public sector uses like our European blockchain services infrastructure. Or for private sector uses, when you have, for instance, a decentralized app to do it when you have something that the ordinary citizens can push a button, insert information in. You can’t be expecting individual people to be downloading nodes, writing smart contract in solidity. I mean, some people will do this. But for mass adoption. This is what we have to aim for, ease of use, whether it is private or public.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Peteris.
Now I have another question for you. And it is about the EBSI services. If a company wants to develop a use case on top of some of the initial EBSI services, will they be fully operational to run securely future applications? And would there be any permanent support team?
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Okay the EBSI will open up, obviously will some part kept secure with tax reporting between member states and so on, which will be an internal secure system. We do intend in the medium term to open it up.
Right now, if a private company wants to participate, there is essentially two routes. One is the precommercial procurement, which is open right now, this is more selling to, integrating a service into the EBSI.
And the second one is the European Blockchain Partnership declaration has an opportunity for a public‑private partnership. So this would be a proposal that should then be made to one or several Member States, and this can then be considered by the blockchain partnership and the commission to be put in the list of the use cases as the first public‑private partnership. And then we foresee once things are really up and running and has the larger budget under the digital Europe program, then there would be an entity managing this also for external relations, external contracts, full‑time, and then there you could have much more active cooperation. But we’re still a year, several years from that.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Peteris. Another question. As EU south strategy we are interested in the development of cross border, digital SGI, are there any initiatives in this field use being blockchain? From Eliseo P.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Definitely. Definitely I would be eager to give the floor to another participant. We are working on a fund not confined to blockchain. I mentioned the AI blockchain fund. We are looking at potential use cases related to green issues. But this will be a little bit in the future. But also on product passports. I think someone else may have something to add.
>> MODERATOR: Barb? Would you like to comment?
>> BARBORA GREPLOVA: I could not advise, but I would be happy to find out within the association how would be the reward – what applications would be the best to be linked to or serve Arizona a role model. So I would include my email in the chat. I will be sure to find out the answer for you.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: Sorry to put you on the spot. It is a very active – very active green and climate Working Group. I’m sorry about that.
>> BARBORA GREPLOVA: No problem. We are very active. I’m actually happy to learn, myself, what this could be. And I’m happy to provide the answer to Alessio P. I’m happy to share the email here.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. So you are posting this in the chat. Thank you, Barb. I have another question for Mr. Bellezza, but I think he left because he notified us he needs to leave earlier.
Now, another question is related to the COVID‑19 tracing cap and the question is from Fabio. Could blockchain be put to use in relation to COVID‑19 tracing and privacy concerns? Maybe Peteris or Maria.
>> PETERIS ZILGALVIS: We are not working on it in my unit. The tracing apps are primarily national because they’re linked to the national health systems. Though it is foreseen they will be interoperation in the health network in the EU is working on this. These are representatives of the health ministries. There are – I know we have seen there are several propositions to utilize blockchain for the core of such tracing apps. We think again, where justified, this would be very much a good idea.
>> MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Barbora would you like to mention about initiatives COVID‑19 tracing app.
>> BARBORA GREPLOVA: In terms of INATBA, we have a fairly new task force created in INATBA in connection – in collaboration with the Working Group healthcare. They are in collaboration with the World Economic Forum as well. And they have – I know they have several applications identified within the INATBA membership that they’re trying to utilize. And see how that can work. As I am from different [audio skipping] Working Group and this is focus of the healthcare Working Group, I wouldn’t know exactly where they are right now, but I know they’re very active in terms of already identifying or they have already identified applications that being potentially help in this aspect.
I know that they are in collaboration with the Canadian Government as well who are focusing on, I believe, digital identities, identification of people, and other use cases, other sectors. So there’s a very close collaboration between the public and private sector to see how services can be more digital and not physical any more. So I hope that helps with the question.
>> MODERATOR: Yes thank you, Barbora. Now I see in the chat a last message. Namely that we have run out of time.
Now, at this stage, I would like to wrap up our session. First of all, I would like to thank our key participants and our audience for engaging in this very interesting discussion.
Now, I would like to give the floor to our Rapporteur, Marco Lotti, who is with the Geneva Internet platform, to summarize the main messages he has taken out of the discussion. These messages will be supporting by report which is to be found on our EuroDIG wiki afterwards. Marco, the floor is yours.
>> RAPPORTEUR: Thank you very much, and thank you to the speakers for such an interesting discussion. I’m Marco Lotti, I’m with the Geneva Internet Platform. The Geneva Internet Platform is providing key messages and session reports from all the workshops in the main sessions. And summary of each session will be available later this work and or beginning of next week on our website. And I will also include the link in the chat. The link, as you said correctly would be also linked to the wiki page of EuroDIG.
So just a reminder before I read the message about the fact that these messages will also be available for additional comments from the speakers and the moderators of the session. And EuroDIG will also email more details on that. So this moment is just to see whether there is a very rough consensus of the messages that you see now displayed. Let’s now go to message number one. Which reads, it is important to bring knowledge of blockchain technology at the Government level. There is the need to further develop capacity of policymakers on the blockchain and new technologies so that they can fully understand the potential of such technology for citizens and small, medium surprises, SMEs. If there is any strong objection to this message, I would invite you to write so in the chat. I’m waiting for a couple of minutes. I have compiled three messages. Two focus on capacity development. The first one is on capacity development and information of policymakers. And the third message will focus on interoperability and common [?].
Again, if I don’t see any strong objection, I remind you of course you can edit the messages later on. I don’t see anything in the chat. I would move to the second message, please.
Okay. As anticipated the second message is still focusing on capacity building. To ensure the blockchain applications – to ensure blockchain application benefit the wider society, capacity development programs should focus also on consumers and citizens so as to fight dis miscommunication and distorted perceptions about the potential of this technology.
Again, if you have any strong objection to this message, I invite you to type so in the chat. No? Again, not seeing any strong reactions, I would therefore move to the last message, message number three.
Which is the longest. But it is difficult – it is always difficult to condense in two or three messages, such a rich discussion. That is the challenge on my side.
The third message reads as follows. The blockchain environment is still highly fragmented. The lack of interoperability and engagement of stakeholders are among the challenges that prevent the broader application of blockchain technology from a successful local – from successful local cases to the global level.
As a result, there is still need to develop common standards of application and a common legal framework. One of the possible ways forward is represented by the regulatory sandbox approach promoted by the European Commission. Again, I invite you to type any objection to this message. I remind you again, you can still comment on the messages later on, on the platform that EuroDIG will send you more information about, as well as detailed summary of this session will be available on the Geneva Internet Platform website. Digital website. I just included the link in the chat.
Not seeing any objections. I think one comment Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli I think you should add to existing standards.
I agree, this can be included. Thank you for this edit. Any other comments?
Again, not seeing any substantive comments in the chat, I would give the floor back to you, Galia. Again, thank you very much for this opportunity.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you, Marco, for an excellent summary. The points from all the key participants’ inputs were outlined by you. I would like to thank the key participants and the audience for spending their lunch break with us discussing these issues, which emphasizes the importance, right, of the issues. And I was really happy to have representatives of this public institutions talking to us about their efforts and initiatives on having the blockchain technology empowering the different public use cases. I think we can wrap up the session by agreeing that we are very, very optimistic and positive about the future developments, but we also have to acknowledge that there are many challenges.
And it is great to have the engagement of, as I said, this public authorities, the institutions, the EU and the European Commission that supports the efforts. Because it seems that blockchain is actually a public good. It is not fitting the classical business models.
Now we have a completely different business model where all participants have to co‑create, have to cooperate in order to benefit. And this is also proven by the open source nature of the blockchain technologies and protocols.
And this is something, from my side, an ITU, which I would like to share with you because for me, exactly the blockchain is this public good. It is a new business model where everybody has to once again co‑create in order to benefit. And in this sense, also, the one statement, which I read in 2019 from the McKinsey Report saying that despite all the years of money and time, nothing is – there is no evidence of success. Actually here, I should say that there is evidence coming, but the evidence should be expected more on the public side. The public services.
And here, we would have exactly this combination of cooperative models where we have the businesses working with the public authorities for creating public goods. And with this inside of mind, I would like to thank you once again, especially for sacrificing your lunch break for this workshop. And I hope to see you next time, next year, at EuroDIG 2021 and perhaps also in person in Trieste. And thanks again. See you. Bye.
>> BARBORA GREPLOVA: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Galia.
>> HOST: Thank you, Galia for the excellent moderation, and the speakers and participants. Just a reminder, we will reconvene at 2:30 on the same studio Trieste to talk about social media rights and responsibilities. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Marco, also for the perfect hosting. Thank you. Bye.