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SnT Hosts Stream at Luxembourg Blockchain Week

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Published on Tuesday, 04 May 2021

Last week saw SnT host a day of the Luxembourg Blockchain Week, an event centred around the importance of blockchain in modern-day Luxembourg. The event began on Monday 26 April, with five days of conference and more than 70 speakers – including a keynote speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, as well as founders from many institutions in Luxembourg. The event was hosted by the Luxembourg Blockchain Lab - a collaboration between InfrachainThe LHoFTLIST, SnT and Letzblock, with the aim to create and nurture the blockchain ecosystem in Luxembourg. 

What is blockchain?

But what is blockchain, and why is it relevant to Luxembourg? Essentially, it’s a digital ledger of transactions that is stored on a network of computers. When a transaction is completed on a blockchain, it goes through a validation process and the information is stored on a block. This block is then encrypted and linked with information from the previous block – creating a chain of transactions. Blockchains operate on a peer-to-peer network, meaning that whenever a new person makes a transaction, they receive a copy of the blockchain. This makes them very hard to tamper with, since a hacker would need to have access to all the network users in order to alter any data. While the primary use for blockchain has been for cryptocurrencies – it was a technology created specifically for Bitcoin – it has a great deal of potential uses. Examples include storing information about product inventories and legal contracts, making its applications wide-ranging for industries in Luxembourg. “Blockchain today is developing into the foundation of tomorrow’s internet. This does not happen overnight, but the signs are there. That’s why we supported Infrachain in getting together Luxembourg’s blockchain all-star alliance,” said Xavier Bettel in his opening speech. Indeed, “It is estimated that blockchain will be responsible for a 2.6% boost in GDP for Luxembourg by 2030, with PwC estimating 6,600 jobs will be created,” said Emilie Allaert, Head of Operations and Projects at LHoFT and host of Monday’s opening stream.  

As one of the founding members of the Luxembourg Blockchain Lab, SnT hosted Wednesday’s Technology stream, where speakers discussed the current use of blockchain technology, as well as the implications of regulation in the use of blockchain. Two of SnT’s blockchain experts, Alexander Rieger – a research and development specialist – and Prof. Radu State – Head of the Services and Data Management (SEDAN) research group – took part in the sessions in the afternoon. 

Separating Value From Hype 

The afternoon saw Alexander Rieger deliver a keynote speech on Separating Value from Hype. Appropriately, Rieger’s speech ventured into talking about non-fungible tokens (NFTs), one-of-a-kind digital tokens that have grown exponentially in popularity in recent months due to hype surrounding large purchases in the global media. “NFTs used to be an interesting gimmick until February when there was an auction at Christie’s, where an NFT was sold for $70million,” said Rieger during his keynote. They’re part of the Ethereum blockchain (Ethereum being a type of cryptocurrency akin to Bitcoin), where each individual block in the chain is completely unique. They can be pieces of artwork, music or even a cryptokitty. Of course, a copy and paste would create a simple replica of a digital piece of artwork – but there would be only one original. It’s even possible for an artist to personally sign the artwork within the metadata. 

An interactive 'fireside chat’ followed, featuring Prof. Radu State and Alexander Tkachenko, CEO and founder of VNX Exchange – a digital asset platform for venture capital investments. The focus of the talk mainly covered the progress that’s still to be made in the field. Prof. State discussed his ongoing work with Ripple in the University Blockchain Research Initiative – a collaboration with Ripple and leading universities around the world to support academic research and technical development, as well as innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments. Tkachenko shared that “I think we’re really at the beginning of the development of blockchain technology. I strongly believe Luxembourg is on the map of the most blockchain players. It’s up to us to make Luxembourg into the significant player that it can be.”

 

Large Scale Blockchain Projects 

The stream wound down with a segment covering large scale blockchain projects, and how they differ from proof-of-concepts, featuring IBM’s Jannick Eisenhardt and Frank Teichmann. “As of last year, IBM had taken part in around 500 blockchain engagements,” shared Frank Teichmann. “In 80% of cases, we find a technical solution and it doesn’t have to be blockchain,” he continued. Indeed, IBM has taken part in some of the best innovations of blockchain, including Food Trust – a creation that has revolutionised the way that companies within the food industry can track their products, to establish the root cause of any contamination more accurately. Using blockchain, a product can be followed from its origin and throughout every stop it takes on the journey to its destination. In the event a customer becomes unwell because of a contamination, this can help companies establish what their food has come into contact with, so that they can identify the problem much sooner – a breakthrough that can save lives in the long-run.