Blockchain technology focus of States-backed conference

THE States is involved in organising Guernsey’s first blockchain technology conference next month.

James McEwan, head of service value at Sure International

The free event on Thursday 2 March will explore how blockchain technology could change the world, as well as what it means for the future of local businesses.

Expert fintech speakers from different business sectors will be presenting the opportunities and risks for local businesses, as well as exploring where the technology is already having an impact in global financial services.

‘We are tremendously proud to showcase the technical expertise and innovation of local companies who will discuss their exciting projects.

In addition we will hear from some start-up companies who are already using blockchain to challenge traditional ways of doing business,’ said Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, the digital lead for the Committee for Economic Development.

The event is being backed by the States and corporate sponsors Carey Olsen, Northern Trust and Sure.

Organisers said it would particularly appeal to the trust, insurance and fund management sectors who want a better understanding of how blockchain technology could benefit their businesses.

Sure and Northern Trust already have initiatives involving blockchain under way and will be setting the scene for opportunities to use the technology.

‘At Northern Trust, we believe that blockchain has the potential to drive major industry-wide improvements.

'This is why we are taking a leadership role in a number of industry, regulatory and technology initiatives around the technology, ensuring we explore potential benefits for our clients and the industry,’ said the firm’s product manager Stuart Lawson.

‘The blockchain technology conference is a great opportunity to discuss this rapidly evolving technology and provide a greater level of understanding around blockchain, its applicability and the value for local businesses in Guernsey.’

‘Blockchain has the potential to transform business operating models in the long term and the insurance industry could be one of the principal beneficiaries. Sure is pleased to support this event as technology is our passion and we’re always keen to help the business community understand the latest technological developments and how they could benefit local industries,’ added Sure chief enterprise architect James McEwan.

Richard Field, counsel at Carey Olsen, said blockchain presented the island ‘with a real opportunity to lead the field by continuing to innovate and adapt in this area’, but would also bring new legal challenges.

‘We hope this conference will help put Guernsey on the map for cutting-edge technological developments,’ he added.

This free event will take place at St Pierre Park Hotel on Thursday 2 March. Eventbrite registration details are available on the Startup Guernsey and Digital Guernsey websites, www.startup.gg and www.digitalgreenhouse.gg.

Comments for: "Blockchain technology focus of States-backed conference"

Cher Eugene

What, exactly, is Blockchain Technology?

Roger Irrelevant

The blockchain is a distributed ledger book of all Bitcoin transactions. This means there’s no single database of records. The distributed nature of the blockchain also helps to secure it because the Bitcoin community collectively agree on all transactions; there’s no central authority that can block or reverse payments.

Source: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/606253/understanding-blockchain-hype-why-much-it-nothing-more-than-snake-oil-spin/

Doe

It's a way of maintaining an accounting ledger between multiple businesses or private parties without need for trust. The presumption being that doing business without trust is a good thing...

It falls apart if a majority of the involved parties decide to plot against a minority, as the system relies on majority consensus to validate the ledger. It falls apart on the performance end if it is run for too long as the ledger has to validate it's entire history for every single transaction. So you end up having to reset and work out final balances periodically and start again.

Basically the benefits are so niche that there's no point unless you have a super specific reason for needing to do business with people you don't trust. For this reason it's perfect for things like buying illegal drugs and digitally smuggling wealth out of China. Which is why it makes up a major part of the technology behind the accelerated economic bust-boom simulator and would-be digital currency Bitcoin.

Eric

Brilliant post, thank you!

Island Wide Voting

A States backed conference on bitcoin?

I suppose it must be OK as lessons will have been learned over Landsbanki,Arch Cru and Providence eh?

Cousin Vinny

IWV - Blockchain and Bitcoin aren't the same thing. I don't think in any of those cases, the problems were caused by the tech? Every other jurisidiction in the world is way ahead of us on Blockchain/distributed ledgers so this is us just catching up!

Island Wide Voting

Thanks Cousin Vinny

PS. Please confirm that you are not the shifty looking character in the photo

Cousin Vinny

I can confirm that! Why does he look so sinister?!

Cousin Vinny

Cher Eugene - It's always worth independently researching things you're not sure about or don't understand as the comments you've received in response aren't entirely accurate.

Blockchain is essentially the technology on which Bitcoin is based but suggesting it's the "distributed ledger book of all Bitcoin transactions" is slightly misleading. Not evey distrubted ledger is a Blockchain and vice versa. Blockchain and Bitcoin are not the same thing either.

Doe's comment isn't correct. Blockchain doesn't rely on "the majority consensus" and the suggestion the "minority" can somehow be colluded against completely misunderstands how the system works, it's the total opposite in fact - no single 'user' is better than another, all data is treated equally. So EVERY node of a Blockchain replicates and verifies the database so you only ever have one version of the truth, as once a transaction is made it can't be changed. Compare that to centralised records (say all of our accounts held at a bank) the bank and we are vulnerable if the bank gets attacked. With a Blockchain, hacking one node gets you nowhere, you'd have to attack everyone at the same time to change the data which is near enough impossible.

As to the suggestion this is so niche or that there's no point to it- almost every financial services business in the world seems to be investing millions in R&D in distributed ledger tech/blockchain. A simple google search will see how seriously it's been taken in the last year. But for Brexit/Trump it'd probably be all we hear about, likely a positive for Guernsey we're not, as we might otherwise be taking a "let's see what someone else does first" approach.

Beanjar

Public money should only be spent on this if the Minister responsible can explain what Blockchain is in simple terms which make sense. Nobody can, it is A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma. It makes no more sense than alchemy, many loons believe it that too. Bitcoin mining machines anybody? This is a total scam, the States should not be trying to confer any legitimacy on it.

Cousin Vinny

Distributed ledgers have actually been around for years, this isn't bitcoin and bitcoin isn't mentioned anywhere in the article!

Most politicians probably couldn't explain how the internet, smartphones or online banking work but that doesn't mean the tech is dodgy!

Admittedly, blockchain isn't the most simple thing to understand or explain and 12 months ago almost everyone was sitting on their hands to see what someone else would do first. More recently, it's pretty much universally accepted this is going to be the next big thing to change how financial services businesses work as a lot of money has been ploughed into proving it will. Guernsey isn't exactly the front of the queue with this but it's good thing it's not last too!

Beanjar

I presume this nonsense being 'backed by the States' amounts to our hard-earned taxes being used to support this hokum? What next, 'How To Get Rich From Tulip Bulbs', 'Ponzi Schemes For Beginners'?

Let me say it loud and clear, this is not a bandwagon the States should be jumping on. The Emperor has no clothes! This will end in tears! Responsible governments are having nothing to do with it. They are only getting involved to try and shift the focus from how utterly clueless, hopeless and lost they are.

Beanjar

We do not know who invented the blockchain, because the inventor used an alias "Satoshi Nakamoto". Very clever, because if he was known, the blockchain is so disruptive, that his life would be in danger. So, let us leave it the way "Satoshi Nakamoto".

Hardly very reassuring, is it?

Beanjar

Sorry, I should have attributed those words to the quora websute. Turns out they were wrong anyway. Trying to find any details on blockchains in any other context than crypto currencies such as bitcoins is virtually impossible. And the more I've read, the more suspicious I get.