On the 24th of May, the Spindle and The Blockchain Society Lab organised three workshops on Blockchain in the development sector during the Blockchain Week in The Hague Tech. Interactive workshops, hosted by Yvo Hunink (The Spindle) and Julian Sommer (Peace Innovation Institute), challenged participants to think about further steps in their use cases. Jimmy Snoek (TYKN) and Khakhar (Toblockchain), both experts in the field, furthermore illustrated how they already work with blockchain to solve certain development and sustainability issues.
Workshop 1 and 2: Creating and capturing impact for unlocking use cases in the humanitarian sector
Both workshops were facilitated by Yvo Hunink and Julian Sommer, representing The Spindle and ixo.foundation/the Peace Innovation Institute. Both parties join forces to support the application of Blockchain for social good.
During the first workshop, several themes relevant for the civil society sector were discussed by Yvo Hunink. Hunink already did a research on use cases in the humanitarian sector for The Spindle. Click here to read his online magazine on blockchain in the humanitarian sector. Thereafter, Julian Sommer gave an overview of how capturing and tracking impact can be done with Blockchain. It can help any kind of organization to effectively and transparently track the results of their activities. The meeting finished with an open discussion between the participants.
In the second workshop, participants got a chance to put their own insights to use. In groups, a first project proposal for a government subsidy of a Blockchain for social good was created. A special tool that showed all use cases being proposed for Blockchain in the humanitarian sector was used. This way the participants got insight into what is possible in the existing world. The workshop ended with an interesting discussion, based on real-life problems the participants had with their use cases. They discovered that the questions about use cases are usually very cultural:
What are the legal possibilities? And how do you find new incentives in this new blockchain system?
The answer to this question is that the best use case of Blockchain is a new solution that can only be solved Blockchain. Another question that arose during the discussion:
Do we enlarge the gap between the rich and poor with the application of blockchain?
A lot of the poor don’t have an internet connection and therefore can’t make use of blockchain solutions. This is a very important question at the moment, because we are now designing the far future. It’s very likely that Blockchain is up and running in ten years from now. What we design now can have a direct impact on the future. Besides that, there is much more need for Blockchain solutions in developing countries than here. If for example, your currency is not stable, cryptocurrency becomes much more relevant.
The biggest problem, for now, is the definition of identity. Identity is already visible in systems, but not yet implemented in a proper way. Blockchain technology has to deal with a contradiction: the biggest pro of the blockchain solution is the anonymity of transactions, meanwhile the identification (are you the person that you say you are) of these transactions something we want.
Workshop 3: what implemented impact looks like
The last session of the evening was an informative session with two of the frontrunners of the application of blockchain in the humanitarian sector.
Certify their identity
Jimmy Snoek, business development lead at Tykn, spoke about the 611 million people on earth with an identification problem. Amongst them a lot of refugees, including Tey Toufic, the current CEO of Tykn. In October 2017, Tykn participated in The Spindle Summer Labs and won the award for ‘Best Idea’ at the Partos Innovation Festival 2017 with their project called ZINC.
Tykn is currently working together with the Red Cross in Sint Maarten, where a solution will be implemented for the identification and registration of people after a disaster. This process is expensive because money has to be sent as soon as possible to the relevant area. This is done by sending money to several banks all over the world. Transferring costs are a big issue in this process. Another problem with paper-based aid like money is that it can get lost and a lot of people do lose the voucher they can exchange for help.
Tykn tries to solve the identification and registration problem by implementing the Blockchain solution for self-sovereign (digital) identity. Following the ten principles of self-sovereign identity by Windley, Tykn uses DIDS (Dimensions of Identity Development Scale) as a standard for identification. For Tykn it’s very important that private data stays private. Due to this fact they make use of a public key for identity, where only mutations and verification is put on the chain.
The project with the Red Cross will be piloted soon. At the end of the summer, the solution will probably be ready and tested into a pilot at Sint Maarten.
Consumer engagement through Blockchain as the key for energy transition
Kaushik Khakhar (Toblockchain) was the second speaker and told the participants about his Blockchain solution for the energy market. Toblockchain is a Dutch blockchain information firm that developed a disruptive software platform named ‘PowerToShare’. One of the applications of this platform is the peer-to-peer energy sharing. This solution is based on blockchain and allows consumers to trade the surplus of their generated energy. You can think of privately owned solar panels for example. Right now Toblockchain is testing this idea at The Green Village (TU Delft).