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Blockchain for Europe Association: speaking with one voice

It is getting crowdy in the world of Blockchain Associations in Europe. Following the examples of The European Blockchain Partnership, The Blockchain Association of Europe, the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum, and many others, end 2018 a number of leading blockchain corporates including Ripple joined forces to create the Blockchain for Europe Association. This Association that will act as a representative for blockchain originating organizations in Europe, is aimed “to create a unified voice for the blockchain industry at [the] European level.”

Let’s have a look at its plans.

 

Who are the founding fathers?

But first of all, who are the founding fathers. The Blockchain for Europe Association is set up by blockchain corporates Ripple, NEM, EMURGO/Cardano and Fetch. These are some of the successful and influential innovators entering the third generation blockchain space.

Ripple

Everybody in the blockchain scene knows Ripple. Ripple was set up in 2012 to create a streamlined, enterprise-grade decentralized global payments platform named RippleNet, to record transactions between banks. Ripple connects banks and payment providers via RippleNet to provide one frictionless experience for sending and receiving money globally. These partners can use all the Ripple offerings including their digital asset for payments: XRP.  RippleNet has more than 200 partners including banks, payment providers and digital asset exchanges that process and provide liquidity for payments on RippleNet, creating new, competitive cross-border payments services for their customers.

“Ripple is delighted to be a founding member of Blockchain for Europe. This is a critical time for policymakers in Europe as they seek to develop the right regulatory framework to capture the benefits of both digital assets and blockchain technology.” Dan Morgan, Ripple’s Head of Regulatory Regulations,

NEM

Lesser known is NEM. NEM is an abbreviation for the “New Economy Movement”, a group proponents of blockchain technology. NEM is a third generation blockchain platform built on first and second generation versions, with an own cryptocurrency named XEM.  Designed as a Smart Asset Blockchain, NEM is specialized to be configurable to "magae existing enterprise pieces" through its API compatibility. The NEM blockchain's range of features is made available via an API Gateway Server. This drastically simplifies creation of client apps, or interfacing servers to the blockchain.

The NEM modular Smart Asset System allows users to totally customize how they use the NEM blockchain. Smart Assets can be used to create a wide variety of blockchain solutions, quickly and reliably. By using NEM’s built-in features to define their Smart Assets and connect them together, they can represent almost any system of business transactions on the blockchain with minimal development.

The blockchain itself is supported by nodes (Supernode Program) running NEM-provided software that implements NEM’s feature set and a unique consensus mechanism, named harvesting. Because the NEM validates transactions on the basis of how important a node is, this technique is called:  Proof of Importance. These ensure that NEM’s open, public blockchain can grow “without ever compromising throughput or stability”.

“There is a lack of unbiased information especially when it comes to the open and decentralised application of the technology.” “By joining forces with different stakeholders that have blockchain at the core of their business, we aim to provide insights which are not tailored to the agenda of specific organisations or stakeholders.” Kristof Van de Reck, president Europe and co-founder, NEM Foundation

Fetch.AI

And there is Fetch.AI. Founded in early 2007 they created the Fetch Smart Ledger, an entirely new ledger technology that provides the scalability necessary to support millions of transactions per second. The Smart ledger is a “decentralised digital world” in which useful economic activity can take place. This activity is performed by digital entities that are called Autonomous Economic Agents (AEAs). These AEAs can work alone, together, serially or in parallel, and they can represent humans, services, themselves, data and more.

Their economic framework allows dynamic marketplaces to be created by the AEAs, which is unique. FETCH and the AEAs that live in its world are able to adapt dynamically to deliver or receive value. AEAs connect to the world through the Fetch Open Economic Framework (OEF) which acts as “an agent’s senses”. The OEF presents a highly tailored world to each individual agent, one that is adapted specifically for it.

“We like to think of Fetch as the ultimate dating system for value providers and those that want that value: connect, and the smart ledger through the OEF will ensure that what you see is precisely what you need to see in order to do business”.

Underpinning this all is the scalable Fetch Smart Ledger which provides the network’s integrity and delivers consensus through useful proof of work. Fetch is developing the OEF and Smart Ledger to enable everyone to develop agents. By the end of April the full public test-network will be open to all, with the first version of their smart contracts and custom Virtual Machine (VM) language.

Fetch uses a unique consensus mechanism, Useful Proof of Work (uPoW). This is a mechanism for reaching consensus in the network by performing computation that delivers results that are useful either to the network itself or to individual users of the network. Fetch have built a unique consensus system to store the results of uPoW and a high-performance, machine-learning oriented virtual machine to perform the computing itself.

“The convergence of technologies like machine learning, AI and decentralised ledgers delivers the opportunity for a world where technology works more effectively for the benefit of us all.” Toby Simpson, CTO and co-founder, Fetch.AI.

Cardano/EMURGO

Cardano, similar to Ethereum, is a smart contract platform. Cardano however offers scalability and security through a layered architecture. While the Ethereum Smart contract platform is a second generation blockchain, Cardano is buidling further on that as a third generation blockchain to solve the following three elements: scalability, interoperability and sustainanbility. Cardano uses a unique consensus mechanism, Ouroboros. It is a “provably secure proof-of-stake” algorithm. Proof of stake will make the entire mining process virtual and replace miners with validators. Cardano’s first major release, named Byron, that enables users to trade and transfer Ada (their cryptocurrency), went live on September 29, 2017, which saw the launch of the Cardano main-net. Other major releases include Shelley (ensures that the tech is in place for it to become a fully decentralized and autonomous system), Goguen (will see the integration of smart contracts), Basho (centred around performance improvements), and Voltaire (IOHK will add a treasury system and governance).

Japanese company EMURGO is the official commercial and venture arm of the Cardano project. EMURGO works closely with IOHK, the technical engineering company responsible for developing Cardano, to grow Cardano’s ecosystem globally and driving the adoption of the Cardano blockchain. EMURGO thereby adds value to Ada holders by building, investing in, and advising projects or organizations that adopt Cardano’s decentralized blockchain ecosystem.

“Within the scope of EMURGO’s mission to drive the adoption of Cardano globally, we are very keen to work with the European institutions in crafting the rules and regulations which will enable blockchain technology to thrive globally, thereby expanding the impact of our third generation blockchain Cardano, all under the leadership of EU governance.” Manmeet Singh, CIO, EMURGO

 

Goals of the Blockchain for Europe Association

The Blockchain for Europe Association aims to become the first European representative body to blockchain and other decentralized technologies in Europe. The Association is set up to establish a “unified voice” for the European blockchain industry.

“The policy debate in Europe has been fragmented — with inconsistent information from those outside the blockchain sector challenging consensus within it.” NEM

The Blockchain for Europe Association is formed to promote understanding within the European Union about the potential of DLT and blockchain technology. The focus of the Association will thereby be on educating and providing insight to regulators.

Education

According to the founding fathers there is still a great lack of real understanding of this technology. So education will be a major focus of the group, and its targets are EU member state institutions. As such, the Association  has put as its goal to educate EU and member-state institutions on the “true nature and potential of distributed ledger (DLT) and blockchain technology”.


Regulation

A second focus point of Blockchain for Europe is the upcoming regulation for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. They see it as a crucial phase of building a presence within the European regulatory structure. According to the Association members, “it is important that the regulators behind the inevitable legislation” understand the ins-and-outs of the technology and what impact their decisions will have on innovation.

The work of the Association will be predominantly to provide insights to European regulators regarding the potential applications and benefits of blockchain technology. Final goal is to convince the regulators that there will come such regulation that will promote innovation in Europe and beyond. The group will thereby look for “smart” regulation that will have the best interest of blockchain technology at its core. According to the Association regulation should thereby be applications-based, not necessarily linked to the technology itself.

“We believe blockchain technology as such should not be regulated. Regulation should be technology-neutral by default so that technological development is not harmed. Probably the most important point about dealing with regulation is to bring on board companies developing this new technology so that regulators can better understand its future impact. That is also the mission of Blockchain for Europe.” Blockchain for Europe Association


Blockchain for Europe Summit

The Blockchain for Europe group has already been active. The founding fathers hosted The Blockchain for Europe summit in November 2018 in partnership with the main groups of the European Parliament. Aim was to discuss a broad range of topics regarding blockchain, cryptocurrency, and their associated regulations.

The summit brought together stakeholders from around the world who discussed and addressed blockchain’s potential for multiple sectors including transport, healthcare, governance, as well as other issues such as digital assets like cryptocurrencies and their associated regulation.  From this summit it appears (generally speaking) “that the EU is positioning itself as a cautious yet optimistic advocate of blockchain technologies”.

 

Program for 2019

The Association is “ambitiously setting out to shape the global agenda on blockchain”. Having already hosted the Blockchain for Europe Summit in November, the Association set up their agenda for 2019, thereby focusing on three priorities.

First goal is to establish themselves as a trusted stakeholder towards policymakers in the blockchain space. The second priority is educate EU and member state institutions “on the true nature and potential” of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain technologies. And third, they wish to engage in policy discussions, notably around blockchain protocol standards as well as crypto assets. But other topics surrounding blockchain will follow in the coming years.

Another focus point will be to drive their membership. Their primary constituencies are “blockchain originals. That means that the future members of the organization will be the businesses that work or originate from the DLT and blockchain space.

 

Why the Blockchain for Europe Association?

But why a new Association for Europe, when there are still so many? There are a number of added values to the existence of these various blockchain associations. First they can be “catalysts for positive change”, by addressing the blockchain agenda for their industries they represent. They can also function as a means to provide direct support for startups and educating governmental bodies and regulators.

On the other hand they mostly have not the same interest and do not speak with one voice. So this move to form Blockchain for Europe is significant. The partner companies want to address the “fragmented policy debates in Europe - with inconsistent information from those outside the blockchain sector challenging consensus within it - which surrounds and impedes blockchain business and proactivity”.

Speaking with one voice by the blockchain industry in Europe is of great importance to convince regulatory and other governmental authorities to come up with the best regulation and get the best out of this technology.

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