How do we turn the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area into a Blockchain hub? That is what the Amsterdam Economic Board is researching together with the City of Amsterdam and StartupAmsterdam through a series of 6 meetups. Because Blockchain could be an important part of the solutions for the six urban challenges of our metropolis. The first meeting tried to find an answer to the question: "How do we ensure more adoption of Blockchain technology now that the hype seems to be over?
On December 11, 20 Blockchain experts from corporates, startups and scale-ups met in the Magna Plaza for the first Amsterdam Blockchain City meetup. This meetup was a deepening of the orientation session that took place last October, where interactive ways were sought to strengthen the blockchain community of the Amsterdam region.
The central question of this evening was the adoption rate of Blockchain. Willem Koeman, Challenge Lead Digital Connectivity kicked off with a short presentation and mentioned: “Blockchain and especially bitcoin have been hyped in recent years, but this hype seems to be over now. How do we, especially now, ensure that the technology’s adoption is guaranteed? “
The participants split into 3 small groups for a one-hour brainstorming session. First they looked at the S-Curve, also called the innovation theory of Rogers, which can be used to indicate at what stage the adoption of a certain technology is located. Artificial Intelligence, sometimes mentioned in the same breath as Blockchain, is much further on the S-Curve, because the origin of this technology can be traced back to the 1940s. Blockchain, on the other hand, celebrates its 10th anniversary on 3 January 2019. The conclusion was therefore that Blockchain is still located in the innovators or early adopters stage. One argument for this was that people working in the Tech sector are now well aware of the difference between Blockchain and Bitcoin, but people outside the Tech ecosystem still fail to see the difference between the two.
Communities of Practice
Given the early phase of adoption we are in, it is important to ensure the right incentives that could accelerate the technology’s adoption. For example, a large corporate indicated not wanting to be a frontrunner when it comes to applying Blockchain. This particular company would rather wait until other companies find working models. Starting a pilot together with another corporate could however be interesting. A Community of Practice, initiated by the Board or the City, could offer a solution for companies and organisations to exchange best practices and ideas.
Fables and facts
There’s a lot of fables about Blockchain. It is important to keep those away, and to make the facts about Blockchain clear. Providing concrete examples of use cases and explaing when it can or cannot be useful to use Blockchain technology could help.
In addition, many Blockchain initiatives and startups are now faced with regulatory issues. So-called regulatory sandboxes offer a solution for this. In such a “sandbox” FinTech startups and other innovators are provided with a space to perform live experiments in a controlled environment. As a result, financial regulations can be adapted more quickly to rapidly growing FinTech companies. This model is already offered by the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). The City could investigate the possibilities for developing its own regulatory sandbox.
A Blockchain liaison
As was stated during the previous session, many of the necessary components for the creation of a close-knit Blockchain community are already present in the region, but the community is still very fragmented. A solution for establishing the right connections between the co-working spaces, government pilots, corporates and startups active in Blockchain could well be executed by a blockchain liaison, appointed by the City. A physical place where parties interested in Blockchain can meet each other is a must too. In addition, a Startup in Residence program at the City, aimed at Blockchain applications, can also contribute to an acceleration of the adoption.
Conclusion and next steps
A plenary share of ideas and summary closed the first meetup. A strengthening of the current community, by providing the right information and use cases, positive incentives, fewer bumps in the road in terms of regulations, knowledge sharing between Blockchain companies and the appointment of a Blockchain liaison can lead to more Blockchain adoption across a wide variety of organisations.
In the coming months we will look into translating these ideas into concrete initiatives. But first it was time for some networking drinks, where the necessary connections were already made. Step by step we’re getting closer to a close-knit Amsterdam Blockchain Community!
The next session will take place in Q1 2019 and will focus on Blockchain education. Do you want to be there or do you have other ideas or input for our follow-up sessions? Let us know.