An interview with Richard Kastelein, Founder, Blockchain News

Today when the Ransomeware WannaCry has created a global havoc, people have started questioning the defence systems and firewalls that internet provide. Since cyber criminals are becoming extremely intelligent in getting new ways to infiltrate, experts are constantly hunting for a new technology that is more agile than the attackers. And blockchain is the most promising of them all!

Trescon got in touch with Richard Kastelein, a blockchain expert and the speaker at World Blockchain Summit happening on 24-25 October 2017 in Dubai, UAE. Mr Richard is a publisher of Blockchain News and is currently interim Chief Marketing Officer for Blockchain Humanitarian startup Humaniq. He is the founder of ICO design and architecture firm Cryptoalchemy and co-founder of education company Blockchain Partners.

1. What can we expect from blockchain in 2017? Should we take blockchain into account in our 3-5 year technology plans to avoid regret spend?

For 2017, blockchain is still in the proof of concept phase. From my perspective, 2018 is when we will see initial adoption in some sectors. By 2020, wide-spread adoption will be the norm.

Any industry or firm that does not have a blockchain strategy will find themselves replaced. The disruptive impact of blockchain will affect all industries, from the financial, to the legal and insurance heathcare and medical, and most importantly to the supply chain. Any senior management team that does not investigate and develop a strategic plan, as it relates to blockchain, is not serving their owners. Companies that do not take blockchain into account will be companies that will soon be out of business.

2. What industries do you see the blockchain disrupting? Are there opportunities for blockchain technologies to reduce cost or improve customer service for these industries?

Initially it will be the financial sector. The costs are immediate and sizable. The number of participants are more manageable (as compared to the supply chain).

As for the industries that will not be impacted… that would clearly be ALL industries. Irrespective of the industry, the use of blockchain for payments, asset ownership, transfers and legal agreements will impact everything they do. These impacts will be seen in reduced costs, better tracking of assets, quicker and verifiable payments, better understanding of the supply chain.

The impact on customer service is also expected to be large. Knowing the current status of a problem and clearing seeing where a solution resides in the delivery cycle will make things much more transparent for every industry.

3. How do you think Dubai government will be able to deal with loopholes (if any) and educating people about blockchain?

The Dubai government has a unique opportunity to develop strategies and regulations that will insure that the integrity of any blockchains are maintained. Adopting and implementing government to citizen blockchains will provide an immutable dataset that can manage and many aspects of the society in the UAE.

Education of people about blockchain is best thought of in three different manners.
The Dubai government has a unique opportunity to develop strategies and regulations that will insure that the integrity of any blockchains are maintained. Adopting and implementing government to citizen blockchains will provide an immutable dataset that can manage and many aspects of the society in the UAE.

Education of people about blockchain is best thought of in three different manners.

1) Stakeholders (either government or business): These individuals need to have a clear understanding of what the capabilities of blockchain are. They need to have a working understanding of its capabilities. They need to be familiar with the strategic concepts to formulate tactical approaches to their individual needs.

2) Developers: These are the skilled professionals who will actually develop the code for blockchain. They need to be familiar with the government and industry processes so that development of the products align with stakeholder’s vision.

3) Users: Blockchain education for these people is valuable, but less important. Just like a person does not need to understand how a smartphone works, they do need to know what its capabilities are as they use it in a daily basis. They just want it to work.

4. Name the top five reasons why other GCC countries should follow Dubai in Blockchain implementation

Dubai has always been a leader in adopting new innovation and strategic approaches. The reason why other GCC countries should follow Dubai’s lead are:

1) Dubai has already started to assemble the expertise for world-class blockchain implementation.
2) Dubai has the necessary technical infrastructure in place that other GCC’s can build on
3) Dubai’s leadership in this area is already established.
4) No need to replicate and duplicate what has already been done.
5) Dubai has the necessary strategic relationships in place for wide-spread adoption of this technology.

5. We are at a point in time where people are concerned if blockchain is meant for them. What do you think can be the drivers for adoption for the businesses who wants to rope in blockchain?

As defined by the segmenting of people in my answer to question 3:

Stakeholders should already have a well-developed understanding of blockchain and its impact on their business/government. If they do not already, they need to aggressively formulate plans and approaches with respect to the value of blockchain.

Development teams should be aggressively formed to quickly respond to this disruptive technology. This is not a technology that will tolerate a slow approach. That does not preclude advancements in the technology, rather, slow adoption will mean a loss of power in the creation and adoption.

The primary drivers for business adoption will be (initially) via financial products. Payments and transfer of assets will provide cost savings that is measurable.

6. What is the issue with countries not implementing blockchain? Is it the technology or the acceptance of the technology? What smart advice would you give to start-ups who are working on it?

The issues surrounding any implementation of blockchain is specifically related to the network effect – how many and who are using it. It becomes a domino adoption process once major players adopt it. Otherwise, it starts to exclude those players who have not adopted the technology. As more and more countries and companies move to the blockchain, the more it REQUIRES others to adopt the technology.

We are already in the information age, adoption of technology is pretty much accepted as inevitable.

The smart advise i would give start-ups is: Forget about coming up with the latest wallet or client. 99% of those firms will fail. Focus on providing useful skills and development capabilities to large sectors. There are few successful race car designers, however, there are many successful firms that supply the engines, the tires, the frames, the safety features that make up a beautiful race car.

7. Tell us about your session on ‘World Blockchain Summit’. How this can be instrumental in creating a comprehensive blockchain roadmap for our attendees?

For my session, I would want to focus on the impact of blockchain. It is currently a ripple, but is soon to be a tsunami. Educating stakeholder and developers is paramount to the speed and success of blockchain implementation. Industry leaders will cement their powerful positions by having strategic and tactical plans to develop and implement blockchain in every aspect of business and society.

8. What are your expectations from the summit and what possible key takeaways are you looking at?

I would like to see that the World Blockchain Summit focuses on the strategic (disruptive) impact that blockchain is making in the world. I have been at too many ‘blockchain conferences’ that have been product demo’s. While interesting, these conferences are not creating though-leadership for their attendees. I would like the World Blockchain Summit to become one of the premier conferences on the impact, direction and adoption of blockchain globally.

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