Blog Article 15 May 2019
Blockchain Ireland
Blockchain Ireland
In late May, Ireland will become a hive of blockchain activity. Over seven days, events will bring together entrepreneurs, developers, corporate leaders, regulators and government services for a series of talks, workshops, networking opportunities, a hackathon, culminating in a meeting of the ISO TC307 group that will discuss standards around the emerging technology.

Ireland already hosts most of the top ten companies involved in blockchain, including Accenture, Arc-Net, Coinbase, ConsenSys, Deloitte Labs, Fidelity Labs, and Infosys. There are also state-supported academic programmes by industry, which have delivered cross-industry master’s degrees and cross-skilling opportunities.
Tying this all together, Blockchain Ireland has been launched to grow the ecosystem in Ireland. It is a non-profit, member-led organisation that includes state agencies, corporates, academics and professionals working in this field. According to the group’s chairman Brendan Bonner, chief technologist in IDA Ireland’s Technology, Consumer and Business Services division, the group began as a way to get the various players sharing information about their activity in blockchain – a kind of ‘show and tell’ with peer organisations. The likes of ConsenSys, Pramerica and IBM have been giving their time pro bono to proselytize the benefits of the technology, as well as hosting events and encouraging collaboration across all industries.
As well as industry heavyweights and large consultancies taking a closer look at blockchain, there’s a lot of activity happening among small and medium enterprises. One Irish startup, Travacoin, has developed a payment platform that uses a blockchain-based token to allow airlines handle passenger refunds and compensation in a more streamlined and cost-effective way.
EnerPort is a project investigating blockchain technology as a possible solution to help consumers use micro-trading to sell or gift solar-generated energy. The project is led by the International Energy Research Centre (IERC) in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland’s INSIGHT Centre at NUI Galway, along with companies including Systemlink Technologies, MSemicon, and Verbatm. 
Wachsman, a New York public relations agency specialising in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, set up a one-person operation in 2018 which has grown to a 50-strong Irish team at the Digital Hub, from where it has serves Europe. It has been involved in organising blockchain hackathons, as well as being founders of the BlockW group for Women in Blockchain.
In April, the AKASHA Foundation announced a new hub in Dublin to help startups that work with blockchain. The non-profit group was founded by Mihai Alisie, one of the co-founders of the blockchain and cryptocurrency Ethereum. Another of Ethereum’s co-founders, Joe Lubin, brought his blockchain development company ConsenSys to Ireland in 2018.
All of the activity in Ireland is happening against a backdrop of blockchain’s growing momentum towards the mainstream. Earlier this year, the European Commission launched the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) which it has called a “global multi-stakeholder forum”. It aims to develop a common approach to the technology for the EU.
High-profile names from the world of banking, technology, and telecoms including AB InBev, Accenture, BBVA, Barclays, IBM, Deutsche Telecom, SAP, Repsol and Telefonica are also working to develop a “predictable, transparent and trust-based” framework for blockchain.
In April, France passed a law that guarantees blockchain startups or related projects the right to open a bank account, on condition that they opt in to being regulated.
The Cloud Security Alliance, a worldwide non-profit industry group, has launched a document that outlines several use cases for blockchain or ‘distributed ledger technology’ outside of the cryptocurrency arena where the concept first took hold.
According to Bonner, there are several core components to blockchain that make it attractive for many potential use cases. It is a distributed record, which means there is no single central point on the network, and no one person or group can control it. What’s more, it is immutable: blockchain uses a strong form of encryption that means a record can’t be altered or tampered with once it’s added to a blockchain. It is a ‘trustless’ service that does not need to rely on any single entity to validate the record, but the consensus of a majority of participants.
Looking further ahead, many industry watchers expect big breakthroughs from blockchain. Cisco has forecast that up to 10 per cent of the world’s wealth will be stored using blockchain by 2027. The networking company also set a more short-term target for the technology, saying it expects the market will be worth $9.7 billion by 2021, just two years from now.

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