Blockchain technology can be of systemic relevance, said Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP), speaking at a workshop yesterday examining blockchain technology, including bitcoin and ethereum.

“Once you have a real breakthrough, once you have a killer application, all of the sudden you could have exponential growth and issues to deal with in the sense of systemic stability,” Weizsäcker said speaking in an almost perfect British accent.

The member of EU Parliament’s committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, told the attendees that Parliament was wondering whether the government should be involved and whether it has a role to play. Specifically, he said, they were considering whether there was any need for the government or legislators to set up blockchain infrastructure that can assist private enterprise.

Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the European Parliament, stated that they need to “give control back to the people,” because this way maybe “we can re-gain some trust,” she said, speaking in the context of the banking collapse in 2008.

Vinay Gupta, who helped launch ethereum in the early days, told the attendees that he had worked with the Dubai government to integrate blockchain technology. Europe needs to catch up, he said.

Another panelist spoke about the fourth industrial revolution, something Germany and the surrounding areas have recently began tasting. Netherland’s National Grid for example has launched a pilot to integrate blockchain tech for better management of supply and demand misbalances. While Innogy, an energy giant in Germany, has integrated ethereum based blockchain payment for electric car charging stations.

Electricity is critical infrastructure, but revelations that China’s Central Bank is experimenting with setting up an ethereum based Yuan token might turn ethereum, the platform, itself into critical infrastructure which may mean governments would want to run a node.

Germany has not made any suggestions they might be thinking of digitizing their static fiat money and turn it into dynamic code, but if they thought of doing so using ethereum as a platform to build a euro token on top might make sense.

That’s because as an open source system ethereum will always be more secure and decentralized than any closed source alternative, so it may be more robust than a private blockchain which would probably have far less nodes and would have been under far less scrutiny from the best hackers in the world.

A Race?

The first country to digitize their money and turn it into dynamic code would probably gain the same advantage as the first country which laid out the railroad tracks some 200 years ago. That’s because money transfers, within and outside borders, become in effect instant, plus they become codable money.

That allows for significant automation in many areas while also giving machines the ability to hold value under strict rules which they apply based on whatever condition may be required in the situation. Opening a very new world.

A world which, as far as regulation is concerned, UK is leading. America, of course, has far more money and talent, but on the regulatory angle they have plunged into a mess following OCC’s Fintech charter freeze after states sued the OCC. Moreover, the US civil servants generally give a vibe of slight hostility towards this space.

A vibe that one could feel coming from Europe too, but it appears they may be making a complete uturn, now using a somewhat excited tone and basically seemingly asking how can we help.

China’s approach has been somewhat confusing. Its people are very entrepreneurial and have jumped at new tech, probably leading the world in terms of adoption, but the government’s tone is usually far colder than even America’s while at the same time they seemingly are experimenting at a government level with some blockchain projects and are seemingly encouraging blockchain tech.

Then there are smaller players, like Dubai, which is trying to smaritfy its city through blockchain tech and the internet of things. Japan and South Korea have recently become players too, but really, until now, the race was between USA, UK and China.

It seems Europe might be entering too, primarily Germany, the industrial powerhouse. They couldn’t have done so at a better time because the Chinese and American regulators seemingly do not know what they have, so this could become a two horse race. Just like the old times, German and Britain might once more go head to head.

Hopefully, this time they fight with code, not guns.

Featured image from European Parliament from Shutterstock.


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