On the 21st of June, the first conference organized by the Dutch Blockchain Coalition (DBC) took place at Rabobank HQ in Utrecht. The event brought together key people surrounding the DBC to present projects and discuss the role of the Netherlands on the global blockchain stage. The conference was very much in line with the theme ‘Blockchain for Good’ announced by the DBC at the end of 2018, which looked at the positive societal impact blockchain should have and is having. We have distilled the 3 most important and relevant takeaways to get you up to speed on the latest developments.

Want a quick refresher on blockchain? Check out how Finos founder Gui Vohringer explains blockchain to a 12-year old.

What is the DBC?

The Dutch Blockchain Coalition (DBC) is a collaboration between representatives from government, knowledge institutions and the business community. Their aim is to create a safe and reliable digital blockchain infrastructure in the Netherlands that meets the needs of the future citizen.

In partnership with ISO and the European Commission, the coalition follows a defined agenda in which it tests the technological possibilities, checks whether the technology is sufficiently in line with legislation and regulations, and spearheads research and training programs. Their 3 main focus areas are developing the vital blockchain building block: Digital Identities, paving the way for the use of blockchain and developing and realizing a Human Capital Agenda.

1 – The Dutch banking sector sees collaboration as the way forward

Rabobank, together with other large Dutch banks ABN Amro and ING, are exploring ways to leverage blockchain as a means to share information with each other for the good of society. Rabobank CEO Wiebe Draijer opened the conference calling for the continued collaboration between not only large institutions like incumbent banks, but also the SME community in the Netherlands. Blockchain is a technology which by its very nature requires parties to come together, sometimes for the first time, to talk about how to share information with each other. Co-operation is something which Rabobank has built in its DNA since day 1, being started as a bank for the Dutch agricultural cooperative, and this is very much what they bring to the table at the DBC.

One of the main potential roadblocks for collaboration are misaligned expectations, which can lead to initiatives being seen as failures even though they deliver opportunities for learning. A key metric for success will need to be how much they have learnt, not necessarily working products. It will therefore be vital for banks to adopt an ‘experimental’ mindset when approaching their collaboration initiatives, and it looks like they are off to a good start.

2 – Governance is a hot topic which is still in the beginning stages

One of the most interesting presentations of the day was from Olivier Rikken from consulting firm Axveco. Olivier has chosen to complete a doctorate in blockchain governance, and shares his findings so far in a presentation full of useful insights into the role governance plays in setting up blockchain consortia. His pragmatic no-nonsense approach urges us to first define what we mean when we say ‘governance’. The most notable distinction which Olivier made in this regard was between ‘governance of the blockchain’ and ‘governance in the blockchain’. These are two very different things, as they talk about both the governance models that exist to ensure that changes to a blockchain solution are done in a controlled manner, and that decisions reached by participants of the blockchain are done in a fair and egalitarian way. Without distinct models in place for both of these aspects of governance, it becomes challenging for organizations to create sustainable collaboration initiatives.

It seems from Olivier’s research so far, that there is no real standard in place, and projects tend to adopt a unique model that works for them. The real question will be if indeed a ‘standard governance model’ should even exist, as this might go against the very idea of free collaboration through a blockchain. What will most likely end up happening is the existence of various best practices which could help guide projects to their ultimate governance model.

3 – the Netherlands and Singapore are joining forces

The DBC announced an exciting initiative which aims to bring the Netherlands and Singapore closer together. Marloes Pomp and the DBC team successfully closed an application to the PIB program offered by the Dutch government agency RVO. Partners for international business (PIB) is a program in which Dutch companies can realize their international ambitions in a public-private partnership. The PIB helps to break down trade barriers, share knowledge among partners and customers, and influence local legislation.

In recent months a delegation of Singaporean business leaders arrived in the Netherlands, a first step in fostering the partnership between the two countries. A trip is currently being planned for a Dutch delegation to visit Singapore in the coming months. With this new partnership in place, both countries are looking to leverage shared knowledge built up in the area of blockchain, in support of local and cross-country initiatives.

In addition to the above takeaways, the conference boasted a string of pitches, which aimed to give insight into the various initiatives currently on the go at the DBC. For more information about the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, visit dutchblockchaincoalition.org.