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Digital Identity Hack (Part 2): Future Potential of Blockchain

For several years, self-sovereign identity (SSI) technologies have sparked our interest at OP Lab. Earlier this year, together with partners we organized a hackathon, aiming to explore their opportunities further. This blog is the second part of a trilogy of publications where we share our experiences of the hackathon. How was the overall hackathon experience? And most importantly, what did we learn from it?

The emergence of self-sovereign identity (SSI) offers a revolutionary opportunity for innovation and growth in the financial world, with the potential to transform digital financial services, streamline transactions, and enable seamless interactions. To harness this potential, OP Lab and the EU funded Powered by Blockchain project recently held a seminar day and online hackathon to investigate the disruptive capabilities of SSI technologies and institutional decentralized finance, paving the way for a more secure, inclusive, and efficient global financial ecosystem.

During the seminar event, attendees participated in a panel discussion focused on blockchain projects and a presentation exploring self-sovereign identity. The following section will delve into the key insights and highlights that emerged from the panel discussion.

Panel Discussion on Blockchain Projects

On the event day, a panel of experts, Pekka Kaipio from OP LabJani Partanen from JoistoSandun Dasanayake from Q4US, and Rainer Koirikivi from Interjektio, shared their insights into the world of blockchain. The panel was moderated by Laura Vuorenoja from OP Lab, and the discussion centered on the challenges of blockchain projects, the lessons learned, and the potential of blockchain technology for digital identity.

Blockchain projects present unique challenges, with the panelists highlighting issues such as the complexity of the technology, regulatory hurdles, and the difficulty of building consortia. To overcome these challenges, the experts emphasized the importance of educating stakeholders about blockchain’s potential beyond cryptocurrencies and selecting the right use cases for blockchain technology.

The panelists also touched on their experiences with blockchain projects in various industries. Topics covered included the digitization of real estate trading, the facilitation of parcel information sharing across European entities, and the secure storage of document integrity and provenance. These examples demonstrated the versatility and growing importance of blockchain solutions in the modern tech and business landscape.

Pekka Kaipio, Sandun Dasanayake, Jani Partanen and Rainer Koirikivi sharing their insights on Blockchain, with Laura Vuorenoja from OP Lab (on the left) moderating the discussion.

Exploring Identity Management

One of the focal points of the discussion was digital identity management on blockchain. The panelists explored the need for decentralized identity systems to improve the scalability of blockchain networks. However, they noted that many current projects still rely on centralized identity systems or traditional public key infrastructure.

Regulatory Challenges in the Blockchain Sphere

Panelists agreed that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been one of the most significant regulatory challenges they have faced. While the GDPR aims to protect users’ privacy, it sometimes limits how blockchain can be utilized, even necessitating the removal of certain platform functionalities. In the financial sector, KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) are the most obvious challenges that need to be implemented properly.

The Importance of Open Source

Many blockchain projects are built upon open-source technologies like Hyperledger Fabric. Panelists highlighted the importance of open-source contributions in advancing blockchain technology and fostering a spirit of collaboration within the community. While not all panelists’ companies have made code contributions, they have shared knowledge and participated in meetups and user groups.

Effective Talent Sourcing

Sourcing skilled blockchain talent has proven to be difficult. Panelists revealed that growing their own talent through training and education has been the most effective strategy. Some have also turned to partnerships with startups, consultants, or other companies to fill talent gaps.

Future Prospects of Blockchain Technology

The panelists agreed that blockchain technology shows promise for the future, as it matures and becomes more widely adopted. Blockchain’s potential as an infrastructure solution for industries like finance and the emerging metaverse was also noted. However, the panelists acknowledged that regulatory challenges and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could impact the technology’s trajectory.

One Wish for Blockchain

When asked about their one wish for blockchain, panelists expressed a desire for more streamlined regulations, increased adoption, and a broader talent pool. They hope that these changes will lead to a more decentralized, fair, and trusted way for people to exchange value and information.

In conclusion, the panelists emphasized that despite its challenges, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize various industries, including finance, real estate, logistics, and digital identity management. By sharing their experiences and lessons learned, the panelists provided valuable insights to help others navigate the complex world of blockchain technology.

You can watch the full panel discussion online here.

Project and event information

OP Lab arranged the seminar day in Oulu, Finland, and the two-week online hackathon during February in collaboration with Powered by Blockchain project. Powered by Blockchain -project is a collaboration project between University of Vaasa, University of Oulu, University of Lapland and University of Applied Sciences Kajaani. Project is funded by European Social Fund.

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