Ten years after the birth of the Bitcoin, the underlying technology, blockchain, hardly gets off the ground in the Netherlands. Despite the high expectations, even 85% of the serious projects remain stuck in the test phase. This appears from an inventory by de Volkskrant .
In recent years, countless Dutch start-ups, companies and government organizations have announced that they will ‘do something with blockchain’. At least 66 projects could be determined to actually experiment with the new technology. Nevertheless, only 15 percent is already used in practice. An example is Albert Heijn’s own orange juice brand. Customers can trace their origin with the help of blockchain and their smartphone.
The rest of the initiatives are about pilots or concept studies. At this moment the plug is being pulled out of one project after the other. Experts confirm that trend. On the basis of its own research, consultancy firm Berenschot estimates that at most 5 to 10 percent of all projects are developed after the exploratory phase. “These are organizations where the involvement with blockchain ultimately goes beyond a few training sessions and a theoretical exercise on paper,” says expert Sofie Berns.
This means that the Netherlands does not deviate from other countries. Throughout the world, 2018 appears to be the year in which the blockchain euphoria is giving way to sobering. “The love affair of the American business community with everything that has to do with blockchain can sometimes cool,” predicted financial press agency Bloomberg .
Blockchain is best known for the popular cryco coin Bitcoin. The idea for that was launched exactly ten years ago by the mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto. But the underlying technology has many other potential applications. A blockchain is a digital administration. Instead of one central body, it is kept up to date by all parties involved. This is particularly useful for transactions involving many different companies and institutions, such as the purchase of a house. Blockchain can also be safer. Because the information is spread over a network, instead of being stored on one server, it is difficult for hackers or other malicious parties to tamper with it.
Privacy is one of the biggest stumbling blocks. Blockchain is about spreading information about networks. Often it is sensitive information, such as financial or medical data from citizens. Although this data is encrypted, nobody can guarantee that it will not end up on the street sooner or later. This conflicts with privacy legislation. Another tricky point is that many of the current applications only have something to do with blockchain in name. They could function just as easily without this technology, but would like to join the hype.
Both large business and the Dutch government have been fully committed to the new technology in recent years. Dozens of municipalities and ministries carried out tests with blockchain networks, from the minimum policy in Zuidhorn to applying for sustainability loans in Barneveld. In addition, the government subsidizes research into this. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, for example, has set aside a quarter of a million euros for the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, a public-private partnership. The European Commission wants to pump no less than 300 million euros into blockchain by 2020.