The European Union took a step forward into the FinTech era by boarding the blockchain train, a new technology that is already used for independently verifying and recording transactions, and is the key system that allowed for the birth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Brussels has officially joined the governing world that is also looking at ways the blockchain technologies can be used in other applications. By moving toward the creation of a blockchain observatory and forum, the Berlaymont seeks to “play an active role in helping Europe seize new opportunities”.
Joseph Lubin, CEO of ConsenSys, a developer of blockchain applications that will work with EU officials to gather information, analyze trends, bring experts together and find new uses for the technology, and S&D MEP Jakob von Weizsäcker joined the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, for the presentation of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum – a pilot project of the European Parliament first proposed by von Weizsacker.
The new blockchain hub is intended to support the Commission’s work of FinTech.
“Europe can be at the forefront of its development,” Commissioner Gabriel told reporters in Brussels. “We have been funding blockchain projects since 2013. The total support will soon reach 100 million euros” she said.
Gabriel said blockchain projects help where peer to peer security is the number one concern of users. The My Health My Data project aims to encourage patients to share their data securely and sidestep the lucrative health data black market, which has seen prices skyrocket 10 times more than other industries with 67.7 million medical records breached since 2009.
Gabriel hopes to reverse the current trend where Europe does not have enough developers working on blockchain and leaving the EU beyond other developers.
Along with the Commission, the European Central Bank has also been looking for ways to harness the new technology. Its president Mario Draghi remains cautious about the adoption of blockchain technology in the euro area, looking for ways to secure the bloc’s payment system.
The European Commission says it plans to explore the payment system’s potential to improve cross-border European services in taxes, VAT reporting, customs, title and business registries, environmental, financial and company reports, health record management, clinical trial reports, medicine registration, and identity management.