How The Netherlands Is Blazing A Trail Through The Blockchain Scene
The world is abuzz about blockchain, but not all are equally up to speed when it comes to their embrace and support of this important emerging technology.
Some have focused on cracking down on potentially predatory behaviors, even at the cost of thwarting enterprises that could massively improve quality of life throughout society. But some countries have made it a point to dive head first into blockchain and show federal support and encouragement for blockchain innovation.
The Netherlands has emerged as such a leader. In fact, it launched government-supported blockchain pilot projects, and pushes for new prototypes, project implementation, and international partnerships. Partners so far include the World Bank, the United Nations, and the EU Forum.
The Netherlands also announced in May that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy created a special blockchain unit with a research agenda mainly focused on establishing if the trustless nature of blockchain is reliable, determining if blockchain is sustainable from the perspective of energy consumption, and discovering the best ways in which blockchain endeavors can be managed and governed.
“The Netherlands hosts one of the most passionate blockchain scenes in the world,” said Emanuele Francioni, Tech Lead of Dusk Foundation, a Dutch non-profit creating a blockchain-based secure communication system, to protect the freedom of speech. “Events are organized in multiple cities in the country and the turnout is great. Amsterdam, Berlin, and London form a strong co-located blockchain scene. We are seeing more homegrown projects in the Dutch space, and events are becoming more and more professional.”
“Most of the early experimentation by the government was done with multinationals through consortia, often in the permissioned [private] space,” Francioni continued. “We are starting to see the first permissionless [public] initiatives getting more public traction, which is a very exciting area that should get a lot more attention.”
Dutch ventures are also making strides when it comes to crypto exchanges. If you want to acquire cryptocurrency tokens, you need to exchange fiat currencies (like dollars or euros) for your token of choice on a crypto exchange.
Trading for and between cryptocurrencies is one of the industry’s most emerging markets, but many of the exchange options out there are very problematic: they’re slow, charge high fees, upset currency pricing, and are vulnerable to hacks.
Founded in 2014 by John Jansen, Dutch firm Deribit is a cryptocurrency exchange on which it’s possible to trade futures, options and other derivative products. The exchange keeps 95% of its bitcoin held in cold storage at all times.
“It’s amazing that the Dutch government created a special blockchain unit with the goal of not just regulating the new technology but actively looking for opportunities,” said Jansen, who comes from a background in options trading in the Amsterdam Options Exchange. “This shows a positive attitude toward this technological development which benefits the blockchain ecosystem in the Netherlands.”
“Furthermore, crypto is catching on with the Dutch people as well,” Jansen continued. “It was recently reported that in October of 2017, an estimated 135,000 Dutch people had invested in cryptocurrencies. But by February of this year, that number rose to 580,000… that’s 430% growth in five months. We have every reason to expect that number to continue to rise.”
And not just the common folk, either. “Even our royals get involved” said Plamen Nedyalkov, CEO of Zoom. “Prince Constantijn van Oranje has been attending blockchain conferences and hackathons across The Netherlands and is the chairman of StartUpFest Europe, which also works with Blockchain startups.”
Zoom is a blockchain-based hiring and work management system that shows companies’ and freelancers’ accurate work history, avoiding fraud through decentralized data hosting. It was founded in Amsterdam in 2017 by Nedyalkov. The inspiration came from the Nedyalkov family construction business, which for over 20 years built residences, hospitals and hotels, but always struggled to secure flexible, global outsourcing.
There’s no doubt that the country’s support has led to intense innovation in this burgeoning sphere already.
From the looks of things, there’s a lot more where that came from. Can Dutch regulation legislation keep up with the boom? Can crypto prices stabilize and continue to encourage growth and development? We’ll have to wait and see how these conditions turn out.