Delft Blockchain Lab develops trust on the internet

Hundreds of guests witnessed the opening of the Delft Blockchain Lab on Thursday February 1st 2018. “We’re continuing the evolution of trust,” said scientific leader Dr Johan Pouwelse.

The blockchain team. Scientific leader Dr Johan Powelse (front row, second from the right): "Our problem is not money, nor interest in our research, but getting the right expertise on board."

With DDoS attacks on banks fresh in mind, phishing mails coming in almost daily, fake news dominating your social media, not to even mention the Dark Web, trust in the internet is a bit of an oxymoron these days. Yet, trust is exactly what this blockchain technology is all about: creating a trusted and safe environment on the internet for transactions between individuals or companies without the need of a supervising authority. Blockchain technology creates secure and decentralised marketplaces.

Besides, blockchain technology is hot. Partly fuelled by the Bitcoin craze which, after all, is the best-known application of a blockchain technology, there is great interest in the master education offered by the Delft Blockchain Lab (DBL). The maximum number of 45 students was oversubscribed by a factor of three. The opening of the DBL had to be relocated due to the large number of registrations.

Blockchain is more than bitcoin

Now, bitcoin is, in fact, a single, worldwide, decentralised bank account with public, encrypted, chained account statements (blocks) that contain all the jointly verified transactions of all the participants. Encryption allows every participant to read, but not to change his own transactions.

But blockchain is much more than bitcoin. The technology can be used for any type of transaction or contract that require trust among multiple parties. Applications that are mentioned include:

  • finance, such as mortgages and taxes;
  • logistics, tracking products and related payments in multi-organisational supply chains;
  • legal contracts, land registry, joint car ownership.

“Blockchain is a disruptive technology,” said Dr Zeki Erkin, cryptographer at DBL. “It’s going to change how things are going to be organised.”

Delft Blockchain Lab director, Professor Dick Epema, said the Lab’s activities will include research, education and outreach to external partners, both to valorise research results and to get inspiration for new topics. DBL is also member of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition.

Scientific leader, Dr Johan Pouwelse, presented DBL’s outlook for 2030: growing trust without central control; scaling up the technology to billions of users; developing a star rating system for invented technologies; and becoming a key global centre in blockchain development.

“Our problem is not money, nor interest in our research, but getting the right expertise on board,” Pouwelse explained afterwards.