Last week I discussed the Dubai Blockchain ecosystem and the progress made in that space, and there was a comment from a reader pointing me to the Alastria initiative in Spain. I thought I should write about Alastria today, and how it has evolved in a short span of time into the world’s first regulated national network.
Alastria network was announced in October last year. It is a not-for-profit ecosystem comprising of over 70 Spanish firms including BBVA, Santander, Telefonica, University of Girona, University of Malaga, and the University of Valencia among others. Red Alastria is what the Blockchain Infrastructure is called and ID Alastria is their digitial identity standard.
The network will provide smart contracts function, digital Id, data security compliant with European regulations, but most importantly, a standard methodology for information to flow across all the consortium members.
As the consortium involves institutions from Banks, Universities, regulators, Technology firms, etc., a standard network based on blockchain will help developers to create apps that is consistent and inter-operable across these institutions.
“the internet is being reinvented so that we can share and do business in a verified and secure way, but it is necessary to have a standard that allows all industries and the developer community to work with the same base”
– Alex Puig, CEO, Alastria
The other key feature of this consortium is that apart from the Public-Private sector collaboration (much like Dubai), there is involvement of Universities, and more importantly the regulators. Sometimes, having too many players slows down progress, but getting the academicians and practitioners along with the innovators and regulators, feels like the right way forward.
As the initiative progresses, there are research opportunities possible (and that is part of the objective) between the public and private sector players and the universities involved. When data intensive research (by the academia) accompanies execution of a use case (by the industry), it often helps keep the industry honest about the motivations behind the use case. If research results are contradictory to what the practitioners claim, it often helps make decisions on course correction.
The focus of Alastria will also be on developing the community of the platform, as it is critical to get developers on board to achieve innovation at scale.
Over the last few years, various DLT consortiums have been formed. Financial Services has led the way in this space, and are the main focus of Blockchain consortia (as per a research by Deloitte published last year). However, this trend is likely to change with more Public and Private sector collaborations happening across the globe.
One point to think about is the purpose of having just a national network such as the Dubai and Alastria Blockchain initiatives. Shouldn’t these networks go past national boundaries?
Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Fintech thought leader and an investor.
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