Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you have probably noticed Bitcoin gathering media headlines and public interest around the world. But Bitcoin is just the tip of the tech iceberg that is blockchain, the platform on which cryptocurrencies are based. Blockchain is being seen as a virtual retooling of the internet based on peer-to-peer, decentralised technology.
According to experts, in the future it will be used for more than just currency investing. In fact, blockchain could revolutionise public services such as politics, power generation, healthcare and transport.
"Behind blockchain lies the powerful idea of using decentralised networks to organise, authenticate and validated transactions between people all over the world without third-party middlemen or the friction of national borders,” said Per Håkansson, Managing Editor of Inside Blockchain.
In Latin America, Chile has been at the forefront of this disruptive technology. Tech experts gathered in Santiago, Chile for an open learning session on blockchain.
Entrepreneur Gabriel Gurovich, who attended the discussion said: “The biggest potential for a city like Santiago - which has all of the difficulties that a big city has like traffic jams and pollution - will be to rely on something which is trusted and organised by the crowd.”
Also attending was Marco Alarcón, Chief Blockchain Architect at the Santiago Stock Exchange. He’s working with IBM to implement a private blockchain to manage the trading of information at the stock exchange between securities lenders, banks, regulators and institutional clients. It will reduce the time it takes to do back-office processes by 40%.
“It’s a very exciting project for Chile. I see blockchain as an enabler of new opportunities and new businesses,” Alarcón said.
The programme will go live in May, and could eventually connect Chile’s stock market with those in Peru, Colombia and Mexico.
“I think it is a very good initiative that Allianz is exploring blockchain and other new technologies to know what the real potential these kinds of technologies have,” he said.
Another thought leader who attended the panel discussion was Guillermo Acuña, co-founder of Cumplo.com, Latin America’s leading crowd-lending platform which has issued $300m in loans since 2012. His company is beginning to implement blockchain technology.
“Why blockchain? Right now we’re only in Chile and we want to become a global company. And the only way to become a global company is to have technology that enables you to be anywhere in the world,” said Acuña.
“I think the Allianz Global Explorer programme is a very good initiative because it gathers people to talk about new and emerging technologies that are going to change how we see the world and collaborate as humans.”
Meanwhile, blockchain expert Cristobal Pereira, said the technology has the potential to transform everyday life in the future. He gave examples about how blockchain could replacing identity documents, store medical information, disrupt real estate, and prevent theft and fraud.
The event was part of Allianz’s Global Explorer Programme, a series of global and local partnerships, digital and physical activations and crowd-generated content platforms that call out to curious minds around the globe. The programme is being run alongside the FIA Formula E Championship which made its debut on the streets of Chile’s capital on Saturday 3rd February.
Per Håkansson, who moderated the discussions said: “It’s been very exciting to learn about how Santiago can be reimagined using blockchain and also looking at the future visions. It’s all about fostering the community that’s creating new applications for this technology.”