Jacek Fischbach: Andrzej, it’s a great pleasure to have you on our blog. Let’s start with something big: is blockchain a MUST nowadays or just a NICE2HAVE?
Andrzej Horoszczak: “Nice2Have” mostly means we like something that we cannot afford. Many companies still see blockchain in that category, since there are not many experts who can find the right use case for blockchain and implement it. On the other hand, companies take a more favourable approach to that technology, as it is no longer identified mostly with cryptocurrencies, but with security and transparency. Introducing blockchain, even in a small part of their operations, is a great PR material for headlines.
When blockchain is today a MUST? Some regulatory requirements, such as EU’s durable medium, actually force you to use blockchain to remain compliant. Sometimes the pressure from shareholders or the board also causes companies to implement blockchain, even if it’s not really a thought through decision. We can see so many videos online telling us “Use a blockchain, doesn’t matter which one” which sometimes influence corporate thinking. The reality is that blockchain technologies vary quite a lot, and for this particular use case you MUST have blockchain capable of on-chain storage for full text of documents.
There is one strong use case for blockchain which will make it a MUST in the near future: saving money. Moving information from central servers to a distributed ledger is a simple way to reduce information management costs. The pressure to cut operational expenses will increase when the economic downturn anticipated by the economists arrives. Therefore, even if enterprises consider blockchain as a NICE2HAVE, in the next few years it will become a MUST across market sectors.
JF: What industries in Poland will be changed by blockchain in the nearest future and why?
AH: Blockchain is a technology which reduces costs and increases the level of trust. We expect that it will be implemented by businesses whose priority is to protect customers’ sensitive data and ensure they have access to said data. What is more, it is important to give customers the certainty that nothing bad may happen with their documents. That is why blockchain will likely be adapted by such sectors like banking, medical care, pharmaceutics and insurance.
JF: How do the projects conducted by Billon fit into the bigger picture of the digital transformation? Is blockchain a complete solution for them, or is it a part of something bigger?
AH: The digital transformation revolutionizes companies’ operations and their organizational architecture. Sensitive data will be processed by next-generation technologies, like blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data or neural networks. Blockchain, as you can see, is a part of this new IT architecture. If a company decides to implement blockchain and change the paradigm of data management, it will not be afraid of other new technologies.
JF: How will blockchain surprise us in the next 2-3 years? What do we not expect?
AH: Blockchain is an evolving and rapidly maturing set of technologies. End-user adoption is further dependent on regulatory & government initiatives. For instance, in 2018 the Polish Office of Consumer Protection Agency has made a far-reaching decision, demanding stronger protection of consumer information via the durable medium. The banking sector suddenly had to start looking for a solution to the durable medium problem and came across the blockchain. One thing is certain: companies need to completely revamp their IT architecture, as its centralization and galloping costs made it unsustainable. Blockchain might be the answer to their needs.
JF: While building up Billon, were you surprised by the market?
AH: Billon first started as a deep research project as far back as 2012. During that time we have experienced the bitcoin bubble and the cryptocurrency winter so it is really difficult to surprise us anymore 😊 For sure unexpected, both to us and our customers, were the changes in the regulatory environment, which eventually became the extra reason to implement blockchain. Regulators – with their interpretation of legislation and their approach for innovative solutions – will to a large extent decide how big blockchain’s impact on the market will be.