Universiteit Leiden

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Board the Blockchain Train!

When talking about innovative technologies, Blockchain should certainly be mentioned. In the Honours Class ‘Board the Blockchain Train!’, students learn about the influence of technology on, for example, banking transactions or real estate appraisal.

‘Who believes their job will soon change drastically because of technology?’, asks attorney and guest speaker Katja van Kranenburg. All hands of the students of the Honours Class Board the Blockchain Train! shoot into the air. Following this, Van Kranenburg even dares to claim that real estate agents and notaries will soon be superfluous. The work of attorneys is already changing rapidly, notices Van Kranenburg. All because of Blockchain.

‘About to explode’

Blockchain is a database in which everyone can read and write, but you never have to doubt whether the content has been tampered with. And all of that without having a central party which controls the actions. The latter is what makes Blockchain so special. At the moment, a bank checks all financial transactions. In Blockchain, this central party is substituted with technology.

‘I will immediately give a job to the person who can explain it better than this’, assures guest speaker Oliver Rikken during his class. According to the director of the Blockchain consultancy firm AXVECO, the Blockchain-business is ‘about to explode’. More and more specialists are needed. ‘This technology will have an enormous impact on our lives!’

Smart contracts and digital IDs

Attorney Van Kranenburg is also convinced of the revolutionary changes provided by Blockchain. Based on smart contracts, technological contracts run by Blockchain, houses will soon be valued and even mortgages will be issued. The controlling party will once again be substituted for Blockchain. ‘Appraisers and bankers will then be superfluous. That’s why it’s important that many more people delve into technology and use this in their work tasks.’

Van Kranenburg also talks about the digital ID that can be made with Blockchain. You will always carry this ID with you on your smartphone, and it can only be unlocked using facial recognition. This makes sure only the rightful owner can access personal details. If you have to identify yourself in a supermarket, you can choose which details are visible. You can even choose to only show that you are above 18. Your name or date of birth will remain invisible.

Night work

The Honours Class is very popular and was quickly full. Tycho de Graaf, university lecturer and - together with Serge Gijrath (Professor, by special appointment, of telecommunications law) - initiator of the course, says: ‘The students are very motivated and interested in all the ins and outs of this new technological development.’ The students’ motivation and interest is clearly visible during the lectures of Rikken and Van Kranenburg. The class has to be cut off due to time limitations. If, however, all the remaining questions would have been asked, it would most certainly have become night work.

(Text: Lotte Middendorp)

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