Lina Hediah Executive Director of Consensys UAE, “We see a lot of governments and financial institutions even industries who typically would not consider Ethereum who are now using it
Consensys is a venture production studio that builds decentralized applications and various developer end user tools for the Blockchain ecosystem. It is using the Ethereum Blockchain as its primary platform. Today Consensys is the Blockchain City Advisor for Smart Dubai Office. UNLOCK met with Lina Hediah, Consensys Executive Director in the UAE to discuss Ethereum, the role they are playing in Dubai as well as their future plans.
According the Hediah, “Blockchain is taking the world by storm and this is happening at a much faster pace than was expected, as such we believe we are in the right space at the right moment.” Consensys is pushing the Blockchain ecosystem because they believe it will revolutionize the world for the good of the planet. She explains, “Today we are the defacto public computer carrying more developers on Ethereum which is the only platform for Smart Contracts.”
As for the Ethereum platform Hediah sees a lot of activity with regards to Ethereum and crypto currencies on Ethereum. In addition there has been a lot of ICOs using Ethereum and a spike in token launches in crypto currencies and assets. Hediah notes, “We also see a lot of governments and financial institutions even industries who typically would not consider Ethereum who are now using it, this is on the increase especially after the creation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Consortium with many Fortune 500 members.” According to Hediah the Alliance has given Ethereum a push, because it has shown enterprises and governments that there is a roadmap and that the private and public Blockchain can work together. Ethereum community has admitted that there is a need to accommodate the privacy concerns of both government and financial sector. She explains, “We are working with regulators and legal entities to make the changes on the policies in order to move forward, we want to be part of it.”
With regards to regulatory concerns, Consensys team admit that there is merit to having concerns, especially when ICOs are able within minutes to raise millions of dollars so there is a need to make sure that you bring the balance between Blockchain development and regulatory concerns. When this happens regulations will relax as they test Blockchain applications in sandboxes to ensure that they have covered all the bases.
In the end Hediah believes, “the Enterprise Ethereum Consortium will actually benefit the Ethereum and entire Blockchain ecosystem, as it tears down outdated regulations and creates versions that avoid centralized hierarchies that existed previously because of market structures, power houses and central banks. With Ethereum distributed work space this will not happen and financial players will be the first to benefit from a more relaxed regulatory policy as today the intense compliance measures have burdened banks to a large extent.”
As for the question with regards to which Blockchain standard will prevail, the Consensys team is biased to Ethereum. Hediah states, “Ethereum platform is the only one that can be implemented in all three flavors, private, permission-based and public.” She adds, “Ethereum is the only Blockchain with Smart contract capability. The Ethereum Enterprise Alliance is already working to establish technology standards creating interoperable versions of Ethereum so that there is no one client fits all but different clients speaking seamlessly with each other in the background just like the internet of today.”
When it comes to Dubai and the region and the role Consensys is playing today Hediah explains, “ As mentioned we are the City Advisors for the Blockchain strategy for the city of Dubai which means we are working closely with Smart Dubai office and IBM, the strategic advisor on how to implement Blockchain in a practical yet visionary way.” Both Consensys and IBM offer complimentary views for the Blockchain city wide implementation. As Hediah explained, “We at Consensys are a startup, we look at the art of the impossible, while IBM matches that with its long standing position in the region and takes in what is practical. Both approaches will allow us to implement immediate applicable projects taking into consideration the existing platforms. So between August 2017 and the end of 2017, there will be a lot of proofs of concepts coming out, some will be sturdier than others but the various major entities in each sector will have to have some output as per the directives of the SDO ( Smart Dubai Office). 2018 will witness the production of these proofs of concepts in a holistic way.”
While the guiding light is that every governmental document will be on the Blockchain by the year 2020, there is much that can be done even after that depending on the level of enablement. As Hediah explained, “The work today is centered on what is applicable in each sector and in some instances the whole process might become completely on the Blockchain so Smart Dubai is not limiting themselves to just creating a paperless government but in many instances will go further than that and as such they are helping to build the foundations to unlock the power of Blockchain.”
When asked if the government of Dubai might later connect its Blockchain with other governmental blockchains in UAE and outside, Hediah stated, “this well could be the case as in some sectors this makes sense and we are already seeing examples of this globally, but what is noteworthy is that Dubai is ahead of the curve compared to many other governments.”
Finally the future of Consensys in the region, Hediah sees many opportunities and already Consensys have registered and opened an office in Dubai and are evaluating opportunities in Bahrain and in the UAE. Hediah stated, “First we want to succeed in Dubai as we have a sweet spot for Dubai in particular and from there we look forward to other areas in the UAE, Bahrain and elsewhere. We are already established in Singapore, India and Europe.” In addition Consensys recently launched their academy in line with Smart Dubai Office strategy of making Dubai the hub for Blockchain development. The academy in its first program will fly successful graduates to an all expenses paid 10 week training to Dubai with a possible full time job offer with Consensys.” https://academy.consensys.net/