Insights on the webinar: Blockchain Standardisation in the context of the EU regulatory landscape: Opportunities and Challenges

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For any developing technology, standardisation is fundamental. It ensures uniformity of certain practices and guarantees safety, interoperability and compatibility. Blockchains are being implemented in a growing number of sectors with different kinds of applications; therefore standardisation has become a necessity for the development of this technology and to promote its adoption on a larger scale.

As part of its Digital Strategy, Europe is committed to taking action and is currently working with different stakeholders to stay at the forefront of blockchain standardisation. The webinar entitled  ‘Blockchain Standardisation in the context of the EU regulatory landscape: Opportunities and Challenges’ was aimed exactly at tackling the opportunities and challenges that arise from Europe’s digital mission.

During the webinar we gathered four experts in the blockchain area to spark an animated and interactive discussion with the public. representative Fiona Delaney (CEO and technical co-founder at Origin Chain Networks) chaired the panel, and after giving some great insights on the recently-held Public Consultation, she opened the discussion by passing the floor to John O’Connor - Technology & Data Protection Partner at William Fry.

John is - as he defined himself - a ‘tech lawyer’. He talked about his role in regulating the interplay between development in the field of technology, data exploitation and financial regulation. John emphasised the critical need for regulatory frameworks, particularly concerning blockchain technology. He highlighted the European Commission's ongoing efforts in this regard, underscoring the complexities that arise at the intersection of technology and regulation.

‘There really is a huge amount in the tech and data space, which is often sector-agnostic, coming at us now, more than has ever happened in my few decades of practice’

John anticipates that challenges in this realm will resurface in the coming years, especially given the imminent regulatory developments that are poised to significantly influence the landscape.

The proximity between software developers, engineers, lawyers and policy makers is increasing, and further events will be needed like the one organised by, where experts can come together and actively discuss.

After hearing a legal perspective from John, we had the chance to hear from academia, with Lubna Luxmi (Associate professor at the University of Limerick with an expertise in cybersecurity standards) focusing on GDPR compliance over blockchain and the legal and regulatory challenges. In her perspective, while GDPR provides strong control around personal data, it is often perceived as very complicated and misunderstood.

‘GDPR has set the regulatory, territorial and material scope: namely, how data needs to be protected, implemented, and aligned. There are a few policy explanations but it’s not a 100% answer to what industries and organisations are looking for. That is where we need to build more on standards and policy.’

Lubna also touched upon harmonisation between GDPR and Blockchain, mentioning how these are similar under certain perspectives (they are both geared towards building trust and transparency), and different under others. A key point of the discussion revolved around anonymisation and pseudonymisation, contrasting GDPR (which is strongly interested in controlling the flow of personal data), and the Blockchain aspect of anonymisation and pseudonymisation (e.g., through public key cryptographic protocols).

Finally, Alexander Rapatz - Partner at Black Manta Capital Partners, talked about tokenisation and its implementation in financial industries. As Alex defined it, tokenisation is ‘packaging’:

‘We package rights and obligation attached to an asset into this token’

This innovation marks a stark departure from traditional finance, which relied on manual servicing at physical venues and predominantly physical avenues for buying and selling financial instruments. With tokenisation you can combine transfer of value and ownership. The messaging and trading is all in one token, which ultimately leads to investor protection.

The webinar ended with an interactive session where participants actively engaged with the panellists, including questions around the European Blockchain regulatory sandbox and new possible roles for emerging technical standards. The webinar represented a great chance to exchange views on a growing and fast-changing industry with new fronts opening for development, and to connect with experts in the field.

The full recording of the webinar and the slides are now available on our website here. If you’re interested in future news and events you can subscribe to our Newsletter