Bo Hembæk: The EU Is Pro Blockchain

Early blockchainers were wary of regulators. Nowadays as blockchain goes mainstream to be employed in virtually every economic activity, the interest by national and international regulators to distributed ledger technologies grows. Digital Asset Life Editor-in-Chief has talked to Bo Hembæk Svensson, member to the EU Blockchain Observatory Work Group.

Q1: Bo, you are engaged in various blockchain related activities, for this interview I am mostly interested in your work with the EU Blockchain Observatory Work Group. What do you do there? 

A1: The EU Blockchain Observatory was established almost two years ago with the aim of accelerate blockchain innovation and the development of the blockchain ecosystem within the EU, and so help cement Europe’s position as a global leader in this transformative new technology. When The EU Blockchain Observatory was set up, two core working groups were established with participants form all over Europe. I participate in one of these looking into use-cases and their impacts.

Q2: Anybody can go to the website of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, and read upon its activities, but in plain words, are you regulators? Are you the ones who advice to regulators and to whom they blindly follow? 🙂 If not, what are you guys doing, what role do you play? 

A2: EU BO do not have any significant formal power, we influence through producing reports and doing workshops – so that decision makers kan create an informed opinion on this broad- and novel subject. As blockchain has the potential to transform many processes within payments, supply chains and identity there obviously is a need to shed light on the many use cases this technology stack is spawning.

Q3: The crypto community blames national governments and especially the EU for non-adoption of bitcoin. Are you the one to blame :)? On a serious note though, how much truth is these claims, in your view? 

A3: No – not at all, we all believe in free competition, and we are first and foremost trying to analyze and extrapolate in order to create informed opinions. As to eventual resistance to bitcoin and other non-state backed means of payment, this is a natural thing and healthy scepticism has never hurt anyone. We must approach these vectors-of-change such as bitcoin with critical thinking and an eye on the bigger picture.

Q4: A bit of a difficult question, can you explain us the EU blockchain policy, so that we, users, understand? Where do the borders lie currently? What is allowed and what is not? What is encouraged?

A4: It’s easy. EU is “pro blockchain” and supports many different initiatives. EU as such as no policies against blockchain, but EU also understands that this spans many areas, use cases and changes – and takes a wise approach of step-by-step adoption.

Q5: What is the current standpoint of the EU towards security tokens and other real life back digital assets, backed on blockchain? Any trends that you may have observed? 

A5: As such there is no official stance towards tokenization of assets, except of the recognition that its a huge use case that probably will transform important areas of the financial systems.

Q6: What changes are needed in the EU policies and, especially, in regulations towards such assets, in your own opinion?

A6: I believe that this has to play out in the sense that a large number of agents/stakeholders/start-up’s etc are building this new infrastructure and that regulation should evolve along with a deeper and deeper understanding of how this agent of change progresses. At the end of the day it is a matter of how the financial sector will embrace the technology stack and how fast and deep the newcomers will be able to penetrate the market. I think we all can agree that this signifies really exciting times ahead.

Q7: Does the EU support any blockchain based initiatives and how?

A7: Lots, both within the EU system as such and locally in the different countries, EU BO is an excellent example on how EU invests in creating knowledge that is is freely share it with anyone taking an interest in the subjects. EU is and will continue to be an important force behind the proliferation of the many interesting blockchain use cases.