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Blockchain as a key business enabler: Italian and British perspectives

The 12th event in the Embassy of Italy’s Italy4Innovation series, held on Wednesday 4 March, focused on blockchain technology. The event was organised in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency, Tech UK, University College London and the British Embassy in Rome and was attended by academics, business figures and experts in the field.

A keynote speech was given by Professor Paolo Giudici of the University of Bolzano, who presented the Italian blockchain ecosystem. Ambassador Raffaele Trombetta gave an overview of important work that has been done on blockchain technology in Italy: a group of experts has been appointed by the Ministry of Economic Development, the same ministry has collaborated with OSCE to study the impact of blockchain technologies on start-ups and SMEs, and Italy holds the presidency of the EU Blockchain Partnership, together with Sweden and the Czech Republic.

The panel discussion was moderated by Marcello Mari, head of communications at SingularityNET. The participants were Emily Landis Walker, a consultant at Landis & Co and Fintech Worldwide; Jeffrey Peel, a blockchain specialist at the Department for International Trade; Tomaso Aste, professor of complexity science, head of the Financial Computing and Analytics Group and deputy director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Financial Computing and Analytics at UCL; Maria Grazia Vigliotti, co-founder of Sandblocks Consulting and author of The Executive Guide to BlockChain: Using Smart Contracts and Digitial Currencies in your Business; Rodger Oates, chair of the distributed ledger technology working group at Tech UK and consulting partner at TCS; and Pietro Lanza, blockchain leader at IBM Italy and general manager of IBM Intesa.

There was then a presentation of the outcomes of experiments run last year by the Ministry of Economic Development and IBM to look into the use of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) in the textile chain (the heads of the project for IBM Italy were present), with a view to optimising the Italian textile industry – a key sector in the country – and deriving lessons that can then be applied to the agri-food industry. The use of blockchain technologies heralds a step change in traceability in the manufacturing chain, from raw materials, intermediate goods and capital goods to final products.
The speakers ended by examining the potential of DLTs to facilitate the digital transition of businesses and of entire economic sectors by offering security, decentralisation, disintermediation and creation of consensus. The discussion was not limited to cryptocurrencies and cryptoactivities but also reviewed potential practical applications, including trade, public administration, legal contracts and education.

Blockchain’s impact on various production models and business set-ups makes it a truly versatile technology. DLTs are an indispensable tool for companies looking to increase added value and for the construction of a digital economy that is fair, inclusive, secure and democratic.

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