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Blockchain is where the food industry, audit firms and capital markets meet

Pia Hurni-Schmid talking with René Mehmann

Pia: I just assumed that blockchain was something only used by young techies or nerds. You’re pretty much the exact opposite of how I imagined a blockchain specialist would look. How long have you been focusing on this topic? René: Just a little over two years. Pia: What exactly is blockchain, anyway?

René: I like Wikipedia’s definition. A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data, making it impossible to destroy or tamper with the existence or content of past transactions.
In other words, blockchain enormously improves both data security and reliability. The underlying idea is actually quite old and based on the concept of a tally stick. Blockchain represents the comeback of a proven, primitive and traceable system, yet using state-of-the-art technology.

Pia: Which aspect of blockchain technology do you find so fascinating?

René: Blockchain will impact a wide range of different markets and grow rapidly. The importance of blockchain can be clearly inferred based on the investment made by DXC. Created through a merger between CSC and the Hewlett Packard Enterprise, DXC is currently the world's leading independent, end-to-end IT services company. DXC is now investing more than USD 2 million to acquire Luxsoft, a blockchain specialist based in Zug, to gain a foothold in the new, fast-growing blockchain market and its extremely interesting industrial segments. Blockchain will give rise to new market regulations for the financial industry and prompt entirely new business models. Audit work, for example, will have to be restructured based on entirely new processes with new rules. Working in cooperation several financial institutions, the R3 consortium has launched the Corda platform, which was designed to serve as a foundation for blockchain applications on capital markets. The largest areas of application for capital markets comprise the settlement of stock market and other financial instrument transactions, issuing syndicated loans and equity financing.

Pia: Will blockchain have an impact on data centers?

René: Two aspects of data center infrastructures play a role in blockchain environments: security and decentralized data storage. With respect to the first, the use of cryptography ensures that data transmissions are extremely secure. Regarding the latter, decentralized infrastructures/systems are used to store this data in a new, secure way. These two aspects engender confidence in the system, referred to as “integrated trust”. Blockchain is a solution for parties that do not trust each other because the trust is based on these technologies. You can also compare this development with that of the food industry which makes ongoing improvements to its processes. Blockchain will make it possible for us to more precisely check, track and indicate the shelf life of items of food in the future. Blockchain could reduce the amount of food wasted. It also holds potential as a way of automating compliance with documentation obligations.

Pia: I have a report from CVVC in Zug which lists the top 50 blockchain companies in Switzerland. Together, they generate more than USD 2.2 billion in sales. I’m impressed that Swiss companies are so actively involved in the market. Tell me, please, which of the blockchain companies use the infrastructure of Green Datacenter AG!

René: We’ve gained a few blockchain customers from the Greater Zurich Area, which are also mentioned in the report. These are prominent blockchain companies who trust us. Yet this trust also means I can’t name them – not even to you! Pia: Why don’t these companies build their own infrastructures? René: They’re busy focusing on their own core business.
We’re able to cater to their needs quickly and offer customized solutions. Our experience in the area of special confidentiality requirements and process step modifications, particularly with respect to access, is enormous. We have staff on site, provide them with ongoing training and adapt rapidly to changing market conditions.

Pia: Could you give me an example?

René: One of our customers stored the source code for one of their own applications in the safe of a private cage. That safe may only be opened in the presence of three people: one board member, one C-level member of staff and one lawyer. Plus one member of our security staff and an IT specialist.
All activities are recorded on video. Being a specialist in the field, we can swiftly implement processes like this. We have a proven, extremely reliable security concept that can be tailored to meet customers’ individual needs. Our redundancy guarantees uninterrupted operation – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Plus we offer global connectivity. From our headquarters in Switzerland and with the help of our global partners, we can connect nearly any location while offering latency guarantees for nearly all global marketkplaces.

Pia: Thank you so much for the chat! 

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