Comparing Blockchain Ecosystem Building in the East and the West

A Unitize panel looked at two approaches to building blockchain ecosystems from the government of The Netherlands and a Singaporean accelerator program.

One of the July 8 panels from the Asian version of Unitize brought together two key participants in the promotion of blockchain technology in their respective regions.

Marloes Pomp, who works as an initiator of blockchain projects with the Dutch government, and Yi Ming Ng, who works for the Tribe Accelerator project in Singapore, compared their organisations approaches to building blockchain ecosystems.

Initial reticence, but from different sides

Pomp’s journey into the world of blockchain started in 2016 when she was inspired by Dubai’s blockchain strategy presentation. She felt that The Netherlands should consider a similar strategy, but faced initial resistance from within the government.

Ng however, came into the industry in 2017, when cryptocurrency was becoming a major bubble and initial coin offerings, or ICO, were in their heyday. He found that many corporates were fearful of blockchain because of its supposed link to the cryptocurrency market and ICO scams.

Pomp had no such reticence from the corporate sector as The Netherlands did not have a lot of crypto-companies or ICOs at the time. People instead wanted to understand how they could use the technology.

Business case revolves around the common good

Pomp convinced the Dutch government to start some pilot projects, which rapidly spread to become 35 different trials across the whole of government. The success of this led to the Ministry of Economic Affairs launching a public/private blockchain coalition in 2017.

In many cases the business case for the Dutch government centres around a common good, or the development of a common process. As Pomp says:

“The Government plays a role in this already. Blockchain is a puzzle piece to find societal solutions which we are trying to find anyway. Blockchain is an enabler.�

For example, one of the projects focused on Know Your Customer, or KYC, processes, using blockchain to standardize an identity verification solution.

Accelerating the process for scaling up

Ng has helped to raise $30 million to support 29 startups in the last year and a half. These companies have come from industries as diverse as supply chain, healthcare, finance and mobility.

Tribe takes a different approach to most accelerator programs and helps to scale up companies looking for capital from investors or corporate clients to develop blockchain technologies.

It aims to cut down the corporate timeline in order to get to the decision makers more quickly.

Keeping technologies in-house

Pomp also commented on the Singaporean government’s active investment in blockchain companies. This was something that had not been commonplace in The Netherlands.

However, she believed that the COVID-19 epidemic may be changing this, as there has been a greater awareness and desire to keep key technologies in-house, or at least within Europe.

This led to a recent investment into a blockchain company by the Dutch government, which made the press as it was such a rarity.

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