Digitizing Trust in Society and the Economy

Delft Blockchain Technology (DBT) is TU Delft’s initiative for research, education, and training in blockchain technology and trust in the internet.

Trust is at the core of human society and the economy—without it, people and institutions are not willing to enter into transactions of any kind with each other. In its essence, the blockchain is a technology that can benefit the digital society and the internet economy by digitizing trust among multiple interacting parties. Interest in the blockchain has exploded over the last few years. There is hardly any government or bank that is not exploring its use or setting up pilot projects.

The blockchain has become popular by the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, which is in fact a single, worldwide, decentralized bank account with public, encrypted, chained account statements (blocks) that contain all jointly verified transactions of all participants. Through encryption, every participant can only read, and use the balance of, his own transactions. However, it has been recognized that the blockchain can be used much more widely for any type of transactions or contracts that require trust among multiple parties, for instance, in finance (e.g., mortgages, taxes), logistics (e.g., tracking products and related payments in multi-organizational supply chains), and legal contracts (e.g., the land registry, joint car ownership). The blockchain can protect the privacy of the participants, and it generates trust as the information stored in it is immutable, and hence, fraud and corruption can easily be detected.

Blockchain technology has great promise for contributing to the digital society and the internet economy. TU Delft acknowledges the need for an integrated scientific perspective to address the complex problems of this technology, emphasizing the engineering, application, and societal aspects.

The mission of DBT is to strengthen the scientific basis of blockchain technology, to provide education and training in blockchain technology, and to reach out to societal and industrial partners and other stakeholders in order to support the use of blockchain technology.

The blockchain is a technology that spans the range from fundamental research through engineering prototypes to valorization in collaboration with partners in society and industry. Thus, DBT will actively pursue establishing connections with other science partners, companies, and other stakeholders. DBT participates in the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, for which it provides the scientific leadership. The homebase of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition is located on the campus to Delft University of Technology.

TU Delft is convinced that an integrated scientific perspective combined with an engineering, application-oriented, and society-oriented approach is required in order to address the complex problems of blockchain technology in a fruitful way. Such an approach can be achieved by combining the expertise in the core technology, in application areas, and in societal aspects that is present at TU Delft. The research on peer-to-peer systems and on reputation and accounting systems that has been conducted at TU Delft for more than 12 years has given TU Delft a headstart in the core technology. Information on the current blockchain activities at TU Delft can be found at http://www.blockchain-lab.org.

Director

Scientific leader

Johan Pouwelse

j.a.pouwelse@tudelft.nl