“The standardisation of blockchain technology will allow the industry to exercise compliance, remove fragmentation and build consumer trust through a proven way of implementation.” Those were the words that Fabrizia Benini from the European Commission, kicked off the 4th edition of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA)’s Joining Forces for Blockchain Standardisation event with, on Tuesday 5 December 2023.

The digital event, consisting of a series of panels, fireside chats and presentations, brought together blockchain industry leaders from across the world, to address progress and ongoing challenges while highlighting the critical role of harmonised global standards in ensuring the widespread success of blockchain technology.

​The first panel was around the current state of digital and cryptographic asset standardisation and highlighted that the unsynchronised standardisation in the world is leading to parallel standards being built without any communication between key stakeholders.

​Chaals Nevile from the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) said, “standardisation is what drives innovation, regulation is a powerful driver to ensure that clear standards are developed, continue to evolve and actually solve real-world problems.”

​Daniel Coheur, Co-Founder of Tokeny, went on to add the importance of ensuring ‘standards are practical to use and are driven by a community.’ He also pointed out that “technical standards should not prevail over regulation, there must be communication within the ecosystem to make sure that we are not building something that is already obsolete.”

​The next panel explored use case specific standardisation, in which all panellists were asked what they would like to see happen within the industry – and the answers echoed one another. Belén Suárez, CEN CENELEC and Joel Curado, Managing Director at CasperLabs, said they hope to see trust and governance that can help to improve stakeholder adoption, business continuity and resiliency.

​In the afternoon, the conversation shifted towards interoperability, with a panel focused on  the state of interoperability standardisation. Moderated by own very own Head of Innovation, Luke Riley, the panel kicked off by exploring where we‘re at with interoperability. Rafael Belchior, Senior Blockchain Engineer at Blockdaemon, believes that “we’ve seen great development on both semantic and technical layers, but even though the industry has semantic interoperability, they are not formally standardised – this is what creates fragmentation.” The solution, in his opinion, is to “have formalised standardisation that can be used by most protocols.”

​Luke delved into this topic further, asking the panel if they believe that the lack of completed technical standards reflects a lack of maturity in the adoption of interoperability. Pierre Marro from the European Commission emphasised the importance of adhering to a widely adopted standard. He added, “we have a way to go, but if we want to progress to a new world, where decentralised technology plays a central role, we need to progress interoperability.”

​One of the final panels, looking at where DLT standards should go next, brought together Monique Bachner from the INATBA and Thomas Hardjono from MIT, to discuss whether we should develop standards for policy expression that are be machine readable. Thomas Hardjono is in favour of this, as it will help to combat the complaints coming from regulators and “close the gap between the language and concepts used by policy makers and developers.” He added, “we should look at developing a syntax language that allows regulators to express rules in a language that is humanly readable and consistent – from there it can be expressed into a blockchain-specific implementation.”

​The closing remarks led by Ricardo Simoes from the INATBA provided a perfect synopsis of the topics covered during the course of the day. He concluded, “the industry needs to accelerate the development of standards, whilst ensuring there is true communication and collaboration that will help to build trust and enable interoperability – we will continue to build this ecosystem one block at a time.”

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“If we want to progress to a new world, where decentralised technology plays a central role, we need to progress interoperability.”

Pierre Marro
European Commission
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