Cyberwatching.eu’s 9th webinar entitled “Blockchain: multi-application viewpoints and opportunities” was held last 19 November 2019 which focused on challenges and opportunities of blockchain technology. 

This webinar highlighted the cybersecurity and privacy multi-applications and opportunities in blockchain technology. In collaboration with the following cybersecurity R&I projects such as SOFIE, PRIViLEDGE and MyHealthMyData (MHMD) together with cyberwatching.eu legal partner, ICT Legal Consulting and European Digital SME Alliance, this webinar will be focusing on how blockchain technology can benefit the areas that the specific use cases like healthcare, finance, energy, etc.. 

Towards the end of the webinar, the speakers that presented were asked to shortly come up with the priorities and suggestions for future funding EU initiatives. Report will be provided soon.

We consolidated all the raised questions from our participants which some questions were answered by those speakers during the webinar.

I do agree that having control over our personal data is mayor global concern. However, blockchain is not a silver bullet and is not necessarily suitable for solving the problem proposed. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that maintains integrity of transactions, it is one potential building block for applications that require such integrity preserving (potentially public) ledger of certain transactions. There is no integrity question in this problem setting. The same scepticism goes about biometric authentication - in my opinion today biometric authentication is a potential extra layer of providing identity validation, but not a key mechanism for authentication/non repudiation..

- Sven Heiberg (PRIViLEDGE)

In MHMD we have implemented a blockchain-based solution allowing citizens to manage their data and select their consent options for authorising data sharing, and managing data access on the basis of user-defined rules..

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)

I don’t see specific challenges, at the best of my knowledge. If anything, blockchain can be used to implement a variety of security services, see this link.

- Sven Heiberg (PRIViLEDGE)

I do think that for many application domains there is a question of commiting potentially private data to the public ledger. If we could augment this integrity tool with mechanisms for confidentiality - it would be a step forward.

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)

Onchain storage is not a good idea even in private setting, not only for privacy and GDPR compliance, but also for avoiding performances and scalability issues. .

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)

What is published to the public blockchain, remains on the public blockchain by definition. Although Bitcoin was not originally meant to store generic data, it has been (mis)used on many occasions to provide integrity to some data not directly relevant to btc exchange. There are studies that look into this data - it's part of the Bitcoin chain and must be available to verify the chain. .

- Sven Heiberg (PRIViLEDGE)

The common challenges organisations face when implementing blockchain technology is simply caused by insufficient internal blockchain knowledge. Most companies do not understand what blockchain is, they do not understand the benefits that blockchain can provide, and they do not know how to apply this technology in their business model. Indeed, blockchain is a new technology still on the rise, most of the solutions coming up are novel, and most importantly, they are too technical to the majority of people in this industry. This is aggravated when it comes to SMEs and start-ups, the organisations simply lack technical skills, IT specialists and knowledge on blockchain technology. On top of that, experts on blockchain technology tend to become freelancers or turn to global companies, SMEs cannot compete with these companies monetary speaking. In summary, the major challenge that SMEs face when implementing blockchain in different sectors is the lack of technical skills. Certainly, blockchain technology is able to solve many issues on almost all types of industry, but organisations need to be clear on their blockchain needs so they can choose the best blockchain platform. Another obstacle that SMEs face when implementing blockchain technologies is the “interoperability” challenge. Interoperability refers to the capability to work with different interfaces. Many organisations are creating their own blockchain technology solutions and competing to give priority to their solutions, this leads to the existence of many different standards, hindering a high level of interoperability. Although the interoperability challenge is not blockchain-specific, it is a broad issue for SMEs, especially when it comes to the adaptation of new technology and software to their business model. Following that thought, although the adaptation of blockchain technologies into business models can be beneficial to SMEs, the academia has addressed in many occasions that these organisations should be sceptical while evaluating the appropriate blockchain solution to their business model. Due to the different specifications of each companies, blockchain technologies can be beneficial to some businesses and less relevant for others. In that sense, coming back to our first idea, considering SMEs lack digital technological skills, an unstructured process to adopt blockchain will most definitely end in a waste of resources for the companies, but also, finding out the correct solution for the company can result to be highly costly on top of time-consuming and resource-wasting.

- Maria Diaz-Oliver (EU DSME Alliance)

I think one challenge is ensuring interoperability across different service providers and blockchain-based architecture. Also, data interoperability is a key issue that needs to be addressed if we want to make the most out of decentralised data management architectures.

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)

In voting industry I see 2 challenges: a) publishing election audit data to blockchain in voter privacy/ballot secrecy preserving manner b) under the assumption that private permissioned technology is used - having a trustworthy quorum of blockchain nodes for an election/set of elections to avoid the trusted-third-party problem.

- Sven Heiberg (PRIViLEDGE)

Both programs have or will have calls relevant for implementing research and innovation in the blockchain space.

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)

There is an interesting call to develop a Blueprint on blockchain which aims at skills development and industry cooperation with education providers. Also, the European Commission runs DLT for social competition where blockchain start-ups which have solutions that create societal added value can participate. This gives visibility to companies that participate in the competition Regarding start-ups and SMEs, it might be interesting to look at Cascade Funding Schemes ran by other H2020 projects. You can get to network, meet the EU project community for future projects, get some financing for your ideas. There are going to be different calls for such projects concerning blockchain in this case by Block.IS and Blockpool.EU.

- Maria Diaz-Oliver (EU DSME Alliance)

The raise data volumes and the risks with it will come into play when we put data in the blockchain we have the approach that only hashes (fingerprints of data) will be put in blockchain. Also our approach is that DL and BC is used for granting access and trace of the activities. The data transport is done on the regular means so the data volume does not affect the performance.

- Priit Anton, SOFIE

In fact, the best practice is to not store any health data on the blockchain, but only metadata, information about data transactions, hash and pointers to data. The reason for doing so is twofold: on the one hand, this facilitate compliance with regulation and privacy preservation, on the other hand, iot also avoid performance and scalability issues. Replicating huge amount of data in every node participating in a blockchain for healthcare does not appear a practical solution. Health data and Personal identifier are better and more securely managed off-chain. Innovative or more efficient data storage solutions might be explored in combination with blockchain in order to maximise data availability and usability where and when needed. In MHMD we adopted this approach, creating local driver at the data controllers’ side, where data can be pre-processed and where the connection between a pointer in the blockchain and the actual data can be completed. On the blockchain we only record the proof of existence of given dataset in the network, without revealing anything else about it, including the location/provenance of the dataset. The only party that can then make the match is the relevant data controller..

- Mirko De Malde (MH-MD)


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