Director of Business Development
Director of Business Development
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IF: Hei og velkommen til Lørn.tech. Jeg er Ida Faldbakken og dagens tema er blockchain. Gjesten min er Wilfried Pimenta fra selskapet Iota. Velkommen. Tell us about yourself, your background and why you thought that blockchain technology was fascinating.
WP: I originally come from France, and I’m an alumni from NTNU. I have my whole career in cleantech, clean energy. That journey brought me from centralised energy solutions, even in the oil and gas sector initially. During the process I’ve been working on decentralised energy systems. I went from large hydropower or large offshore wind farms to eventually solar power. Eventually talking about solar panels on rooftops. This sentralsation from the hardware perspective in the energy system is being catalyzed now by going digital. My foot into the world of blockchain is associated with that pathway. Because technology like blockchain accelerate this smart destranaltison. It’s about conceptual, but by going digital and tapping into technology like blockchain you enable the whole energy system to be more efficient by utilising for example solar energy from rooftops and helping the energy system to be decentralized.
IF: What is blockchain? You say terms like decentralised and from decentralised. You’re connecting that to hardware. If we start with blockchain, what is blockchain?
WP: Blockchain is one category of a broader technology which is distributed ledger technology. The industry got into looking at blockchain from bitcoin which was the very first use case. They looked at tapping into blockchain and bitcoin as a way to decentralise what the banks are providing. So today, when I need to send you money, I go to the bank because they hold the ledger and they’re the source of truth.
IF: The bank is a decentralised function.
WP: They’re the middleman. Their purpose is to be the trusted layer. So what bitcoin came up with is the idea that we don’t necessarily need to have this middleman and all the associated cost we can actually trust each other by tapping into decentralized network of computers. What blockchain is a network of computers that are sort of synced about a version of the truth, they have the same copy of the ledger that used to be at the bank. They have it on all of those computers, so they have the same understanding of what is the reality. And because it’s stored in so many different computers it’s not possible to hack. There is a consensus mechanism to validate transaction and you would need to hack the system you need to compromise all of those ledger across all of the computers. That is basically not possible because of the energy required to do so.
IF: The cryptocurrency, the bitcoin, which is a cryptocurrency and one out of many that was made because of blockchain. Distributed ledger network of technologies make it possible for me to send you my chosen cryptocurrency without going through the bank which is over the network.
WP: That’s one way to understand it and make the link to value transfer. A lot of people refer to blockchain as the internet of value. Some people say the value is not necessarily money. It’s going to be a trust layer. This is a story about internet of trust. People often refer to blockchain as a internet of trust, meaning we don’t need to go through middlemen anymore. We can trust each other in a peer-to-peer fashion.
IF: It opens up a lot of possibilities. Iora has grabbed some of those possibilities. You have previously talked about connecting hardware to this technology of blockchain and the transactions in a more decentralised way. How can you simply explain that to me?
WP: We do not necessarily focus on bitcoin and this sort of money transfer from peer to peer sort of associated friction that we see in the market. The whole project of Iota was built to prepare the connected economy. As we go forward everyone talks about industry 4.0, the game change impact of internet of things and this could mean that the future will take the shape for example of self driving vehicles going into the city with nobody driving it. And that we will need to pay for electricity charging, for parking, for tollgates. We need to equip this device, the connected agent, the vehicle with the ability to pay for example. What we work with is to make this happen and enable the internet of things and connect the device in that case self driving vehicle to be able to trade with another item.
IF: Internet of things, could you give us a simple example of what internet of things is?
WP: It’s various versions of internet of things. But if we want to simplify it we can say it is any sort of object that is connected to internet. That means we have an ability to digitalise the physical space. Your home, your washing machine will be connected to internet.
IF: I can turn it on on my app.
WP: Exactly. That’s very interesting because you build a lot of seamless experience, value for the user, but gives also a lot of analytics. That as we know is the new fuel for value creation. All the companies is looking into transforming even their assets or interservices. Instead of selling you a washing machine, people will seek to sell you service. But in order to be able to do that they need to understand the consumer, the relationship you have with their products and then they will look into new business models. For instance I will rent or lease you the washing machine instead of making you pay up front for the whole cost. This is fueling a lot of new business model potential. Very much data driven and the internet of things in that case is very useful because it enables this visibility around access to data and eventually the modernisation of data. When we look back at the example of self driven vehicles, it’s not only about sharing data, it’s about enabling those products and objects to pay one another. That’s what we do at the Iota foundation. We build trust in the data, that’s the first thing, to address security issues, privacy issues, data and technology issues, meaning that you need to be able to trust the data when you receive it. And once we have this we can look at how look at how do we monetize. This is where we introduce an add on in our technology stack which is cryptocurrency. And that cryptocurrency is very special because it overcomes many problems for instance bitcoin or conventional blockchain. For the internet of things you need to have a sort of ability to pay that is seamless, that has negligible cost associated with that. Because you want to have (?) sharing mini package of data. We have created Iota in order to enable this to happen. Our cryptocurrency enables zero fees transactions. There’s no cost associated with sending money from one sensor to another in our technology.
IF: Let’s say you and I are neighbours, and my house I have solar cellar panels and your house has it too, I’m in the shade the whole week and you have a lot energy. Then you see that I don’t have any energy and electricity, could your solar cellar panels send energy to my solar cellar panels and make the payment transactions between our two houses without me having to do anything?
WP: That’s a good example and very relevant. I can bring this into the Norwegian context. We’re kicking off this next week in Trondheim, a European funded project and a horizon 2020 project with seven smart cities and 32 partners. In there you’ve NTNU, city of Trondheim, ABB, a lot of companies. We’re going to create positive energy districts. So providing ability for districts in the smart city to energy efficient. Because now you’ve solar panels on the rooftops, you may have batteries and you also have electric vehicles going around the districts. All this can work in harmony in a peer-to-peer fashion meaning that the solar panel from the rooftop of a building will be able to be sold directly to an electric vehicle for instance.
IF: What would me and you do? Would we be outside drinking wine?
WP: Yeah, the beautiful thing is that this will provide a seamless experience. I can give you a very specific example since this is already happening. We have a consumption of great companies from the Netherlands, they all came together in a mobility consumption. They have created Iota’s world's first smart charger. That charger accept payments from those electric vehicles I was mentioned earlier in a seamless way. That means you don’t need as an individual to be pre identified as a customer because the vehicle has the ability to pay for the charger as a stream because now we allow zero fee payments. Micro transactions are now possible. The machines enact humans have an ability to pay as a stream. It’s a very new notion, but it allows a seamless experience. The vehicle will pay for electricity, the electricity will go in return when you take the cable out the transaction stops and everybody is happy. In that transaction you didn’t need to know who was Ida or whether you were actually a customer of the smart charger. That will provide a brilliant experience in a smart city concept because we don’t need to a client in a database. Most databases do not communicate to each other and that is creating a lot of friction and painful experience for us just starting with managing your password.
IF: We’re now having an opportunity because of blockchain that our hardware devices, for example my washing machine or in the future a self driving car in a smart city or my solar panels, to pay each other seamlessly. And they can pay each other without me being involved or leaving my identification. Can you simplify for the listeners what that would like for their life in five years?
WP: The nature of Iota and their innovation comes into three big buckets. One is called the machine to machin economy, allowing the machine to pay one another. it’s a bit hard to comprehend. For citizens it’s two layers. One is what we call smart sharing economy. So everybody understand the sharing economy, you have a vehicle, I don’t need to pay this vehicle anymore because I’m going to share it as a community and with us as neighbours. We’re going to share the vehicle.
IF: For example AirBnb and these types of things that we already know of that plattform of sharing economy. Then now, it’s becoming smart because the things are doing it for us.
WP: In Oslo we already Bilkollektiv. Take Bilkollektiv in the digital rim equipt with Iota that helps to track all of those transactions about who comes in, and you pay instantly for the vehicle that then pays for tolls. Everything is sort of real time settlement. That new model is something that a lot of automotive industry also is looking at because we’re not going to by their vehicles any more. Communities are their future clients.
IF: I’m going to not need my driver licence because the car is autonomous, I don’t have to work that much because my car actually pay my bills and my solar panels. We can hang around, being creative and innovation and relax because the things does the tractions for us.
WP: Smart sharing economy will enable us to have a better lifetime at a less cost to individuals and societies. That’s what the sharing economy is and by bridging it to IOT becomes a smart sharing economy, so then we can bring the new technologies to self driving vehicles, you’re home can be following the same purpose. Actually any sort of object that has a sort of IOT component in them.
IF: It sounds like a future where we can put the focus on us, on the human beings, and we have more time to be creative and live seamlessly together with the technology helping and surrounding us.
WP: There is a bit more to it and the listeners can follow it up afterwards. There is something very essential and many companies have launched the pain we’re trying to resolve that’s related to GDPR. GDPR seems to be a pain to many organisations, it’s related to privacy issues and that’s what we’re figuring out. Our technology can be applied to only to the internet of things, but to help individuals regain control of their personal data in this connecting rim. This is a giant pocket of opportunity that actually catalyze a lot of innovation already into our ecosystem.
IF: Amazing. Thank you for being part of Lørn.Tech.
What is the most important thing you do at your work?
We develop for and together with the industry, an open-source distributed ledger technology beyond conventional blockchain. It is aimed at serving as a backbone for the Internet of things economy.
What are the central concepts in your tech?
Blockchain is only one type of distributed ledger technology and is a very hyped term. The EU commission now understands this and is changing its wording accordingly.
Why is it exciting?
The industry 4.0 revolution provides a great opportunity for value creation. We extend this opportunity through the Internet of things economy, where billions of devices will share secure information and be able to trade with one another in a seamless fashion. Countless new business models are possible, which we explore together in a growing ecosystem of innovators and organizations.
What do you think are the relevant controversies?
IOTA is entirely dedicated to enabling industrial value creation. Without the involvement of industry, we would not exist. The drivers are very solid around IoT, yet many people, including leaders, mix up everything associated with DLT and blockchain to Bitcoin. The tech is different, its purpose is completely different, and its ecosystem is of course completely different.
Your favorite project?
IOTA Data marketplace.
Your other favorite examples, internationally and nationally?
Data Confidence Fabric with Dell Technologies and work Alpha Venturi AS is conducting from Norway in the smart energy marketplace field.
What do we do particularly well in Norway or in your country?
Norway is an awesome testbed. Highly digital and high willingness to pay and living lab. We’re just pretty bad at marketing this and in general, we do not see future gains as problems worth solving which innovation depends on.
A favorite future quote?
Blockchain is a buzzword, talk about DLT.