How the Triple Helix supports Blockchain in Government

Peter Verkoulen, Dutch Blockchain Coalition
BLING Mid-term magazine article
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The Dutch Blockchain Coalition (DBC) is a triple helix organization, in which governments, knowledge institutions, and industry work together to boost the ecosystem for distributed ledger technologies. Peter Verkoulen introduces their ‘Compliance by Design’ approach to use case development.

Peter Verkoulen has been the coalition manager of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition since September 2019. BLING had the opportunity to interview the new CEO and hear his vision of creating a Blockchain ecosystem in the Netherlands.

What is the Dutch Blockchain coalition?

The Dutch Blockchain Coalition (DBC) is a triple helix organization, in which governments, knowledge institutions, and industry work together to boost the ecosystem for distributed ledger technologies. We do this by working together with our partners to develop Blockchain use cases, to develop Blockchain-talent in the Netherlands, to investigate the possibilities for Blockchain-based technologies, and to assess the impact of legislation on these use cases.

DBC’s #BlockchainForGood mission is to advance reliable, robust and socially accepted blockchain applications; to create the best possible conditions to allow blockchain applications to arise; and to utilise blockchain as a source of trust, welfare, prosperity and security for citizens, companies, institutions and government bodies. For this mission, the DBC is mainly a catalyst and facilitator that activates and connects within a broad public-private network, with connections to the international blockchain ecosystem. Talent development is a very important specific activity, as part of DBC’s Human Capital agenda.

What is your interest in Blockchain?

I’m attracted to the idea behind blockchain: because blockchain is based on the decentralization of trust, it enables self-determination. It is all about digital ecosystems and subcultures which act in socially responsible ways. This makes Blockchain relevant: it promises to provide real added value to our society in a tech-savvy way. Besides the ideology, the blockchain technology is interesting: it is able to efficiently share sensitive data in a safe, privacy-preserving and decentralized way. This creates many possibilities for great new use cases.

An example of a DBC use case like this is an international blockchain-based system to register diploma’s and other HR credentials. Students who would like to study abroad often face the challenge of proving they have obtained particular certificates or qualifications. Employees often have to prove that they have obtained certain diploma’s and certificates before they can start in a new job, inside or outside their current employer. Together with the Dutch department in charge of education (DUO), part of the Dutch Ministry of Education, and an open consortium of large employers led by Rabobank, the DBC initiated a Blockchain based solution in which diploma’s and micro-credentials are registered and linked to students and employees. The individual themselves can decide (through using self-sovereign identity) who may have access to their information and can easily share this (efficiency) with the relevant organisations. This use case has been piloted extensively and is now ready to be implemented.

In contrast to what we sometimes see in other parts of the world, the DBC focusses on “Blockchain for Good”: applying Blockchain-technology to resolve certain societal and economic challenges. We are not particularly interested in developing Blockchain use-cases “for money” or “for control”.

What is the current status of Blockchain?

The Blockchain-hype is over, but that does not mean that Blockchain as a technology has failed. On the contrary, we see more and more practical applications of the technology in business and society. No longer do we see Blockchain as a hammer and we are looking around for a project that can use the hammer, but the hammer has been incorporated in our digital toolbox.

Blockchain is becoming business as usual, and is now one of our standard solutions to deal with problems. This is where the DBC is working: it is time to show what role Blockchain can play as a tool in an organisation’s toolboxes. Also the sense of urgency for developing and deploying use-cases is increasing due to the COVID-19 crisis – which is forcing us to think about non-centralized ways to deal with crucial processes in our society.

The blockchain ideas we are seeing now are no longer just experiments or proof of concepts, but blockchain is on the verge of being implemented in large use cases. For example, subsidies (economic aid) are important to develop certain sections of our societies.

Unfortunately the associated application procedures are complicated, and there is some potential for fraud. The use case DBC is developing with the Dutch Ministry of Finance (amongst others) in this context is called ‘Compliance by Design’, and it shows how this process can be organized in a much more efficient and effective way. In the use-case the grant is programmed in such a way (compliance by design) that it can only be used for certain pre-set goals. This initiative will be further developed in other related use cases because this idea can be implemented for many other products and processes as well. For example it is now being used to support the application process of various COVID-19 support grants in the Netherlands.More examples of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition’s use cases can be found on the DBC’s website.

Is Blockchain of added value for government?

The role government plays in the DBC triple helix setting is unique. Often, authorities function as the central or controlling party. Blockchain demands the decentralization of data of the central party and puts this into the hands of the users. Blockchain also requires cooperation between different parties. In many of our cooperation-chains we see governmental organizations in crucial positions – such as the owners of data. Therefore it is so great to see that the Dutch government organizations are playing an active role in the development of Blockchain-networks, because they then become an active part of the chain – instead of staying passively outside. Examples in which governments are part of these blockchains are Compliance by Design in regulating subsidies, diploma’s or pensions. These examples are already tested or implemented in the Netherlands, and governments play different roles – such as a participant or as initiator. The Dutch Blockchain Coalition and I hope to see many more of these initiatives.

For more information on the Dutch Blockchain Coalition visit: