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"The blockchain has become mainstream"

Robin Matzke from the legal faculty at Humboldt-Universität (HU) talks about the various uses of the blockchain and its uses for society.

Robin Matzke is doing a doctorate on a topic that is directly linked with the blockchain, so-called phantom stocks. In the video he talks about the current uses of blockchains beyond Bitcoin, and what uses the technology can have and already has for society.

“Berlin is also called the crypto capital, because you could pay with Bitcoins very early on in some bars here”, explains Robin Matzke. Together with Christoph Paulus from the chair of citizens’ law, civil process and insolvency law and also Roman law, he organised the conference “blockchain, law, blockchainlaw?” In fact this was no longer about the hype of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but rather the many other options which are made possible by the blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies are basically only one potential application. “Primarily the blockchain is simply just a particularly secure data bank, because it is stored on many decentralised computers.” Robin Matzke himself is not an IT person but a lawyer. He finds it especially exciting that instantaneous interaction between people can be reconceived. He is particularly interested in the legal implications which result from this.

However, banks or even platforms such as Amazon, Facebook or AirBnB won’t become redundant, but for their part they can use blockchains themselves and control their processes more directly. A bank could then pass on the savings in transfer costs to the customers and in doing so increase overall efficiency. In many cases it will not necessary be apparent to the user whether an application is running via the blockchain or, for example with bike hire, it is based on another technology.

In addition, peers who are connected decentrally via the blockchain must still have a way of finding each other. In this respect platforms will definitely still be needed. However, a Facebook site which is based on a blockchain would no longer store every profile itself – and be able to do what it wants to with the data – instead entries uploaded would be securely stored decentrally. This type of Facebook site which is relinquishing its power already exists: It is called Akasha and everyone administers their own data; impossible to censor it.

Research data could also be stored more securely on a blockchain

So the be-all and end-all is that the central authority, which often takes itself so seriously, is no longer important. In principle money transfers can take place without a bank, and then a bank can no longer decide who can and can’t have an account. Therefore for many people a blockchain is a way to greater freedom. In the music industry this freedom could mean artists being free from middlemen and streaming services. If songs are transferred directly from the artist to the consumer, artists could even succeed without a label.

For Robin Matzke the blockchain has already become mainstream. “The blockchain is of interest even to countries whose administrative structures are not as developed as ours. For example, at our conference a business was invited which uses blockchain technology for land registry entries in India and Ghana, amongst other things. Ultimately it’s about simplifying processes and fighting corruption through security and transparency. An efficient land registry system can give a national economy an enormous boost.”

The UN Food Organisation is already transferring money or relief aid directly to the local recipient, whereas previously this had to be managed using complicated structures. In a certain sense the authority of a national state can thus become superfluous. And at the same time countries can also make good use of blockchains themselves.

In the end, individuals must decide what makes most sense. Currently the cost of linking lots of computers to a secure blockchain is still relatively high and the energy cost for operating the system is extremely high. On the other hand, as Robin Matzke reflects, nobody knows how much energy is really used for a “normal” money transfer. The servers via which online transfers are processed also use energy – particularly if more are being operated than necessary.

Author: Dr. Anne Tilkorn

Further Information


Getting started:

Website BlockchainHub

For consolidation:

Videos on the topic Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies Online Course

Videos of the conference „blockchain, law, blockchainlaw?“

The blockchain is also a topic in the economics faculty; here BLOCKCHAIN NIGHTS are organised, a monthly discussion series which promotes debates on cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and smart contracts. The aim of the Blockchain Nights is to bring together students, scientists and start-ups from the Berlin scene.


Robin Matzke
Faculty of Law

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Phone: +49 30 2093 – 3437

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Härdle
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Phone: +49 30 2093 – 5631