Ingo Rübe is the founder and CEO of BOTLabs GmbH, a Berlin-based start-up that develops a solution for self-determined digital identities using block chain technologies. The company was founded in January 2018 together with the minority shareholder, Burda. Ingo Rübe has created a blockchain protocol for decentralized, self-sufficient data management, which enables numerous new business models around the resource “trust”.
What is blockchain?
What is blockchain and where are the concrete applications? Blockchain is a decentralized accounting system, a continuously expandable chain of data records (blocks), which are linked together with cryptographic procedures. Each block typically contains a secure code from the previous block, a time stamp and transaction data.
“Decentralized accounting system because the proper status is documented, since many participants are involved in the accounting process. What is to be documented is initially irrelevant. What is decisive is that later transactions build on earlier transactions and confirm them as correct by proving knowledge of the earlier transactions,” Rübe noted. “This makes it impossible to manipulate the existence or content of earlier transactions without simultaneously destroying all later transactions. Other participants who have knowledge of the subsequent transactions would recognize a manipulated copy of the blockchain by the fact that it contains inconsistencies in the calculations”. This also explains what Rübe means by “trust” in connection with blockchain.
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of a central database and a blockchain, it became clear why many industries and companies are currently thinking about how they can use the blockchain technology to their advantage. “A central database is comparatively simple to administer, is cost-efficient and fast, but is also susceptible to corruption, failure and attacks from inside and outside, and is also highly undemocratic,” explained Rübe. “A blockchain, on the other hand, is resistant to corruption and attacks, is fail-safe and democratic – but is complicated to administer, expensive to operate and slow due to the necessary consensus”.
Alternative to the broken Internet
The most important applications for blockchain are – after ten years – apart from the crypto-currency Bitcoin and the advance of Facebook (Libra), applications in the area of DeFi (decentralized finance) which have remained largely unknown to the public. Nevertheless, it is already a 500-billion-dollar market, noted Ingo Rübe.
“But blockchain can become an alternative to the broken Internet,” he explained. “Then there will be a level playing field for application providers, data sovereignty for users and independence from US cloud providers.”
For in the current Internet, power is centralized. A handful of companies control the memory, computing power, identities and data of Internet participants. Cloud storage is mainly offered by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple. Only a few cloud services are therefore storing the world’s information. Facebook and Google hold our digital identities. Our personal information is stored in central profiles controlled by the companies that also control the storage. The monopoly of a few platforms has repeatedly led to criticism and the desire to take away the power of the Internet giants. This could be achieved with blockchain technology.
But, says Rübe: “First of all, the user-friendliness must be increased for a mass application. To achieve this, the blockchain community, industry and regulatory authorities must work together,” explained Rübe. Afterwards, blockchain could be an infrastructure for the next development of the Web and accumulate an even higher value than the Internet industry. A decentralized financial system could emerge, crypto currencies could become “digital gold”, stable coins would be accepted by industry and banks, and security tokens could replace stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. It all sounds futuristic, but according to Ingo Rübe’s assessment it will surely come to pass.