Ep. 150 – Bringing innovation into the Polish Financial Sector with the Blockchain Sandbox

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Blockchain Sandbox is Poland’s first business and technology platform designed to accelerate the development of innovative blockchain solutions within an isolated system that simulates real world production environment. To take us through this innovative solution we are joined by Dorota Dublanka, President of the Foundation Cyberium and Head of Human Resources at KIR along with Maciek Jędrzejczyk, Blockchain Technical Leader at IBM for Central and Eastern European Region and lead architect of the blockchain sandbox.


What is blockchain?

Dororta defines blockchain as a list of records that is stored on a wide range of computers. She also refers to blockchain as lego blocks where different participants join together to build a tower together whilst verifying each blocks added to the structure and exchanging information between each other.

Maciek’s defines blockchain as a database with a very specific data structure whereby transactions are put together into a block representing an interval of time between the recording of a previous state and the current state which is going through the approval process. Each block is cryptographically linked to previous blocks and the governance over how the data is stored on the chain is determined by the network. The network decides whether or not certain transactions are going to be included within a block or not.


State of innovation within the financial sector in Poland

Maciek states that to understand the state of innovation in the financial sector in Poland one has to go back 30 years to 1989 – 1990 when Poland transitioned to a market economy. At that time there was no digitisation and computers were virtually inexistent. The financial infrastructure was nearly all paper based. Everything had to be created from scratch which represented both a set of challenges and opportunities for Poland.

Poland had virtually no technical debt, or legacy IT infrastructure  within its financial services sector that other countries in Western Europe or in North America had. This enabled the Poles to choose the best and most flexible solution to their specific needs. As the Polish leadership and society were very curious they were also very open to innovation.

Dorota added that, Poland has a relatively high social acceptance for innovative solutions. Poland has one of the highest percentages of mobile banking and debit cards users in Europe. Because of its embracing approach to innovation, Poland has adopted a lot of the most innovative platforms for payment solutions and its IT professionals rank as some of the top 10 best in the world.


The Blockchain Sandbox

Blockchain Sandbox is here to accelerate the development of innovative blockchain solutions in Poland. They aim to demystify what is blockchain and break the view that it’s only related to cryptocurrencies. They wish to develop blockchain technology to support entrepreneurs and companies to access solutions within the sandbox.

Startups and major companies who join the sandbox with innovative ideas can leverage blockchain within the sandbox for developing their applications and business solutions. They will also receive support from the blockchain sandbox founding members.

Foundation Cyberium is the leader of the Blockchain Sandbox. The founding members are PKO Bank Polski, KIR and IBM. PKO Bank Polski is one of the biggest banks in Central and Eastern Europe who has implemented production grade blockchain solutions.

KIR is the hub of shared services for the Polish financial services sector. They build system solutions for the banking business and the government. KIR is one of the sandbox leaders and is implementing innovative solutions to the economy.

IBM is the technology partner to the Sandbox initiative. Chmury Krajowej, the national cloud operator, responsible for sustaining the IT infrastructure for mission critical applications in in Poland, is a technology provider to the initiative.

The Financial Supervisory Authority of Poland acts as a regulator to the financial sectors and reviews solutions built within the sandbox which gives participants some certainty as to whether they can introduce them into the market.

There is an obvious motivation coming from the founding members of blockchain sandbox, to leverage the best of breed blockchain protocol that is being used for businesses in order to provide a safe environment for startups and companies incubated through the sandbox to give them the best tools that are using blockchain as the core infrastructure.

The platform is based on Hyperledger Fabric. Each company that is incubated in the sandbox has access to a simulation of a real world network with a number of organisations where they can develop their applications within. They can also test the overall governance of a decentralised network, test their business solutions’ performance, privacy and confidentiality.

In addition, they will receive advisory services provided by the founding members from a legal, technological and regulatory perspective.


Benefits in joining the blockchain sandbox

Dorota listed out the benefits in joining the blockchain sandbox:

  • Isolated controlled environment
  • Latest technologies
  • Access to development resources
  • Regulatory support
  • Marketing and promotional support of startups and businesses to reach customers and investors

Maciek, listed out the benefits from an iterative process:

  • Qualification stage: each applying member is interviewed by the founding members where the use case is analysed
  • Onboarding process: the company receives an access to their instance of the sandbox where they receive all the tools they will need for the incubation process
  • Ongoing process: this is where they receive the advisory support from the founding members
  • Evaluation process: this is where they get the biggest benefit as it is the moment when their application is verified by institutions and organisations which act within a regulated market


Applying to the sandbox

Dorota stated that they are hoping to attract innovative solutions from non-profits, startups, and big and small companies. Participants don’t necessarily have to come from Poland as they’re open to receiving ones from companies around the world.

Participation in the sandbox is free of charge and no fees are incurred when using the platform. Applications can join by going to https://www.sandboxblockchain.pl/en/ and complete the application form which will be reviewed by the sandbox team. Selected candidates will be invited to join the interviewing process.


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