IBM and PwC join blockchain alliance for Czech Republic

11 October 2018 5 min. read

PwC and IBM are among the founding members of a new alliance for blockchain adoption in Eastern Europe. The Blockchain Connect Association/Czech Alliance will work to accelerate the use of distributed ledger technology across the Czech Republic, something which could help to battle fraud and political corruption.

Having come to prominence as the technology underpinning Bitcoin, blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, initially made its presence felt in the financial sector. Since then, the technology has made waves in the freight and logistics industry, while clients across all sectors are pressing their consultants for advice on how to exploit, or defend themselves from, its disruptive impact.

This has seen a number of projects launch across Europe, as consulting firms look to tap into this demand. A.T. Kearney and PwC recently backed French blockchain incubator Chain Accelerator, while in the Netherlands, Deloitte sired a Centre of Expertise for blockchain services. 

At the same time, local and national governments are also seeking to foster the technology, which can be used to battle fraud and secure supply chains, among many other applications. Earlier in 2018, the City of Vienna joined forces with Big Four firm EY to validate and secure the city’s Open Government Data by using blockchain technology. The OGD is an open data portal which includes data such as public transport routes, train schedules and surrounding communities’ voting results.

IBM and PwC join blockchain alliance for Czech Republic

Now, continuing this trend, professional services firms IBM – whose blockchain solutions are used by over 400 companies around the world – and PwC have entered a blockchain alliance in the Czech Republic, along with technology incubator Adel and global legal firm Squire Patton Boggs. The Blockchain Connect Association/Czech Alliance announced it is ready to accelerate the development and adoption of the distributed ledger technology in the economic and public spheres of the Czech Republic. The primary goal of the group is to change the Czech economy within the next five years with the help of blockchain, which its members believe will be essential to developing cryptocurrency solutions across the public and private sectors.

The group is also looking to underpin the digitisation of Czech civil society. In the Czech Republic, a nation of roughly 10.5 million people, corruption is considered a major issue. Corruption is thought to be widespread by a majority of the Czech public, according to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer 2013, while Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index currently ranks the country 42nd place out of 180 countries. The blockchain alliance believes that blockchain has great potential to reduce corruption, fraud, and theft thanks to its architecture that ensures transparency.

Jiri Batek, the head of IBM’s Infrastructure Division, stated, “Our ambition is not only to localise our global solutions in the Czech environment but also to find and support innovative local partners and enable their access to international markets.”

“In traditional business models, there are many entities that play different roles. They are not easily trusted, and therefore require bilateral paper-based agreements. Blockchain can easily secure trust in a streamlined and digital sphere,” suggested Petr Ložek, Managing Partner of PwC’s Czech wing, and lead partner of technology consulting at the firm.

Five key sectors

Adel co-founder Jan Lamser added, “First and foremost, our goal is to educate the public and private sectors on blockchain and crypto solutions. We want to take part in the digitisation of the entire Czech society and show the practical use cases.”

The alliance has already picked out several areas where blockchain could be implemented in its early stages. These include real estate, financial services, healthcare, automotive and the food industry. At the same time, though, the alliance is aware of the potential barriers that might slow blockchain adoption, including the lack of sufficient motivation among stakeholders.

Danica Sebestova, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, commented, “For a successful introduction of blockchain [projects] it is necessary to work with all stakeholders who want to benefit from these solutions. This is our ambition – to find optimal crypto solutions that will save time and money for our clients.”