Enterprise Blockchain, CBDC, and R3: An Interview by Bloomberg TV with INDUSTRIA Business Operation Manager Kalina Tonkovska

This article has been adapted from the Bulgarian Bloomberg TV show “The World Is Business”’s interview with Kalina Tonkovska, originally published on June 3rd.

A still from Kalina Tonkovska from INDUSTRIA's interview with Bloomberg TV.

Bloomberg TV’s “The World is Business”, hosted by Ivailo Lakov, recently sat down with INDUSTRIA’s Kalina Tonkovska to discuss CBDC.

The highlights have been translated and adapted into the article below.

Ivailo Lakov: The American blockchain company R3 is opening its first office in Sofia, Bulgaria. Could you tell us more about it?

Kalina: R3 is a private blockchain company and one of our long-term partners, and we are one of the only companies in this sector in Bulgaria. We have been working together for more than five years. INDUSTRIA will mainly manage the office’s opening, and we will help R3 with their product development in the private blockchain sector. There are 50 open job positions, and our plans for the future are big and ambitious.

Ivailo: Could you clarify what exactly private blockchain is?

Kalina: Private blockchain is different from the popular public blockchain used in cryptocurrencies and has many more significant benefits for regulating the market. It’s used in product and application development for central and commercial banks, including currency digitalisation. The biggest challenge right now is a matter of people coherently understanding the difference between public and private blockchain. In fact, everyone that finds out what my occupation is proceeds to ask whether I work with bitcoin. This association tying blockchain to cryptocurrencies must end because blockchain is a tool for much more than just that. That’s why one of the main goals of INDUSTRIA is to educate the public on the differences between the types of blockchain described above.

Ivailo: What is private blockchain used for?

Kalina: One of the most famous private blockchain “products” is CBDC - Central Bank Digital Currencies, which are digital currencies made by central banks. Over 86% of Central Banks are actively working on developing digital currencies with the help of blockchain technology. This year, the European Central Bank officially began working on an advanced digital euro currency. We can learn from China, who started developing their own digital currency back in 2014, but only introduced the digital yuan this year. At this moment, the digital yuan is still not bound to their social credit system, at least not publicly. This system is becoming more and more popular, but I would advocate that we shouldn’t be afraid of new emerging technologies.

Ivailo: What are the benefits of a digital currency? Kalina: The benefits are that transactions would be way faster, no internet connection would be needed, the anonymity would be indefinite, and many more. Ivailo: How do you find your clients, and in which industries do you work?

Kalina: Finding clients and building partnerships in the enterprise blockchain industry only happens through long-term relationships with people from the sector. It is a long and serious research process and needs a lot of time investment. This requires a lot of work and persistence. INDUSTRIA works in almost every sector and with many organisations from Europe, the USA, and Asia. Ivailo: Where do you see Bulgaria in the future in terms of digitalisation?

Kalina: Right now, the reality is not so optimistic. A study last year shows that Bulgaria is second to last in terms of digitalisation in the European Union. 

Ivailo: What application could blockchain have in terms of public sector and relations?

Kalina: The applications are a lot, starting with the fact that government organisations should provide digital services, fostering equality between citizens from both smaller and larger communities. This is not yet implemented by the Bulgarian government for the time being, but I hope it will be done in the future. However, a lot of businesses in the private sector are developing blockchain solutions which support the digitalisation of Bulgaria. Everyone at INDUSTRIA believes that the government should commit to this change, but the push should come from the private sector first.

Ivailo: What is EBSI, and what blockchain services does it provide?

Kalina: EBSI (The European Blockchain Services Infrastructure) is INDUSTRIA’s partner, an organisation whose goals are to increase the number of talents in the blockchain sector and educate the public about the benefits of blockchain. We are currently working on a program which will support this.

Ivailo: Do you think that European regulations are decreasing the competitiveness of EU companies compared to USA and Chinese ones?

No, I think that they help. The education of people about digitalisation will improve the competitiveness of EU companies. In fact, a study last year shows that investments in the Bulgarian fintech sector over the last two years are around 30 million euros, 6 million of which are coming from Bulgarian investors. We expect even more investments in the future.

About INDUSTRIA

INDUSTRIA is a global technology consulting, development, and ventures company with expertise in the field of enterprise blockchain, confidential computing, process automation, and digital experience. As one of the official partners of R3, we are implementing cutting-edge blockchain technologies and reshaping the fintech world.

At INDUSTRIA, we are focused on providing permissioned blockchain solutions, such as Central Bank Digital Currencies, Electronic Bill of Lading, and Smart Legal Contracts. Our solutions apply to a wide range of industries and use cases to empower and modernise society.

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