Otto Philipp Braun supports blockchain research at the University of Kassel

More and more universities in Germany, including the University of Kassel, are taking up research into blockchain technology. An interdisciplinary working group is investigating questions of stability, acceptance and the need for regulation of blockchain applications. This working group can now look forward to a donation of 750,000 euros from the entrepreneur Otto Philipp Braun.

It is very important for the research group to investigate the full potential of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), i.e. to go far beyond the possibilities of the Bitcoin blockchain and payment processing.

In particular, Smart Contracts are considered to have great potential, whether in e-governance or the news spy

Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Blocher, Head of the Department of Civil Law, Corporate Law and Information Law at the University of Kassel, for example, predicts that this will be the news spy: “DLT is bringing about profound changes in the way we use the Internet and how we do business. It will have at least as lasting an impact on many areas of society as it did on the commercialisation of the Internet in the 1990s. The ‘Internet of Information’ will now be joined by the ‘Internet of Values’.”

In the spring of 2016, a DLT research group was founded in which more than 20 disciplines are represented, including computer scientists, business computer scientists, economists, business economists, lawyers and – last but not least – musicologists (who research the effects of blockchains on the music industry, among other things). In the meantime, it has identified several dozen research topics related to DLT, which will initially be dealt with in four clusters, but will subsequently be researched in multidisciplinary collaborative projects.

Otto Philipp Braun, who recently founded Metamorphoses Braun GmbH based in Munich, is a practical companion. The company’s objects include smart contracts, blockchain and distributed ledger technology, the mining of crypto currencies as well as the development and marketing of Internet- and blockchain-based technology solutions and corresponding apps. Metamorphoses Braun GmbH, whose founders expect DLT to improve the exchange of information and values between people as well as to be more citizen-oriented and transparent in decision-making processes, intends to cooperate closely with the DLT research group of the University of Kassel in the future.

The company is now funding their basic research with 750,000 euros for the investigation of three major topics

Changes in market structures and processes through the use of blockchains / smart contracts – C2B instead of B2C (under the direction of Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Blocher, Prof. Dr. Andreas Mann and Prof. Dr. Georg von Wangenheim);
Trusted Blockchain: Secure Blockchain Technology through Third-Party Certification (led by Prof. Dr. Ali Sunyaev and Prof. Dr. Andreas Mann);
Crypto-Assets – blockchaing-based assignment of rights to persons (under the direction of Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Blocher and Prof. Dr. Georg von Wangenheim).
A part of the funds, which is dedicated to the financing of events, conference trips etc., is linked to the course development of Bitcoin and Ether, so to speak to the success as well as the importance of the two outstanding blockchains. According to Prof. Blocher, this also opens up new avenues in the financing of university research projects.

The University of Kassel confirms the impression that blockchain technology is increasingly finding its way into German universities. Just this week, we reported on a Blockchain conference at the University of Münster. The Mittweida University of Applied Sciences was also particularly active in blockchain research and was able to attract attention with its blockchain idea competition in September.

BaFin President Hufeld: Regulation in the “tension relationship between innovation and safety


Felix Hufeld, President of the German regulatory authority BaFin, last week made a speech on crypto currencies and the blockchain. He also discussed the role of his authority in the regulation of technology and applications. Innovation must be promoted, but financial market stability must also be maintained.

On Thursday, 7 June, the President of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) gave a speech in Berlin with the title topic “Bitcoin, Blockchain: What is hype and what remains? As the title suggests, it was on the one hand about the challenges crypto currencies present from the point of view of the financial market regulator. On the other hand, Hufeld also addressed the possibilities that the technology offers in his opinion.

Hype or future cryptosoft technology?

“At this point I cannot and will not conclusively answer the question of what is only hype about Bitcoin and cryptosoft Blockchain and if it is a scam and what actually has the substance to disruptively change the financial markets. However, as a financial supervisor, I can offer you some assessments and observations.”

This is how Felix Hufeld introduces his remarks on the blockchain. As the best-known application of the blockchain, he highlights the Bitcoin as representative of all crypto currencies. He still does not regard it as a currency, since in our jurisdiction the term currency is classically reserved for central bank money. Although Bitcoin was once created as an alternative currency, it should be regarded more as a unit of account.

BaFin must act in a regulatory capacity
He sees BaFin in the role of the regulator, which sets the necessary framework for blockchain and crypto currencies to develop securely. However, in order not to overshoot the mark and over-regulate, the first step is to learn more about the technology. “Innovations need space, especially at the beginning, in order to develop. A market economy is characterised by giving them this space,” says Hufeld, pointing out his guidelines. Out of fear of risks, opportunities must not be allowed to fade into the background.

BaFin also wants to protect the interests of consumers and investors. Therefore, Initial Coin Offerings are the main focus of the authority. The financing method ICO is so far still extremely unregulated, uncertain and highly speculative. However, the maxim of action is not to protect individual investors, but to ensure financial stability and prevent systematic damage to consumers.

The blockchain can be used in a variety of ways

Hufeld describes the temporary price gains of the crypto currencies as a hype, he sees the blockchain as somewhat more stable. He mentions Estonia and Sweden as examples where the blockchain is already used in public administration. There, the technology is particularly suitable in countries with a lower level of development, where structures are still in the process of being set up. He describes the blockchain for “some African countries” as a “real quantum leap”, for example in the documentation of property rights.

But the blockchain can also contribute to securing growth and prosperity in industrialized nations. The financial sector in particular, as an obvious field of application, is of particular interest here. Small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from free cross-border payment transactions without intermediaries. He also mentions borrower’s note loans and insurance as fields of application for block-chain applications such as Smart Contracts. However, he also warns against looking for a solution for all problems in the block chain. One has to ask oneself exactly who can benefit from the technology.

As clarified at the beginning of the speech, Hufeld cannot say exactly where the promise of the blockchain ends and the irrational hype begins. However, he shows a clear will on the part of BaFin. It wants to promote technology where it can be used profitably. For the serious part of the cryptoscene this is good news.

Good BaFin, bad BaFin – Why the Bitcoin secret has many facets

The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, BaFin for short, supervises and controls all areas of finance in Germany within the framework of financial supervision – at least this is what Wikipedia says. It is therefore obvious that the crypto-economy falls under the jurisdiction of BaFin. Its reputation, at least among many blockchain start-ups and crypto investors, is, however, only moderate. But why? And what can the BaFin do in this context?

One accusation that is often made against BaFin is that it tends to have a negative attitude towards the Bitcoin secret

Consumer warnings against Bitcoin secret support this image of a skeptical authority. Many forget thereby: It is the duty of every regulatory authority to draw attention to risks. If it does not do this, it will be in greater need of explanation to the Ministry of Finance and the government. It would be completely untrustworthy if an authority were to call on the population to invest in such assets. The same applies to central banks and other public institutions around the world, all of which have communicated the risks of crypto-trading and Bitcoin secret. It is therefore wrong to accuse an authority of being negative about an asset simply because it issues a risk warning – unfortunately it is not that simple.

BaFin is too strict
It should be noted here that BaFin does not make any laws, but only implements them. Its room for manoeuvre is therefore limited to the interpretation of existing law. Nevertheless, it is not an exhilarating statistic if there is only one blockchain startup in Germany that has managed to obtain a BaFin licence (Bitbond) and there has not yet been a regulated ICO on German soil. So the question is: Is the blockchain start-ups lacking in competence or is the BaFin trying to avoid decisions?

There is no simple answer here either. The BaFin itself understands the subject of block chains and crypto currencies very well. There is also no law that forbids ICOs or the release of tokens. One challenge that is being fought against, however, is the differentiation between utility and security tokens – a topic on which we have often reported. The debate about token categorization is currently leading to heated discussions around the world. Accordingly, the BaFin is afraid of a decision. This impression at least comes to mind when talking to blockchain start-ups that have to wait a long time for answers and requests. If you do nothing, you don’t make any mistakes – at least as far as decisions are concerned, this mantra unfortunately seems to be far too popular with the Financial Market Authority.

Time is of the essence

Especially small jurisdictions such as Liechtenstein or Gibraltar benefit from the hesitation of a BaFin or other financial market supervisory authorities in other, larger European countries. In countries like Gibraltar, the mills do not grind so slowly. Short distances allow a quick implementation of crypto-friendly regulatory guidelines. Although this is initially negative for Germany, Germany cannot be compared to a country that is only a few football pitches in size and can be described in the broadest sense as a tax haven – the EU or not.

The question here is: Do the adopted regulatory guidelines allow an adaptation or testing of a new technology or do they only further restrict it? In the first case, it is desirable that an authority hastens with its decisions and shows courage. If, on the other hand, there is a tendency to regulate something prematurely in such a way that innovation is nipped in the bud, then in many cases it is advisable to ignore the issue of regulation for the time being.

Germany is not Gibraltar
A country like Germany cannot be compared to a British overseas territory on the Spanish border. Stricter regulation is not only a disadvantage. Regulation made in Germany could fully exploit its advantages, especially in terms of legal certainty and consumer protection, since companies can rely on the German state or the German jurisdiction. If the BaFin says something, then it carries weight. This reliability and the high requirements that have to be met in Germany help companies to establish stable business relationships with banks. In countries with lower regulatory requirements, one or two crypto startups had to experience that the business relationship with the bank was terminated because the bank got cold feet. Such a scenario would be in Germany at e

Share issue via blockchain: Overstock leads the way

Online giant Overstock announced during the International Futures Conference that it will issue its own shares via the tØ Blockchain platform.

Launched in August 2015, the tØ Blockchain platform aims to revolutionise asset trading and transaction by issuing shares and bonds as digital and blockchain-based assets.

According to company statements, Overstock intends to issue the shares in two different ways: the traditional way (Nasdaq) and the tØ Blockchain.

Overstock’s Cryptocurrency Manager Judd Bailey pointed out that 100% of the Blockchain shares are traded, transferred and recorded via the Blockchain and are therefore processed entirely via the decentralised account book.

Bagley says in a crypto trader interview with CoinDesk

“We have tested the security of the crypto trader output several times and we can say with a clear conscience that the output is secure and fully meets the SEC’s high standards”. Read more about it: Is Crypto Trader a Scam? Beware, Read our Review First

Bailey referred once again to the July 2015 test in which the $5 million Cryptobond was issued via the blockchain. At the time, CEO Patrick Byrne and the New York-based trading company FNY Managed Accounts were involved in the test. They successfully demonstrated how financial instruments can be digitized and settled via the blockchain.

Overstock will use an eligible ledger to issue the tØ share, but the transactions will be batched and hashed on the Bitcoin blockchain due to the transparency.

In total, Overstock will issue 1 million Blockchain shares with a total value of $25.29 million.

“We have chosen 1 million shares because this is a significant size to prove the concept,” said Baily.

Two different markets

Due to the issuance on two different markets, it can happen that the value of the share differs on both markets.

For example, there is no link between the blockchain stock and the stock that is issued in the traditional way. Traders can therefore trade the stock on two different markets.

So far Overstock has not publicly announced a precise timetable.

Author’s comment (Mark): “I must say Overstock has real eggs. Already in the past we have heard a lot about the retail giant from the USA. Overstock was one of the first large companies to decide to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment and has had a close relationship to the digital currency ever since. CEO Patrick Byrne has become a true pioneer in the industry. I look forward to seeing which companies will follow suit after the hopefully successful launch”.