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Why the ‘Blockchain Professor’ Giaglis joins new ICO: Interview (Includes interview and first-hand account)

Professor George Giaglis is one of the pioneers in the blockchain field. The academic is the scientific coordinator of the world’s first open online course on crypto-currencies and the first academic degree on blockchains (a Master’s degree in Digital Currency, University of Nicosia). To date 20,000 students from 85 different countries have participated in the program. In addition, Professor Giaglis has published over 130 research articles.

Professor Giaglis has recently has partnered with SportCo, which operates sports fans community platforms. SportCo has introduced a blockchain-based algorithm to measure their readers’ involvement and reward them for any action they perform on the site.

To understand more about the value blockchain can deliver for businesses and about the new SportCo venture, Digital Journal caught up with Professor Giaglis.

Digital Journal: How important is blockchain set to be for business?

Professor George Giaglis: Blockchain is a truly revolutionary technology that will ultimately re-shape the architecture of the Internet toward a more decentralized, open and user-centric ecosystem. In this respect, its disruptive potential to almost every business is enormous. The first sectors to be affected will be those on financial mediation, like banking and insurance.

DJ: Is blockchain necessary for all businesses with a digital presence?

Giaglis: Of course not. Blockchain is good when there are significant network effects (i.e., when the value of a product is associated with the number of people using it), when there is trust involved and when we want to avoid single points of control or failure. This encompasses many aspects of the ways we do business today, but certainly not all. It is just a sign of the times that we see almost anyone wanting to jump on the blockchain bandwagon today, like on the Internet in the late 1990s.

DJ: In which cases is blockchain inappropriate for an enterprise?

Giaglis: Blockchains are not good when you want centralized structures, for example in intra-company transaction processing systems, or when parties need to retain full control of operations. That is why most (if not all) blockchain applications can be found in cross-organizational systems. Having said that, blockchains may also find applications within a business, especially for auditing purposes or when remote work centers are involved.

DJ: How did your academic career lead you blockchain technology?

Giaglis: I have been working on decentralized electronic markets since the mid-1990s. I first came across Bitcoin in 2011 and immediately realized the transformational potential of its underlying technology to dis-intermediate the Internet and democratize value exchange. Regrettably, I did not appreciate at that time how much the price of Bitcoin would rise, driven by such realization from other people 🙂

DJ: What are the key parts of the Massive open online course on crypto-currencies?

Giaglis: The University of Nicosia has been offering the world’s first MOOC called “Introduction to Digital Currencies” continuously since 2014. It is offered three times a year and has been followed by more than 15,000 students from 85 different countries since then. It is being taught by crypto-currency experts Andreas Antonopoulos and Antonis Polemitis, and I would dare claim that it has educated more people on crypto-currencies than any other course that exists today.

DJ: Who is the course aimed at?

Giaglis: The course is aimed at anyone wanting to learn systematically about crypto-currencies and blockchain and does not require any prior knowledge in the area.

DJ: What led you to get involved with SportCo?

Giaglis: I get approached by many ICOs to advise them, but I usually decline, as most projects do not fulfill the main criteria I see as essential for a successful blockchain-based venture: a genuine need for a blockchain, a real utility token and a dedicated and knowledgeable executive team, with a proven track record. SportCo certainly meets these criteria and, on top, is also based on a community-driven model of sports enthusiasts that contribute their time and knowledge and are rewarded fairly for this. I see this model as the future of most blockchain projects that will stand the test of time.

DJ: What is the aim of SportCo?

Giaglis: Sportco wants to bring sports fans at the center of the sports economy by rewarding them for their passion and contributions. It aims to achieve this by creating a new decentralized sports eco-system which is driven by community engagement and contribution and where sports fans are rewarded with the eponymous blockchain-based token.

DJ: What other types of technologies interest you?

Giaglis: I’m interested in the technologies that will define our future, especially when they reach maturity and starts working together: blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality and the Internet of things. I see a future where intelligent agents will work with each other and blockchains will function as the payment and settlement layer in a machine-to-machine commerce scenario. I am really excited to have the opportunity to work on these subjects at the Institute for the Future at the University of Nicosia.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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