Group seeks traction for blockchain in Gulf by 2019
September 04 2018 10:25 PM
Gorman: Raising blockchain awareness. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil

A non-profit organisation founded in Doha with teams in other neighbouring Gulf countries is raising awareness on the benefits of blockchain with the aim of bringing the technology closer to public and private sector stakeholders in Qatar.
Nick Gorman, co-founder of the Gulf Blockchain Foundation, is leading the group in educating people on the practical applications of blockchain in different industries in Qatar. Yesterday’s talk at the Shangri-La Hotel Doha was the second in a series of forums slated until next year.
According to the foundation’s roadmap, the group envisions blockchain to gain global traction in the Gulf region by 2019, with at least 5,000 members. The roadmap also includes, among others, a podcast launch, product showcase, monthly events, annual summit, and marketing a blockchain product – all by next year.
In an interview with Gulf Times earlier, Gorman said that while many people in Qatar are interested in blockchain, a lot of them “are scared of it.” 
“This is what we’ve realised: People are intimidated by it because it’s quite complex. And there’s also a stigma attached to bitcoin; some people believe cryptocurrencies are only used for crimes, which isn’t true.
“It uses METS (Mining Equipment, Technology and Services) and computer programming to verify computer transactions. It’s that simple. There’s nothing dodgy about it. It’s actually very transparent,” he said.
“The whole purpose of the foundation is to educate people. In our first meet-up, only 20% of attendees could tell us what a blockchain is, so the more people ask, the better. We’re giving away this information for free because we believe we could only build this ecosystem if everybody around us can understand. If nobody understands it, we’ll never get Qatar to the next level of blockchain,” Gorman continued.
In terms of infrastructure, Gorman said Qatar “is ready” for blockchain technology. The major hurdle, he noted, was “changing hearts and minds.” He said the foundation is still at the phase of “overcoming the fear, stigma, and the delusion about blockchain” during its seminars.
Another challenge is the number of people who are able to “code and develop,” said Gorman, who estimates that there are “less than 50,000 people globally who can actually sit and write a blockchain from start to finish.”
“What Qatar can benefit from are smart contract developers – a smaller piece of code; it’s not a whole blockchain but it lives on a blockchain in the application layer. Now this is what we are able to teach at the foundation already.

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