One of the largest Hong Kong hackathons recently showed the real potential of global problem solving using blockchain.
Under the banner Decentralized Applications (DAPPs) for Scale, the EOS Global Hackathon in Hong Kong saw a massive turnout of 350 blockchain coders from around the globe. In less than 30 hours, the 90 participating teams showed the real potential of blockchain that often gets missed out-- problem-solving.
“A lot of people do not realize what distributed computing means. But when they finally figure it out and apps roll out en masse they will see how revolutionary that idea is,” Larry Sanger, Co-founder of Wikipedia, CIO of Everipedia and one of the judges, said.
The event provided a launchpad for EOSIO, a blockchain protocol that was developed under an open source MIT software license by Block.one. It is designed to enable secure data transfer and business-grade DAPPs.
Block.one is using EOSIO to aim at the shortcomings of a platform like Ethereum. Ethereum uses an obscure programming language Solidity and is relatively slow in block processing. In comparison, EOSIO is faster, uses the ubiquitous C++ programming language, and does not incur upfront transaction fees like Ethereum Gas.
"So right off the bat, you are going to have hundreds of thousands more to jump right into coding...It is especially great for certain applications that require high-frequency transactions as they can't exist on Ethereum," Travis Moore, Co-founder, and CTO of Everipedia said.
Unlike many blockchain hackathons that focus on disrupting or rethinking the role of financial services and institutions, 50% of projects at the EOS Global Hackathon looked at solving social problems.
“Often when you go to such events, it is often about new financial products and replacing financial institutions. Fifty percent of the participants were working on social impact projects, which really highlights one of the differences,” Joshua Lavin, Operations Manager, Block.one and Product Manager, ii5 Hong Kong said.
"These decentralized autonomous communities are going to organize around major social problems, and I am confident that blockchain is going to help drive major changes in the way we address social issues," Dr. Jane Thomason, CEO, Blockchain Quantum Impact, Senior Advisor, Abt Associates Australia and another judge said.
The winning team IDPASS, which walked home with USD 100,000, underscored her belief. The team, made up of developers from France, the US and Belarus, looked to provide identities to over one billion undocumented people with no formal identification documents.
Unlike previous projects that focused on mobile phones, IDPASS assumes that these individuals will not have access to any device. Their open-source project used EOSIO to help humanitarian agencies to offer identifications, which can be easily printed out as disposable QR codes. With these codes, they can access healthcare, educational, financial and legal services.
First runner-up Blockflare, a tie-up between Hong Kong and Singapore developers, targeted the likes of CloudFlare whose products are used for DDoS mitigation. Blockflare's project, which won USD 25,000, is a crowd-sourced, decentralized anti-DDoS platform that guarantees DDoS mitigation using proof-of-work and Tor routing. Russia-based second runner-up Ducatur built the first decentralized exchange that supports both EOS and Ether, running at the speed of Binance.
"A lot of the projects we saw were specific use cases to solve a particular problem in a country. But a lot of the concepts can be replicated in other markets and for other problems. So, once we have gotten a couple of use cases launched and running, we will see people all over the world come up with even more ideas to solve local problems that they face at home," Andrew Bliss, CFO, Block.one and another judge said.
The Hong Kong Hackathon is the first of four global hackathons. The next will be held in Sydney, Australia on August 4-5, 2018, followed by London, the UK on September 23-23, 2018. The venue for the Grand Finale was not disclosed.