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Fabian Schär, Managing Director of the CIF at the University of Basel

Fabian Schär, Managing Director of the CIF at the University of Basel

21.02.2019

First Blockchain professorship in Switzerland at University of Basel

Fabian Schär has taken on the first blockchain professorship at the University of Basel. In various interviews, he said that the impact of technology is being underestimated.

He is not the only person conducting research in the area of blockchain, Fabian Schär noted in an interview with the Weiler Zeitung newspaper, “but to my knowledge Basel is the first to establish a professorship with this title”. The Professor from the University of Basel is researching the interface between IT and economics, exploring possible areas where blockchain technology can be applied. Although the possibilities of blockchain applications are overestimated, he feels “the impact on those areas where this technology is being used successfully is actually being underestimated”. Blockchain can in fact be used anywhere “where information needs to be publicly recorded and authenticated”.

However, Fabian Schär is skeptical when it comes to the future of Bitcoin, at least as a currency. “The currency fluctuations are just too extreme.” He is nonetheless fascinated by the virtual currency: “Ultimately, this is the first time in the history of humanity that a digital unit of value can be represented in a form that does not require a monopolist,” he said in an interview with the radio station SWR 1. He also thinks it conceivable that payment will be possible online using Bitcoin rather than personal data, especially as Bitcoin-Lightning already enables fractions of a cent to be transferred.

In the radio interview, Fabian Schär also reported that the University of Basel already has its own blockchain that allows diploma certificates to be created securely, though not in a plain text format as this “would be a major problem for data protection reasons”. He further highlighted that blockchain harbors risks along with great potential, which is why he is also researching the abuse of this technology.

As a Swiss citizen, Schär is proud of the major blockchain scene in his native country. Regulation is extremely favorable in Switzerland because the government is on board. For this reason, international delegations regularly come to visit, so they can find out more about the latest developments in blockchain. The University of Basel is in the vanguard in this respect. He clarified that Credit Suisse, which is sponsoring his professorship, had provided its funding unconditionally.

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