Business

Whack-a-mole brings blockchain into focus

  • More than a game: David Burt, the Premier, second left, watches as Oren Bouzaglo, of Penrose Partners, demonstrates the Whack-A-Mole game at the Canadian Technology Summit (Photograph submitted)
  • Technology summit: Penrose Partners’ Sean Stapely, left, and Kerem Kolcuoglu, with David Burt, the Premier, and Penrose’s Oren Bouzaglo (Photograph supplied)

Playing a whack-a-mole game might not seem the best use of time for the Premier or business leaders, until you take a closer look at what it was all about.

A computerised version of the game, where players try to hit a pretend mole before it vanishes back down a hole, was one of the attractions at the Canadian Technology Summit in Bermuda.

David Burt and other delegates took a turn at the game. Scores were kept and a leaderboard created — and that’s where the reason for the game, aside from having fun, became clear.

“What is really cool is all the scores were written on the blockchain, so the leader boards could not be corrupted or tampered with. Making it an indisputable, auditable leader board,” Kerem Kolcuoglu, said.

He is cofounder of Penrose Partners, which staged the event and brought five Canadian blockchain businesses to the island to showcase what they had to offer. It wasn’t a haphazard selection; the enterprises were curated to closely match the current direction and aspirations of the Bermuda Government in the technology and blockchain space.

So how did whack-a-mole fit into this?

Mantle Technology is the company behind the Whack-A-Mole game, sponsored by Appleby. It attended Bermuda’s Tech Week last October and returned this month to build on its established business relationships.

“Mantle’s platform enables indisputable auditing. The game was a way to demo how the platform works,” Mr Kolcuoglu said.

“It was a fun way. The Premier was playing it, the Counsel General was playing it, everyone was having a great time — it is a live, functioning blockchain-based product.

“Appleby want to continue building this out for their internal systems for document managing and signing. That’s a very cool project that is kicking off.”

He said there are a few more “actionable projects” in the works, but he was not able to speak about them at this time.

Penrose Partners, a blockchain-focused consulting firm headquartered in Toronto, staged the summit to introduce a handful of Canadian blockchain businesses and entrepreneurs to businesses in Bermuda, such as Appleby and CCS Group, organisations including the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and government officials.

Among guests was Nhawar Nasim, acting Counsel General of Canada, and Denis Pitcher, fintech adviser to the Premier.

“It was probably the most effective way that any international business could come to the island and meet all the right people to accomplish their initiatives,” Mr Kolcuoglu said.

“We carefully selected the businesses that we wanted to bring. The companies fit perfectly within the government’s new currency initiative, where they are looking to make it so that digital currencies can be accepted for government payments and between merchants.

“We brought in a payments company that has built in the infrastructure for that, and also a custody company.”

The other companies were Bidali, Workwolf, Knox Custody, and GDA. They got to connect with the government and existing companies licensed under Bermuda’s Digital Asset Business Act.

“On the enterprise software side we got some amazing traction,” Mr Kolcuoglu said

“Workwolf does employee and recruitment credentials, which are verified using a blockchain system. Every recruitment agency on the island asked for a meeting and got a meeting to see how they could use it.”

He said some law firms and accounting firms want to use the system for their recruitment.

“Government was excited about potentially using the platform for creating digital identities for immigration and customs purposes.

“There’s nothing signed or completed, but just identifying that opportunity is a really big one.”

The summit featured panel discussions and a fireside chat with Mr Burt. It was held at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The event is likely to return.

“We got amazing feedback. Everyone was very happy. We are excited to do it again,” Mr Kolcuoglu said.

“A big part of the success was really getting to know Bermuda at the local level with friends and family, and developing relationships so we could understand what the jurisdiction desires to move forward in the direction it wants.”