October 29, 2018. The Ateneo De Manila University, together with MediXserve and the NEM Foundation collaborate to build AMBERLab to serve as the center for blockchain research in the Philippines.
AMBERLab’s (Ateneo-MedixServe Blockchain Education and Research Laboratory) main goal is to become the think tank and center for research on how developing countries such as the Philippines can take advantage of blockchain technology for nation-building.
Dr. Regina Estuar, Head of AMBERLab said blockchain supports their vision in maximizing ICT (information and communications technology) for nation building. “Most of the currency services do not reach the underserved,” she said. Blockchain, according to Dr. Estuar eliminates layers of transactions which in turn can drive costs of services down.
Dr. Estuar is talking about one key benefit of using blockchain – elimination of the middleman. The blockchain, in its simplest definition, keeps a record of transactions in blocks and in a chronological order. Now, instead of one server keeping this record (centralized), there are many servers that keep the exact same copy of the record of transactions (decentralized). Coupled with high-level cryptography, it is near impossible to alter the records. (Read: What is blockchain?)
Immutability of the blockchain allows industries adopting this technology to reduce the number of middlemen (layers) that a transaction has to go through. For example, when sending money using blockchain technology, there is no need to authenticate if $300 is sent because the blockchain will not allow the transaction to go through if the wallet where the money came from does not have $300. Consider a check that a receiver can only confirm that it has no money when it bounces after 3 days.
But while finance is something many blockchain-engaged companies are looking into, AMBERLab wants to deal not just with finance but with other pressing problems the Philippines need to solve, like health care. MediXserve supports AMBERLab not just with contributions but also with its expertise in the health service sector. MediXserve currently is building its electronic medical records system into the blockchain.
AMBERLab is aptly headquartered at Ateneo’s PLDT Convergent Technologies Center Building. As a think tank, the laboratory will be a place where “minds from different fields, like economics, IT, & social sciences will collaborate to maximize the use of IT to solve problems of the society,” said Dr. Estuar in an interview with BitPinas. One of the partners, the NEM Foundation through NEM Philippines, will assist the laboratory not just through funding, but also through contribution of skillsets, design of workshops and curriculum, and even assistance in educational events, just like last Saturday, October 20, 2018, when NEM’s Jeff McDonald talked about blockchain in front of students from different schools in Ateneo. NEM also conducted a blockchain workshop to AMBERLab personnel early this October 2018.
As a place of convergence, AMBERLab will be the “place to design and build prototypes, develop training programs and curriculum. The founding members aim to see it as the place where researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, faculty, supporters, industry experts can come together and share knowledge as well as best practices in technology, health, finance and insurance, government, economics, and even social enterprises.”
This effectively means that AMBERLab is open not just for Ateneo students and academe but to anyone who wants to support its mission and cause. The lab also welcomes research proposals and funds to promote the use of blockchain technology.