Interview with Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Secure Technology Alliance

Blockchain without smart card technology is like a house without a roof

Gabriela Motroc
Randy Vanderhoof

Blockchain and smart card technology go together like cheese and wine. Why, you ask? We talked to Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Secure Technology Alliance about their newly-launched white paper, organizations’ need for blockchain, smart card technology and blockchain’s potential in IoT.

The Secure Technology Alliance Payments Council recently released a white paper to “provide a primer on blockchain technology, discuss use cases that are currently commercially available or being piloted, and discuss the role secure element/smart card technology plays in the different use cases.”

“It’s anticipated that a diverse set of applications will be implemented using blockchain – everything from cryptocurrencies to funds transfers, asset registries and autonomous Internet of Things (IoT) device payment,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Secure Technology Alliance. As a result, “proper management of cryptographic keys is critical.”

We talked to Mr. Vanderhoof about the white paper, organizations’ need for blockchain, smart card technology and blockchain’s potential in IoT.  


JAXenter: Implementations of blockchain-based applications are growing rapidly. A lot of industries are currently experimenting with blockchain-based applications but some haven’t figured out how blockchain could help them. Is blockchain really necessary or do companies use it because it’s the latest trend in technology?

Randy Vanderhoof: Companies are experimenting with blockchain as a new approach that could help to improve efficiencies, have a cryptographically sound process for recording transactions, and/or reduce costs. The white paper includes several use cases that illustrate this. For example, the process for registering ownership of assets (e.g. stocks) is slow and require a record of ownership. A blockchain asset registry can act as the primary and immutable source of ownership information for property such as land, high-value durable goods, and equities. The blockchain can also facilitate real-time transfer of ownership and payment for assets.

JAXenter: The aim of the Secure Technology Alliance is to provide guidance for organizations implementing blockchain applications. Why do companies need guidance for implementing blockchain applications?

Randy Vanderhoof: The Secure Technology Alliance provides guidance to organizations implementing smart card technology and is not focused on organizations adopting blockchain technology. Instead, we are focused on helping organizations interested in using blockchain technology to understand how smart card technology can be used with their implementation within their business.

JAXenter: Do you have some examples of organizations that experimented with blockchain applications and failed?

Randy Vanderhoof: The goal of the white paper was to provide a primer on blockchain and discuss how smart card and secure element technology can be used to improve the security of blockchain implementations. This is a new application area for smart card/secure technology so we felt an educational resource was needed. We did not look at failures.

SEE ALSO: We have a match: Blockchain and IoT mix well together

JAXenter: Could you name some of the challenges organizations could encounter while experimenting with blockchain applications? 

Randy Vanderhoof: Some of the challenges organizations might encounter when implementing blockchain include permissioned or permissionless blockchain, scalability, standards, security considerations, reputation and consumer perception, and legal and regulatory considerations. These challenges and considerations to solve for them are defined in detail in the white paper.

JAXenter: Does blockchain have potential in an IoT context? 

Randy Vanderhoof: Yes – one example could be to enable IoT device commerce to record services requested autonomously and track the history of data exchanges between individual devices, storing specific requests in a ledger.

JAXenter: What does the future of payments look like?

Randy Vanderhoof: The future of payments will have many new form factors, such as wearables, mobile devices, new methods for authentication.

Thank you very much!

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Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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