The popular Blockchain Expo series returned to London to organize its fifth annual global event at the Business Design Center both offline and online. It gathered representatives of major industries from across the globe to discuss Blockchain, IoT, Cyber Security & Cloud, AI, and Big Data.
Blockchain Expo 2021 was held in two stages: on 6-7th September at the Business Design Center in London and on 13-15th September virtually.
The event gathered about 5,000 attendees, including CTO’s, Heads of Innovation and Technology, IT directors, developers, start-up’s, OEM’s, government, automotive, operators, technology providers, investors, VCs, and many more. The participants enjoyed the opportunity to share and listen to ground-breaking ideas and different opinions from top brands and professionals.
The blockchain conference agenda highlighted numerous expert keynotes, interactive panel discussions, and solution-based case studies.
We at PixelPlex were eager to tune in to find out more about the latest developments in the blockchain arena in both emerging and more established markets.
See our summary of the virtual blockchain event!
Virtual panel: Technology utopianism & the state of blockchain in the enterprise
During the virtual panel, Laura Ellis, Head of Technology Forecasting at BBC, was discussing the most essential aspects of blockchain with the following domain experts:
- David Karney — Head of Digital Assets at Worldline
- Mark Cudden — Chief Technology Officer at we.trade
- Shamit Bhat — Interoperability Solutions Director at GSMA
The participants gladly shared their opinions about the current and future prospects of blockchain technology. All of them agreed that we have yet to see many more striking blockchain use cases and that the entire technology will continue to progress by leaps and bounds.
David Karney pointed out that we are at the stage where the industry is still growing. He believes that currently, the leading edge and most promising blockchain use cases are CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) and blockchain-based identity management.
During his speech, David Karney also mentioned that creating something from scratch is much easier than working with the existing technology and improving the existing industries which are often demanding and unwilling to embrace the change.
He also spoke about the importance of using blockchain in social media, since we all need to know what we watch and ensure the uniqueness and origin of the content.
Mark Cudden expressed his amazement at the innovation speed and solid use cases of blockchain technology. According to his point of view, blockchain delivers new business values and models, which in the long run will bring about real and positive change. He stated that if we manage to unite new technologies with the legacy we will get meaningful changes and greater efficiency.
Mark Cudden also mentioned that regulation still remains the most pressing issue in blockchain adoption. He briefly described the concept that stands behind the blockchain-based platform for banks created by we.trade and shared how they in the company dealt with regulation aspects.
Shamit Bhat admitted that these days we are seeing multiple problem-solving blockchain use cases going into production and how big companies globally are experimenting with them. He drew special attention to tokenization which he described as an entire experience that allows us to engage with literally everyone, gamify various staff for events, and gain a host of benefits and rewards.
He stated that intermediaries are going to evolve into Blockchain-as-a-Service providers and that we are on the way to establishing a new network where vendors and operators will be brought together for efficient and simplified interaction.
Apart from that, he noticed that in the future we will be moving in two directions: 1 — we will find new markets and business models; 2 — we will continue to improve legacy-based use cases to make them even better.
Tokenize the planet: How being green can save the planet and make you money
Stefan Rust, Founder & CEO at Sonic Capital, looked back at the time when he was first introduced to Bitcoin and understood how many advantages it has over traditional means of payment.
Together with Jillian Godsill, contributing journalist at CoinDesk, they also took a broad and objective view of issues surrounding crypto and blockchain as well as potential solutions to those problems. They both focused on excessive electricity consumption. Stefan Rust mentioned that we are highly dependent on electricity since we are living in the digital age and it’s essential to keep up with the pace of technology.
With regard to this and many other environmental issues, Mr. Rust founded Sonic Capital — Asia’s first venture capital and impact investment fund to be tokenized on blockchain.
Sonic Capital seeks to invest in startups that use blockchain and tokens to introduce viable commercial solutions to issues related to the regeneration and conservation of the environment, and social equality. Particularly, the fund is interested in encouraging businesses that support the adoption and development of carbon credit markets and blockchain-powered supply chains.
According to Stefan Rust, the tokenization of the fund will help lower the entry point for investment, allow participants to engage in the smart financial and governance model, work towards the sustainable development of the planet, find solutions for preserving the world’s natural resources, and get rewards for doing the good.
In other words, save the planet and earn money.
Driving experimentation & scaling adoption of blockchain technology
Based on his own experience, Fergal Downey, VP Engineering at Rakuten, shared some tips on how to successfully embrace blockchain technology. Take a look at them too!
- Set out your stall for the entire organization. Let everyone in your team know why and how you are going to implement blockchain.
- Expand your blockchain network. You will be better off if you ensure internal awareness and external promotion of blockchain by conducting conferences, meetups and cooperating with media outlets that publish relevant content.
- Demonstrate the potential with experimentation. Turn your blockchain ideas into experiments. When addressing this point, Fergal Downey referred to the two profound blockchain-powered projects developed by Rakuten — the Covid-19 occupancy management solution created in partnership with an external IoT company called Wia and provenance tool for donors and charities.
- Build a strong core. Establish a strong core so that you don’t have to create everything from scratch once a new project comes along.
- Develop meaningful partnerships. Don’t miss out on others’ ideas and solutions — look for partners that can accelerate your vision and mission.
- Align your blockchain efforts with the business strategy of your organization. Define your strengths and find out how it’s possible to complement them with blockchain.
Last but not least — always adapt and evolve. These days, it’s getting harder to resist the power of new technologies and trends. Fergal Downey mentioned just some recent trends — NFTs and CBDC — but we know that there is more to come…
The future of blockchain in finance
Massimo Buonomo, Senior Expert and Advisor in fin-tech and blockchain in finance for several international organizations, gave a speech on the future of blockchain.
In his presentation, he outlined the key aspects of the major players acting in the traditional banking and blockchain space, namely CBDCs, DeFi, and NFTs.
Massimo Buonomo kicked off with CBDCs — the emerging blockchain trend. He stated that they comprise two models:
- A one-tier model where digital money is transferred directly from the Central Bank via the Social Security system to an individual.
- A two-tier model implies that digital money is transferred to intermediaries (mostly banks) and then to an individual.
Regardless of which model governments around the world will opt for, the main thing here is that the processing of transactions will require digital currency wallets instead of traditional credit cards.
Mr. Buonomo also mentioned that the introduction of CBDCs is bound to have a positive impact on consumers: they won’t have to pay fees to banks for money transfers or holding a bank account and to credit cards processing companies, like Visa and Mastercard.
As well as this, Massimo Buonomo made reference to DeFi and touched upon both its benefits and risks. He introduced an example of a successful DeFi project called Wolves of Wall Street which seeks to innovate DeFi/NFT and expand the use of Semi Fungible Tokens (SFTs). Its major features comprise decentralization, fractionalization, diversification, high returns, high liquidity of NFT assets, and direct relationship between NFT holders and investors.
Mr. Buonomo also spoke about the ubiquitous NFTs, which are taking the entire crypto space by storm. He looked into their major benefits, most outstanding use cases, and future prospects.
Virtual panel: Central bank digital currencies in action
The given virtual panel gathered top specialists in the CBDC domain who were delving into the ins and outs of the latest phenomenon.
The list of the speakers included:
- Nicole Sandler — Innovation Policy Global Lead at Barclays
- William Lovell — Head of Future Technology at Bank of England
- Richard Ells — CEO & Founder at Electroneum
- David Karney — Head of Digital Assets at Worldline
- Eric van der Kleij — Co-founder at EdenBase (acted as the moderator)
Nicole Sandler spoke about the first and most prominent CBDC use case which is Sand Dollar (one of just two fully operational retail CBDCs worldwide) issued by the Central Bank of the Bahamas. She noted that it brought about greater efficiency of the Bahamian payments systems through more secure transactions and faster settlement speed. Nicole Sandler provided other examples of the countries experimenting with CBDCs, namely China (e-CNY) and Sweden (E-krona), and referred to the famous Project Ubin — a blockchain case study for banking in Singapore.
Ms. Sandler also highlighted the pros and cons of CBDCs as well as their further prospects. Together with the rest of the panel participants, they agreed that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the smooth, trouble-free implementation of CBDCs both in England and in other countries across the globe.
Plus, she said a couple of words about the Fnality project — the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) initiative that aims to enable banks to settle with each other on blockchains using tokenized money based on a common account at the central bank.
William Lovell explained why we need CBDCs and what long-term benefits they can bring. He stated that the best things about the central bank digital currency are greater financial inclusion and indisputable convenience (like on the Bahamas’ 700 islands). As far as Sweden’s case is concerned, he pointed out that here the CBDC aims to tackle the issue of declining cash usage. The UK, according to William Lovell, has a mature and balanced payment system — yet, it’s essential to look for new channels and new business models, which may turn out to be beneficial for everyone in the long run.
Richard Ells admitted that it’s important to keep in mind regulatory aspects to ensure the smooth implementation of CBDCs. He also delved into the potential usefulness of KYC (Know-Your-Customer) and AML (Anti-Money-Laundering) practices in CBDCs, and genuine financial inclusion. Mr. Ells reflected on the fluctuation of cryptocurrencies and whether they need to have some underlying value. In addition, he discussed the privacy and data protection concerns around CBDCs with the other participants. Together they attempted to find detailed explanations of how those challenges can be overcome.
David Karney mentioned that it’s important to establish a high level of trust among consumers. According to him, CBDCs tend to be an enormously powerful tool capable of disrupting multiple industries. He focused on the implementation of CBDCs in social media platforms and said that they have the potential to solve the fake news issue. Mr. Karney provided the BBC (The British Broadcasting Corporation) as an example of a media company that can benefit from tokenizing its content and implementing its own currency, thereby providing its audience with high-grade, genuine content.
We were delighted to listen to the opinions and stories of top professionals who are also enthusiastic about blockchain! Their speeches and discussions were informative, rousing, and encouraging.
We at PixelPlex also keep abreast of the latest blockchain developments and trends. Visit our cozy blog to find out more about blockchain and digital transformation and get to know how the technology can help your business get ahead.