LA Blockchain Summit: Detailed Discussions on DeFi, NFTs, Cryptos, and Regulations

The logo of LA Blockchain Summit on a city background

Although the LA Blockchain Summit was unable to host conference attendees under the warm California sun, thousands of crypto and tech enthusiasts eagerly joined the virtual event. The summit took place on November 2-4 and was free of charge.

LA Blockchain Summit, produced by Draper Goren Holm, is one of the largest blockchain events held annually. This November it was organized for the 8th time.

The summit organizers note that their key objective is to stage world-class events that promote responsible investment and mass adoption of blockchain. Looking at the growing number of speakers and attendees, it’s safe to say that they are quite successful in adhering to their goals.

We at PixelPlex couldn’t miss this conference either. In addition, we have prepared a summary of this virtual blockchain event. Check it out!

Day 1

On the very first day of the summit, the speakers exchanged views on a variety of blockchain trends, namely Bitcoin, new tokens, crypto investing, DEXs, the growth of DeFi, and, of course, NFTs. Let’s recall some of the discussions.

One question: what’s the endgame?

What do you think the discussion under this title was about? No, it has nothing to do with Avengers or Thanos. Michael Saylor, the Chairman & CEO of MicroStrategy, and Tim Draper, the founding partner of Draper Associates and DFJ, spoke about the prospects of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and discussed if cryptos could face an endgame.

Mr. Saylor is obviously a big Bitcoin advocate. Here’s what he said,

“I think that every year and for your lifetime, you are just gonna see more and more applications that build Bitcoin into them. It’s going to transform every sector of the economy. I’m seeing 8 billion people on the planet, many have a mobile device or several, and they all have a wallet with digital currency and a digital asset. I think the strongest digital asset will be Bitcoin.”

In Michael Saylor’s opinion, the thing that’s magical about Bitcoin is that it is an asset, technology, and protocol altogether. He remarked,

“As an asset, if you think of it as a digital property or digital energy, or digital money, it gives you a higher form of property rights than we’ve ever had.”

For Tim Draper, Bitcoin represents trust and freedom. He pointed out that instead of having a third party to trust, having to work with a government and a bank, people now have this set of algorithms decentralized around the world that they can rely on.

In the NFT fast lane with McLaren Racing

A popular British F1 team McLaren Racing has recently launched an NFT platform where their avid fans can purchase and trade unique digital collectibles. At the LA Blockchain Summit, Lindsey Eckhouse, Director of licensing, eCommerce & esports at McLaren Racing, provided detailed insights into their new program, shared how the team initially got into the NFT space, and what they plan to do next. Andrew Dix, Founder and CEO of Crowded Media Group LLC (who is also a big fan of cars and racing), asked questions and participated in the discussion as well.

Speaking of the genesis of the decision to try out the NFT trend, Lindsey Eckhouse said,

“When I joined the business six months ago, NFTs were the hot topic. The NBA has done a brilliant job with Top Shot. I think all rights holders or teams or leagues were looking at that thinking what an interesting way to engage their fans. So joining this business we very much look at what unique aspects we use to engage our fans. We put them at the center of everything we do. And NFTs were really the next evolution of that.”

As a result, McLaren Racing chose to launch its platform on the Tezos blockchain. Ms. Eckhouse explained that they opted for Tezos because their company is hugely focused on sustainability, and Tezos is currently one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly blockchains.

The created McLaren Racing Collective platform allows racing fans and blockchain enthusiasts to buy and collect digital components and cars. During the first drop, users can accumulate 22 MCL35M 2021 Formula 1 racing car components. These are real car parts that originate from the McLaren Racing CAD system. Two of the three waves that have been released are sold out, so the company is seeing a lot of fan engagement and excitement with the assets it releases.

The fact that McLaren Racing is using the actual CAD files is pretty enormous. Lindsey Eckhouse commented,

“Yes, there is a ton of intellectual property and proprietary CAD information that goes into the creation of our MCL35M Formula 1 race car. We did strip away some of the proprietary information that’s included there, but it’s the official F1 CAD issued by our technical team. So, each of these parts are actually built to spec, which I think is super unique and nothing like we’ve ever released before.”

If a fan collects or purchases ten components, they get signed merchandise. The first user to actually create the full car will win a VIP trip to a 2022 Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Ms. Eckhouse also admitted that the company deliberately created the marketplace to ultimately be very seamless and look like a regular eCommerce store. They tried to hide some of the scariness of crypto and blockchain because the target there was their avid fan. The truth is that some fans may not be as comfortable with the subject matter as blockchain experts and enthusiasts, so it’s still a learning process for them.

She added,

“The thinking is to go out to the avids, get them engaged in the experience and comfortable with the experience before introducing more elements of crypto and blockchain to them.”

McLaren Racing is also still learning and trying to figure out how NFTs will work for the company in the long term. Their first objective was obviously fan engagement and they want to stay true to the overall experience.

Dive deeper into the NFT trend and learn how to sell and buy non-fungible tokens

Rise of the resistance: the rapid growth of DeFi

This virtual panel was dedicated to the evolution of the DeFi sector. It gathered experts from a wide range of business domains, including:

  • Om Malviya, Co-founder and CPO of Tezsure
  • Derek Alia, CEO of Futureswap
  • Bilal El Alamy, Co-founder and CEO of Equisafe
  • Michael Anderson,  Co-founder of Framework Ventures
  • Alex Davis, CINO at Tezos Israel

One of the major questions was: what is the future of DeFi?

Derek Alia pointed out,

“I would say because it’s financially the most interesting and exciting place to be. There’s an incredible amount of opportunity, incredible amount of growth.”

Om Malviya agreed with this point saying that the progress made by DeFi has been amazing. He added that the next important steps towards DeFi are increased awareness and education. The speaker believes that proper research of this technology and education on it will eventually lead to better products and better security. Besides, he suggested that the next focus of everyone interested in DeFi should be searching for new ways to bring more liquidity while making DeFi as simple as possible for all users.

Michael Anderson expressed an opinion that DeFi helps involve financial institutions, bridging the gap between FinTech and DeFi and enabling developers to build any financial product that they want.

Moreover, Mr. Anderson offered an alternative term for the DeFi,

“Actually, DeFi is probably not the best way to describe what we’re talking about. Open-source finance might be the better way of describing it. Because really what we’re talking about is open-source technology meeting finance and for the first time ever we actually have the opportunity to do that.”

Bilal El Alamy supported Michael Anderson’s ideas with regards to “bringing more institutions to experiment on decentralized exchanges in the DeFi ecosystem.” The entrepreneur added that in order to bring more value in terms of building marketplaces, we need more trading and analytics tools.

Talking about where DeFi will move next, Alex Davis suggested that DeFi tools will provide consumer protection in the future. He shared,

“I really hope that the DeFi kind of drives home this point that we don’t need laws to be able to send value to one another for businesses to thrive.”

Another interesting point discussed during the panel was the role of NFTs inside the DeFi space. Derek Alia suggested that NFTs already could be plugged into the DeFi bringing many opportunities and showing how versatile the DeFi is.

Om Malviya, on the other hand, thinks that NFTs are in their early stages, liquidity is still very low for them, and the process will take time.

Got ideas for your own NFT platform? PixelPlex development team can help you bring them to life

Day 2

On the second day of the conference, speakers talked about blockchain startups, blockchain’s potential in gaming, tokenization, investments in crypto, and laws. Let’s take a closer look at what the experts have said regarding investments and regulations.

What is the SEC thinking?

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, is a large independent agency of the federal government, created to protect investors, facilitate capital formation, regulate securities markets, and enforce the law against market manipulation. As for digital assets and cryptocurrencies, the SEC also plays an important role in regulating this space.

Hester Peirce, an SEC commissioner, who is one of the crypto’s advocates inside the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, took part in the discussion. Ms. Peirce was talking about the SEC’s mandate in relation to cryptocurrency.

The commissioner said that from her perspective, it’s important to maximize opportunities for the investors. In her opinion, the goal of the SEC is not only to protect the investors but also to regulate financial professionals to ensure they are treating their clients with respect.

When it comes to the relationship between SEC and the cryptocurrency market, she shared,

“It’s difficult to talk about cryptocurrencies all with a one blanket term because different crypto is used for different things. Certainly, some people use certain crypto assets as currencies as ways to transact with one another to pass value from one person to another. It’s difficult to take a blanket approach and say how the securities laws apply those circumstances because you can have something that someone is treating as a currency but we would nevertheless consider that to be a security.”

Besides, Hester Peirce touched upon important issues such as the ability to accept innovation by regulatory authorities. Ms. Peirce believes that it’s important to keep the security market dynamic and allow new competitors to come in.

The commissioner added,

“We want to make sure that we preserve this regulatory flexibility so as to keep the dynamism and that dynamism is what makes the U.S. a good place for people to come and innovate.”

ETF’s opportunity and regulatory risk

In this part of the LA Blockchain Summit, Anthony Scaramucci, crypto advocate, owner of SkyBridge, spoke about his company’s news, namely the launch of a Bitcoin ETF.

SkyBridge, a hedge-fund investment company, has recently laid the foundation of the current BTC ETF (exchange-traded fund). Mr. Scaramucci shared that a year ago they started doing extensive research in the realm of cryptos [BTC+ETH] and blockchain. These days, SkyBridge’s Bitcoin ETF application remains in limbo until SEC Chairman Gary Gensler decides whether to approve a crypto-based ETF.

Anthony Scaramucci commented,

“If you convince the SEC that you can have fair trading without any manipulation, the ETF will be approved.”

Skybridge set up a BTC fund in cooperation with First Trust. The fund aims to “provide investors with capital appreciation.” First Trust has retained SkyBridge Capital to serve as investment sub-advisor to the fund. SkyBridge will be responsible for the selection and monitoring of securities in the fund’s investment portfolios.

In addition to that, Mr. Scaramucci mentioned that if Washington wants the USA to take the center of the financial world and the capital market sector of the globe — they have to accept BTC and other elements of DeFi.

When it comes to his views on blockchain and cryptocurrencies in general, Mr. Scamarucci pointed out that blockchain made it possible to obtain something directly from the producer and it is a “software mechanism that allows two parties that may or may not necessarily trust each other to transact as if they were best friends.”

However, he is concerned about the centralization of some coins and thinks that they may augur inflation. At the same time, he has no worries about Bitcoin as it’s proven to be a serious and reliable player.

Day 3

The last day of the LA Blockchain Summit was full of news and opinions on various blockchains including Tezos, Casper, and Algorand, as well as cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Celebrating 10 years of Litecoin

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, spoke about the history of the cryptocurrency. He mentioned that he originally helped with the development of another token called Fairbrix which in the long run failed. Then, he decided to create Litecoin which was intended to become a lighter version of BTC.

Answering the question about the difference between Bitcoin and Litecoin, Mr. Lee noted that he wanted to create a coin that would be mined using a CPU, while BTC was mined via GPU, which consequently doesn’t imply any competition between Bitcoin and Litecoin miners. In addition to this, LTC has 4 times as many coins as BTC and its transaction speed is faster.

Miss Teen Crypto, the moderator of the panel, also asked Charlie Lee about how he feels that LTC has been running swimmingly and with no downtime since its genesis block. He said,

“It’s an amazing accomplishment. Not many coins can boast the same impressive performance. When I started working on LTC, I aimed to make it as close to BTC as possible and only change a few aspects — and this has worked quite well.”

To Charlie Lee’s mind, one of the best things about LTC is that it’s not been hacked.

Another huge milestone that Mr. Lee mentioned was the fact that LTC started to be accepted by global payment services such as PayPal and Venmo.

He remarked,

“LTC has been working flawlessly — and it’s an important aspect. People are not too enthusiastic about experiments when it comes to money and the network should provide a decent level of stability. That’s why companies like PayPal trust LTC.”

The Litecoin creator also announced a large LTC upgrade, aka MWEB, which stands for MimbleWimble Extension Blocks. The upcoming upgrade will give LTC more fungibility and financial privacy. The transacting amount is hidden: only you and the recipient will see how many coins you’ve sent. One more important point is that MWEB scales better than the BTC/LTC main chain.

Speaking of the next 10 years for LTC, the speaker commented,

“I never expected LTC to be where it is today. I created it for fun and the fact it’s survived is just mind-blowing. It’s hard to predict what will happen to LTC next. Currently, we’re focused on MWEB and we hope its launch will be successful. The end goal for crypto is to be used as real money in more countries as crypto is a better and more convenient form of money.”

He also added that LTC has a pretty good transaction speed, but they need to make some improvements to guarantee higher transaction throughput.

The evolution of Web 3.0; DeFi; NFTs and beyond

Justin Sun, CEO of BitTorrent and founder of TRON Foundation, was responsible for delivering closing remarks of the summit. He reflected on the main blockchain-related events that took place during the year, namely Bitcoin’s all-time high price, the emergence and success of new blockchain protocols, and the growing interest of institutions in cryptocurrencies and DeFi applications.

Mr. Sun remarked that we have also seen some sovereign states taking interest in cryptocurrency, e.g. El Salvador which is the first country that made Bitcoin a legal tender this year.

As for TRON, he noted,

“We got some great updates about TRON’s collaborations with some sovereign states. Hopefully, I will give you detailed updates about our collaboration with all those sovereign states at the end of this year, since we’ve already reached some agreements.”

Justin Sun recalled when and how he joined the crypto world in 2012. At the time, the industry was very small and there were only three cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, and XRP. Now, there are thousands of digital coins.

He mentioned how the TRON blockchain is doing these days,

“We settle over 10 billion dollars for the stablecoin. This is 5 times more than PayPal is doing. We are aiming to settle 1 trillion dollars in the next 5-10 years, which I think basically will make TRON surpass Swift, and become the largest stablecoin settlement platform in the world.”

Final thoughts

We at PixelPlex are very glad that the organizers of the LA Blockchain Summit preserve the tradition of holding an event every fall as this is the best time to review and analyze all of the major industry news, events, and trends over the year. Just like previous conferences, the 2021 summit brought together representatives of leading blockchain companies, startups, and service providers, as well as developers, investors, media, and just big crypto supporters.

We’re always excited to listen to professional opinions, informative speeches, and stories. By following such international blockchain events we keep up with the latest technology developments and make sure that you stay updated as well.

Check out our blog to learn more about blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and other tech and find out how various technologies can help your business shine even brighter!

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Anastasiya Haritonova

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