A post by Erwin Voloder, Senior Policy Fellow, European Blockchain Association
On February 15-17, after 7 highly successful events, the European Blockchain Convention 2023 is ready to again welcome more than 3.000 attendees to sunny Barcelona. Although at present, it seems like dark clouds are looming over our industry… . I’m ready to hear from more than 200 exceptional industry experts about their views on the future of the industry and I am looking forward to representing the European Blockchain Association, our members and the vision we have for Europe’s decentralized future. [Want to join us? Make sure to use code EBA25 to get a 25% discount on tickets!]
If you have an internet connection you’ve been watching a major crypto exchange blow up in real time, complete with Twitter drama, billions in losses, retail bag holders running for the exits, a bankruptcy, and calls for criminal charges all in less than the span of a couple weeks.
To say that the whole thing has left many with confidence firmly shaken is an understatement. Regulators that are already convinced a tougher stance is needed to reign in the ‘crypto wild west’ could only find themselves emboldened amidst the unfolding drama. But as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining.
Glass half full
The stunning implosion of FTX is a watershed moment for our industry – if the collapse of Terra/Luna, Celsius and Voyager Digital already this year didn’t qualify for the top slot. It is also in a way an indictment of the nested dependencies of centralized systems where larger than life personalities can often muddy the waters and convince even the most seasoned venture investors that ‘this time is different.’ Maybe Sam should’ve read Reinhart and Rogoff’s book? Here, there have been many calls arguing DeFi could have at least cushioned the fall if not outright deflected the damage.
After almost 15 years since Bitcoin’s Genesis block, we are indeed still in the ‘early days’ of our industry. But unlike the dawn of the modern stock exchange at the turn of the 20th century – crypto and blockchain had a Cambrian explosion. Now you can argue that it was building on the foundations of over a century of modern financial history and therefore had the bits and pieces in place to hit the ground running. But I would argue that this speed is also a reminder of the transformative effect of frontier technologies – and the place they hold in modern society.
We are an industry that has managed to pull in billions in funding, attract the world’s preeminent financial institutions, venture capital firms and even governments to buy in to the idea that blockchain technology is a real departure from business as usual. This has also fomented a powerful retail investor army, and a cult-like following both online and in real life. In doing so it has also brought in opportunists, scam artists and short-term thinking which brings more froth than a banana milk shake.
Themes, themes, and more themes
As we look to the future and seek to establish a permanent position for our industry we are also at the point where we can no longer continue going on as we have. So, for this year’s European Blockchain Convention, I am especially excited to listen to the boots on the ground projects building on real utility. I’m also looking forward to hearing about how Europe is a front-runner when it comes to setting up the necessary regulatory perimeter for the industry to flourish AND maintain a balance with consumer protection standards.
I’m ready to hear from more than 200 exceptional industry experts – among them Dotun Rominiyi, Director of emerging technology, London Stock Exchange, Emma Landriault, Blockchain & Digital Asset Product Lead, Scotiabank, and Dr. Thomas Nägele, Managing Partner Nägele, Attorneys at Law whom I am especially looking forward to meet again – about their views on the future of the industry. I am interested in discussing the latest advances in digital identity and how distributed ledgers can open up a new world of KYC/KYB where everything from federated data market places, to P2P buying and selling online can make use of on-chain attestations. I am curious about the way in which central bank digital currencies will be received and perceived given that stablecoins are definitely ascending and governments are diligently working towards updating their own payment rails. I look forward to sharing my own thoughts on these issues and more – both in discussions with fellow speakers – and especially with and participants and on the EBC stage.
Finally, I look forward to representing the European Blockchain Association, our members and the vision we have for Europe’s decentralized future.