For the last five years, every spring CoinDesk has been hosting its blockchain technology conference Consensus in New York City. The idea is to bring together the top brands and developers in the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces to learn what’s new and what’s next. The event has grown to include the surrounding Blockchain Week, which includes both official and unofficial events thanks to the volume of attendees.
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What’s New in Blockchain?
Cryptocurrency is moving past the toddler stage and people are starting to pay more attention to the underlying blockchain technology. The CryptoNouveau event was a great place to meet the top thinkers in the blockchain space and learn where they think the technology is going next.
David Chaum, inventor of eCash, was there representing the company he founded, Elixxir, and to talk about cMix, which uses blockchain to create a secure, anonymous, digital method of communication, payments and app creation and usage. This has the potential to be revolutionary because it couples speed with protection of metadata, something not many blockchain applications can yet claim.
Jules Miller, partner at IBM Blockchain Ventures and cofounder and parter at Prose Ventures, spoke about IBM’s Blockchain accelerator in her opening remarks. This was followed by a lightning round of short talks by other industry leaders.
Tomer Sofinzon, founder and CEO of 20|30, spoke about his company’s efforts to create a universal wallet, as well as the Pillar Project, which is an open-sourced, nonprofit blockchain application that will give consumers control over their own personal information and reshape the relationship between consumers and service providers.
Ryan Feit of SeedInvest discussed how his company is raising funds for highly vetted startups, which began with a movement to change securities laws to allow companies to raise funds online, opening the market to people who had previously lacked access to capital.
Sebastian Serrano announced Ripio's launch of its all-in-one fintech platform, which serves South American populations who have traditionally not had access to banking and credit. The platform offers users access to peer-to-peer loans with smart contracts, digital banking and more.
Additional presenters at this lightning round event included Antonio Brasse of BlockQuake, a cryptocurrency network built on regulation and transparency, and Alex Mashinsky of Celsius Network, a cryptocurrency investing network that guarantees the highest returns on cryptocurrency investments thanks to their internal rules and methodologies. Brian Zisk talked about Chia, an environmentally friendly, enterprise-grade cryptocurrency.
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Consensus: The Big Show, But Not the Only Show
Last year Consensus was packed. They ran out of room at 8500 people after expecting 4000. As a result, people made plans for auxiliary activities in the area and Consensus was much less crowded. There was a distinct lack of Lamborghinis parked out front, and from what I have been told the conversations were more prevalent and of a higher quality thanks to the lack of overcrowding of the space.
While not registered for the main event, I was able to get together with a number of industry professionals, speaking with companies like Tangem, which makes smart bank notes with high grade security and irretrievable private keys to keep a user’s cryptocurrency safe.
“We believe the bitcoin price has bottomed and we are now entering a bull market with a strong likelihood of surpassing prior bitcoin highs of $19,000,” Balina said. “The initial exchange offering (IEO) trend has been a strong catalyst for the new bull market. Exchanges now have the responsibility of doing due diligence on new token offerings before making them available to their audience. They are regulatory concerns around this in some jurisdictions, but we don't think the trend will go away. However the investment returns might decrease as the IEO space becomes saturated.”
Blockchain week is a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world who are working on developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency spaces, whether you attend official Consensus events or unofficial blockchain week events. Next year promises to be even better.