An interesting day of presentations about Blockchain at Blockchain Summit London from a range of speakers – from large and small organisations.
It appears that Blockchain is moving from the early adopter stage and getting more mainstream interest.
We need to think beyond the technology
The basic idea of distributed ledger technology is what many people are interested in. Raymond Cross of SAP talked about what enterprises look for – and it is much more than technology.
The technology is only one component for enterprises. They also need to think about their existing operations – the scale of them in particular – and how they can move without disruption and risk.
That means that they want to know about standardisation and process and the way in which their business will operate in five or ten years and create a transformation plan that moves them from where they are now to an intelligent enterprise
Regulation is coming
The blockchain space, and most visibly cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have been something of a wild west, with regulators and governments scrambling to keep up with the technology and its implications.
KPMG talked about how governments around the world take different views, from acceptance in Gibralter to bans in China. Where you set up matters. Tax is complicated – and where your company is located is one component, but the residency of directors could also affect things.
One thing is clear – governments will want their taxes, and the rules around money laundering, terrorist financing and knowing who your clients are will help enforce this.
There aren’t enough advisors for the need
Many people want to know about how to invest in cryptocurrencies, and traditional advisors are struggling to keep them informed.
Or Barmatz of Crypto Finance said that millenials in particular want to have this as part of their asset mix, but cannot find people who understand and can explain what their options are.
At the same time, funds are starting up that allow a range of investors to add these assets to their portfolio mix, so eventually crypto may become a standard part of portfolios.
Venture Capitalists are adapting
Traditionally startups went to VCs, cap in hand, asking for money.
Now entrepreneurs are starting to question why they need VCs and Silicon Valley at all, when they can go directly to the public and raise staggering amounts of money in minutes.
VCs are adapting, pointing out that it takes $200-300,000 to run a successful ICO – actually the new name is Token Sales, and they can help with that initial funding.
So, they’re setting up accelerators and trying to identify even earlier stage startups to invest in – which vaguely reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon where a VC asks a couple if their unborn child is going to be an engineer and if he can invest something now…
BOTs will be treated like illegal aliens
We’re moving towards a world where bots are everywhere – automated programs that do things for us.
In that world, however, if someone takes control of your bot – say one that you trust to do all your banking – they could steal all your money.
And bad people are working hard to figure out how to do just that.
So, the good guys are probably going to have to come up with a way to register bots – check that they can only do what they are allowed to do, and register them using identity technology.
That could be interesting for governments – now not only do they need to manage people but also the bots living in their jurisdictions.
Peer to peer is the future
My favourite quote of the day is from Associate Professor Alex Nortas who says inefficient coercive pyramids rule society.
He put up an example, with Black Insurance, of how people could collaboratively create and fund products through a platform, without having to go through the traditional structures that exist today.
These models are still developing – but it’s clear that they are coming and are going to change many industries – making them more accessible to more people, freeing up capital and driving down costs as a result.
Which sounds like a good thing – it’s more efficient after all to connect the people with money and the people with an idea directly – and that looks like how things will increasingly happen in the future.