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The Key Takeaways From Blockchain's Biggest Week


A ticket to the 2018 CoinDesk Consensus blockchain conference in New York cost almost as much as a Super Bowl ticket, and attendance was around 8,500 people, putting it in league with the 10 most expensive conferences in the world.

Blockchain is a big deal, and this year’s conference underscores the intensifying competition to harness the disruptive power—across industries—of one of the most significant technological developments of our time.

Anyone who is anyone in the blockchain space was there for the 3-day fest:

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And the $2,000 a head for advance tickets, and $3,000 for last-minute admission, netted the CoinDesk-organized conference some $17 million in ticket sales—and that’s even after bitcoin lost half of its value since it’s December high of nearly $20,000 a coin.

That’s because it’s not just about cryptocurrencies: It’s about revolutionizing every single industry known to man, from healthcare, shipping and global payments to finance, banking and even charity and government. There’s nothing it can’t reach, and its attendee list read like a Who’s Who of Everything.

Some described it as a sort of crypto ‘Coachella’ (perhaps with less style) complete with rented Lamborghinis parked out front, taps pouring out cryptobeer, and plenty of cryptobling on sale.

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But over-the-top ostentation aside, the event itself featured the biggest names in blockchain tech, from Twitter founder/Square CEO Jack Dorsey and Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, to Pantera CEO Dan Morehead and, well…all the big tech companies, including Microsoft, IBM and others. Related: The Tech Giant Using Blockchain To Fight Poverty

And since regulation is the biggest issue for cryptocurrencies right now, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also held the podium.

Absent apparently, though, was Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who said in April that he would boycott the conference, partly due to the high-priced tickets, which he called “rent-seeking”, but mostly because he was punishing CoinDesk for what he said was sensationalist reporting and complicity in enabling giveaway scams. 

Here’s a round-up of some key takeaways of the hotter-than-hot conference:

#1 Dorsey Wants Bitcoin to Be the Internet’s ‘Native Currency’

"The internet is going to have a native currency so let's not wait for it to happen, let's help it happen," Dorsey told the conference Wednesday. "I don't know if it will be bitcoin but I hope it will be."

"If we were able to use it a currency today, we could release our apps in every app store around the world instead of the five we're in," Dorsey said.

#2 Common Standards for Ethereum

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, launched a year ago with backing from heavy-hitters like oil giant BP and JPMorgan Chase, used the conference to unveil much-awaited ‘common standards’ for Ethereum after months of collaboration among the 500-member group. The group’s executive director, Ron Resnick, told the conference:

“The EEA’s Enterprise Ethereum Specification is the result of 18 months of intense collaboration between leading enterprise, technology and platform members within our technical committee. This EEA open-source, cross-platform framework will enable the mass adoption at a depth and breadth otherwise unachievable in individual corporate silos.”

So if Dorsey is gunning for ‘native’ bitcoin, the EEA’s common standards put Ethereum in the running.

#3 A Blockchain Phone, Courtesy of Taiwan?

We also learned at the conference that Taiwanese HTC is making a ‘blockchain phone’; or more specifically, the Exodus handset. As detailed on its website, HTC’s “vision is to expand the blockchain ecosystem by creating the world’s first phone dedicated to decentralized applications and security. With the release of the HTC Exodus we can now make this a reality.”

#4 Wall Street Suits Came Looking for Jobs …

It seems to be a thing lately—Wall Street suits giving it all up for a ride on the crypto train. According to Forbes, one Wall Street worker told them investment banking was boring and she hit up the Blockchain Conference to look for a crypto gig instead.

#5 Regulators Suggest They Will Be “Technology Neutral”

“Cryptocurrencies can evolve and become something different than they are today,” CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz told the conference. “I’m encouraged that the concept of something evolving is being considered in this debate. […] Government regulatory policy should not hinder innovation [or] pick winners and losers [but] should be technology neutral.”

Related: Anonymous Cryptos And The Death Of Taxes

Dan Morehead, the founder of San Francisco-based Pantera Capital, said worries over regulation are exaggerated. “Markets are vastly overhyping regulatory risk,” he said. “The SEC has been very moderate.”

But while regulators addressed the conference, the SEC simultaneously launched a parody website for a fake ICO (HoweyCoins), complete with mock celebrity endorsements and the obligatory ‘white paper’—just to make a point to the vulnerable about the dangers of falling victim to rampant scam initial coin offerings …

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#6 Blockchain Will Let Us Sell Our Own Data (so Facebook Doesn’t Have to Give It Away)

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Nokia (among others) unveiled partnerships at the conference with Swiss startup Streamer—a blockchain data marketplace developer. The very timely twist here is that these partnerships would allow consumers to put their data on the blockchain and then sell it widely to anyone who’s interested. And if you’ve never heard of Streamr, it managed to raise $30 million in an ICO last year…so it’s off to a good start that’s about to get even better.

#7 Don’t forget the after party …

It was hosted by Ripple and headlined by Snoop Dogg

#8 Still Waiting for Bitcoin to Rise on All the Buffoonery and Attention

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Bitcoin saw some gains on Monday when the conference opened, but since then, there hasn’t been the expected rally.

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com

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