Salon Night #4
March 1st, 2018

Likened to the dotcom bubble or tulip fever in the Dutch Golden Age, bitcoin has caused the world to grow skeptical while making avid believers into billionaires. Are bitcoin and other altcoins investments or mere speculation? Jamie Dimon intensified the curiosity surrounding this topic after he retracted his dismissive statement, and seats for this salon were snapped up within two hours.

Some questioned the reliability of cryptocurrency as there are growing jurisdictions against it. Some cited the dangers as there was a major heist on Coincheck, the Japanese crypto exchange. Others wondered if the crash would stop as $100 billion had been wiped off in just 24 hours.

There were those who quizzed the actions of the government. Are they clamping down on crypto because they cannot influence their monetary policy with it? The panelists clarified that while local authorities are not pro-crypto, they are supportive of blockchain — the technology behind it. They also pointed out that while exchange risk is high, Coincheck promised to pay back customers coin for coin.

Having this tension is good. Hype is not a bad word, neither is speculation. Speculation creates interest, resources, innovation, and attention — crucial ingredients to generate funding. Google and Facebook, for example, started after the dotcom bubble. While crypto seemed to be the talking point for the attendees, it was blockchain that got the panelists excited.

Blockchain decentralises ownership as we grow into a more digitally integrated global economy. Aighee Ong, artist, political aficionado, and founder of a blockchain company, wants to marry the potential of blockchain with the future of art. This may have opened a can of worms towards the risks and limitations of merging digital with the physical, but she believes that blockchain will put an end to art forgery.

“10 years ago, people were uncomfortable with the idea of home sharing. Today, Airbnb is flourishing and has become the norm. It is the same with blockchain. We just need time to adapt to change.”

As the technology develops, so will viewpoints and perspectives. The conversation does not end here. We might flip-flop on bitcoin but one thing’s for sure, blockchain is the future.