Serving as a Tufts representative at the HBS Blockchain and Crypto Conference provided invaluable insight into the directionality of the crypto space and the vast and diverse array of professional career opportunities available. Below, I outline key points/takeaways from keynote speakers and panelists attending the conference.
Joshua Stein- CEO of Harbor
Private capital lacks fractional ownership and liquidity. Harbor seeks to digitize private securities with the hope of unlocking liquidity. The current state of private fundraising and equity exchange is marred by third-party intermediaries that heavily regulate private capital flexibility. For example, if James Dolan wants to raise $20 million for the Knicks, then he taps into a limited number of profligate investors. Harbor solutions suggests that the $20 million call should be digitized and unbundled into smaller investment vehicles. Maybe market price for these smaller investment vehicles stabilizes at $50,000. Now, this is an attractive investment! Many New Yorkers would be willing to spend $50,000 for equity in there Knicks. Moreover, the investment would be supplemented by perks like all-court access, meet the players, etc. Harbor’s platform uses the blockchain in tangent with Reg D, Reg CF, and tokens.
Panel — Crossing the Chasm
For mainstream adoption, the blockchain and crypto ecosystem need to hurdle over obstacles such as reliable crypto custody solutions for institutional investors, scalability, and price volatility. Last week, I delivered a presentation on the MakerDao Dai stablecoin product. Dai is a crypto-collateralized stablecoin that achieves stability through a gamut of automated features. As a lending platform, MakerDao’s Das is at the forefront of open finance blockchain integration. Gregory DiPrisco, Head of Business Development at MakerDao, explained that there’s a tradeoff debate over ease-of-use and liquidity for crypto products. DiPrisco vehemently supported the need for liquidity. Without liquidity, there’s no utility.
Panel — Embracing Innovation on Wall Street
Issuance, settlement, delivery, and liquidity were the main talking points addressed by panelists. Stefan Qin, managing partner at Virgil Capital, revealed that some digital assets are being wash traded by market manipulators. High frequency crypto traders, especially, are capable of wash trading crypto by rapidly buying digital assets to ramp up prices. Eventually prices bottom out and market manipulators are able to ride the wave.
OTC transactions are also of great concern. Currently, most OTC transactions take place over social media platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. To garner venerability from legacy firms, OTC transactions must undergo formalization.
Adam White- Bakkt COO
The Intercontinental Exchange announced Bakkt as a platform for physically delivered Bitcoin futures. I see Bakkt as a way to traditionalize and institutionalize cryptocurrency. Apparently there’s a difference between cash settled and physically delivered futures contracts. I need to do more research about the Bakkt platform to talk about its adoption implications.
Panel — Venture Capital Firms
VC firms view blockchain technology investments as a long-term, patient investment. We also see the flow of VC money tied to blockchain infrastructure. VC firms believe crypto adoption is more than a decade away. Before propagating second, third, and fourth layer protocols, it’s imperative to consolidate fundamental infrastructure. With the internet we connected information. The blockchain allows us to connect value to that information. Seeing into the future is a good trait in business. It takes a true visionary to fund the future.