M-0 Day 1 Roundup !!

The first blockchain for Asset Management conference kicked off in CryptoValley Zug on October 17th with an invigorating group of people with a no sponsors, content only program …

… which is exactly what followed…

Johann Gevers of Monetas, Tezos Foundation and Crypto Valley gave the first keynote which set the scene perfectly and highlighted the rise of digital assets as an asset class and the increasing number of considerations around token types, blockchains and what it means for our future.

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Melon Protocol News

Mona El Isa gave a Melonport progress update and described how Melonport expects to be significantly ahead of schedule. The team expect to have delivered on all promises by February 2018, one year ahead of time and including a basic form of governance. Additionally, not only does Melonport expect to deliver on all goals set out but also built a few other cool things along the way. These included:

  • Melonport — Oyente collaboration : A smart-contract verification tool which is used to ensure smart-contracts do what they are supposed to do and massively reduce the risk of attack-vectors. This security tool is now open-source and available for everyone to use.
  • A next generation smart-contract development tool running on Dapp framework integrating Oyente analysis tool
  • A secure, reliable, permission-less front-end running on IPFS!
  • Melon-mail — In collaboration with Decenter we built a secure encrypted messaging service to be used between investors and managers of Melon funds!

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Travis Jacobs of Melonport gave a window into the next generation of smart contract development. He described some of the changes that the Melon team has made to their tech stack. This included switching to the more modular Dapp framework, as well as increasing security by integrating the Oyente analysis tool into their build process. Overall, a novel tool pipeline for solidity development was outlined, with stability and security in mind.

“Let’s start a conversation, and push Smart Contract development into the next generation”
— Travis Jacobs

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Joey Krug walked us through a demo of Oyente-Melonport’s smart contract verification tool and showed an example of how it could flag for vulnerablilities in smart-contracts.

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Melonport’s Head of UX/Front-end Simon Emanuel Schmid presented the Javascript library Melon.js which makes the Melon protocol easy to interact with. He also unveiled a trading bot built on top of Melon.js and showed it interacting with a Melon fund on the test net.

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Melonport’s Jenna Zenk then revealed the new Melon Front-end deployed on IPFS. She showcased the main functionality of this new Front-end and highlighted the three guiding principles around it;

Reliable, permissionless and ownerless…..
Reliable in the sense that it is easily accessible, secure and lasts over time.
Permissionless in the sense that the Melonport team doesn’t have any power over who uses the open-source protocol or not.
Ownerless in the sense that there is no single point of failure and it is owned by no-one. Running on multiple servers, IPFS ensures that if one server goes down — the front end can keep running as long as the other servers are still good — Jenna Zenk

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Andrej Cvoro, Founder of Decenter demonstrated the capabilities of the new decentralized and encrypted messaging system, Melon Mail. Managers and Investors can now interact with each other and encrypt messages with their private keys. It doesn’t get better than that! Amazing work from the Decenter team and awesome design by Ahmad Afandi !

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The conference then switched gear and heard from various “token issuers” in the new world Asset management system:

ARAGON

Luis Cuende of Aragon gave us an update on the governance models that Aragon are now working on. Aragon is building a platform for creating and managing decentralized organizations on top of Ethereum. Thanks to the new AragonOS architecture third party developers can build custom applications or modules that run directly in the organization, which allows for the creation and experimentation with different governance models.

For more, check out their latest blog on modular and extensible governance organisations.

LENDROID

Vignesh Sundaresan presented Lendroid, which is an on-chain leverage system. Lendroid enables Margin Trading and Short Selling of ERC20 Tokens where the collateral, interest payments and enforcement is all managed at a smart contract level. In other words, the loans themselves take the form of ERC 20 tokens which is an entirely new and exciting asset class of tokens.

GEORGE HALLAM MODERATES PANEL OF TOKEN ISSUERS

George Hallam moderated a panel on asset universes; the discussion covered many aspects of the new emerging digital asset class. On the panel was Joey Krug (Augur), Hadi Kabalan (Otonomos), Jorge Izquierdo(Aragon) and Jacek Czarnecki (Neufund) all of which are creating interesting types of tokens with different characteristics and properties.

The panel discussed their experiences with regulators. Tokens issued as securities by design give greater comfort to regulators and cross border trading with KYC, but may miss the new paradigm of the token economy. Tokens issued as non-securities can reflect a new financial compact between issuers and users, but my face other challenges further down the line.

Everyone agreed that both need to comply with advertising standards.

It was good to see both perspectives presented and there was no clear cut answer except to conclude that regulators are evolving with the industry. What was clear; echoing what Johann Gevers said at the start of the day, we are walking towards a tokenized future where everything will be liquid and tokenized (equities, leverage, bonds, crypto, etc).

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COSMOS

Sunny Aggarwal gave an insight on Cosmos and how to have different chains communicate with each other.

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At this point, the theme switched from token issuers to the Fund Managers of this new asset class.

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CONSENSYS CAPITAL

Andrew Keys of Consensys Capital gave an inspiring talk on building the transaction layer for the next generation of the web and challenged the value of the middle man later giving examples.

“”I can see a world where smart contracts implement real time tax”
— Andrew Keys

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SEAN PARK (Anthemis) MODERATES CRYPTO ASSET MANAGERS PANEL

Sean Park took the stage together with Ryan Zurrer (Polychain), Satoshi Kaboyashi (SmartContractJapan) Keld Van Schreven (Kryptonite1), Andrew Keys (ConsenSys Capital), Joey Krug (Pantera) and Jacek Czarnecki (Neufund).

The conversation quickly focused on the challenges crippling crypto asset managers today including the need to have a custodian in a world where crypto custodians are rare and few. Other themes were that fund administrators can’t cope with the accounting of crypto funds and extracting information for reporting is fairly difficult.

“If you want to do book keeping you typically have to get all the info from the exchanges”
— Satoshi Kobayashi

The challenges around KYC/AML also came up time and time again as well as the fact that today’s fund administrators are struggling to cope with auditing and accounting of funds.

The conversation then shifted back to the benefits of blockchain technology and why we were all gathered at M-0 in the first place

“Melon protocol can be the disruptor of asset management simply by providing an infrastructure for technology regulated funds”
— Keld Van Schreven

Joey Krug of Pantera also made some interesting points on the regulatory scene.

“One thing the SEC lawyer said at the recent hearing was ‘I don’t care about the technology, I only care about regulating it’
— Joey Krug

He also added that more action, less talk would be welcome in some cases. There were unanimous nods of agreement from the audience there..

“What would be more interesting than more regulation… would be selective enforcement of the laws against some of the clearly unethical behaviour in this space”
— Joey Krug

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uPORT

Paul Kohlhaas from uPort gave a live demo and talked about self sovereign identity in the city of Zug. He elaborated on an exciting three way collaboration taking place between uPort ConsenSys and Canton of Zug where it would be possible to whitelist investors in to Melon funds which have been KYC’s by uPort/ Canton of Zug.

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MIKE BUTCHER (Tech Crunch) moderates panel on Blockchain Regulation in Asset Management

Mike Butcher from TechCrunch moderated a panel on the current state of regulation in the space and about the necessary adjustments that the regulatory space must make in the wake of this new paradigm. Other panelists included Dr Luka Muller, Michele Hess (PWC), Jeremy Millar (ConsenSys), Tina Balzli (PWC), William Mougayar (Business Blockchain) and James Slazas (ConsenSys Capital). There was a lot of talk about AML and KYC concerns and ultimately very little focus on the benefits of blockchain technology. Towards the end of the discussion, this came into focus with a great quote from MME’s Luka Muller.

“AML can burden a lot of the freedom blockchain can offer” — Dr Luka Muller

This, together with a question from the audience reminded everyone there that the benefits around technology regulated funds for example and the transparency as well as real time benefits you get with blockchain are why we all got interested in the first place!

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Announcing “MAMA” — Multichain Asset Managers Association

Mona El Isa, co-founder and CEO of Melonport announced the incorporation of MAMA, the Multi-Chain Asset Management Association incorporated in Zug by Melonport AG, MME Legal Tax & Compliance and Bussmann Advisory supported by the Canton of Zug Economic Affairs as a networking partner.

The goal of this Association is to provide a forum for discussion among Association members who will also be the drivers towards a unified, industry-wide voice to tackle issues such as:

  • Shaping regulation in MAM technology and promoting industry-wide best practices
  • Self-regulating in the absence of non-clear regulatory guidelines
  • Research and education in and around the MAM technology ecosystem
  • Promoting security best practices paramount to MAM technology
  • Taking a leadership role in defining and setting industry standards for MAM
  • Shaping future governance procedures around MAM systems
  • Working with other bodies to provide best practice and guidance around Token issuance

The founding members included:

University of Luzern, Credit Suisse AG, Passport Capital, JTC Group, Melonport AG, MME Legal Tax Compliance, Bussmann Advisory, ConsenSys uPort, Bitcoin Suisse, Crypto Fund AG, Kenetic Capital, Lendroid, 0x Project, Ethfinex, Omega One, Vo1t, Kryptonite 1, Cyber Fund, Neufund, Midas Technologies AG, Lakeside Partners and Virtual Capital Ventures

For full press release, click here.

Finally, we ended the day with some light entertainment;

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THE PITTS CIRCUS UNVEILED — FIRST EVER ETHEREUM FUNDED FILM

Finally, Tony Caranna offered an unforgettably electrifying talk and exciting preview of the first Ethereum-funded movie, The Pitts Circus. Left us all wanting more…. What a fun way to finish day one !

Day 2 write up to follow…