Community Update — Consensus Edition

A few things we learned from attending Consensus 2018.

There were more than 8,400 people in NYC last week for Consensus 2018, one of the largest blockchain conferences in the world. The event was geared towards bringing some of the brightest minds in the space together to discuss big ideas, explore opposing viewpoints and do a bevy of networking.

A few members of the BlockCAT team headed down to NYC to participate in the event, with our main points of focus being on learning, sharing and connecting with other teams in the space to see how they were tackling some of the problems that we were.

We’ve compiled a list of notes, learnings and key takeaways from the event which you can read through below. We hope you enjoy it!

TL;DR:

  • 8,400+conference attendees.
  • Global leaders from Microsoft, IBM, Deloitte and FedEx in attendance.
  • The space is maturing and attracting more attention from major corps.
  • We networked and mingled with lots of really fascinating teams.
  • There is still lots of hype. Lamborghinis and lavish afterparty galore.

Major corporations + regulation.

One of the most fascinating aspects was not just how many industry titans were in attendance; but how many global corporations have been busy building/exploring blockchain solutions for their own businesses.

Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx, mentioned in detail how disruptive blockchain tech would be for his industry, which adds weight to the news we heard back in February about FedEx’ plan to integrate blockchain into its daily operations by joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA).

“Blockchain has the potential to completely revolutionize what’s across the border.” — Frederick W. Smith, CEO of FedEx

We watched Bridget van Kralingen from IBM Blockchain break down enterprise networks and a token driven economy. JT Rose and Marc Mercuri from Microsoft explained how you can create and deploy multi-parity apps with Azure.

During one of the panels, it was mentioned in passing that United States regulators are continuing to explore ICO’s and cryptocurrency, and there is no plan yet to suppress the sector. The government representatives that were on stage mentioned that there are no plans to hinder innovation in the field.

Our Takeaway:

Major corporations and industry leaders are moving at breakneck speeds to build (or support) various blockchain solutions.

Blockchain tech is not only being taken seriously, but record amounts of resources (both talent and financial) are being allocated to fully understand and utilize the technology for business applications.

Announcements, panels and talks.

On day one, we watched Joseph Lubin share the stage alongside Jimmy Song and Amber Baldet to discuss the feasibility of a decentralized internet, which ended with an impromptu bitcoin bet on the future of blockchain tech.

Amber Baldet, former head of blockchain at J.P. Morgan, announced a partnership with Patrick Mylund Nielson to launch a start-up called Clovyr, which aims to bring the flexibility and ease of use of modern application development to the blockchain domain.

Square CEO Jack Dorsey paired up with Lightning Lab’s Elizabeth Stark to discuss how using digital currency could allow a company like Square to offer it’s services to every nation on the planet, instead of the five they’re in now.

“The internet is going to have a native currency so let’s not wait for it to happen, let’s help it happen” … “The internet deserves a native currency.”
 — Jack Dorsey, Square (formerly Twitter).

Fellow Canadian blockchain enthusiast Alex Tapscott shared his taxonomy of crypto assets to a captive audience. We also watched a panel discussion on how blockchain could apply itself to the automotive industry, including owning your data collection from self-driving cars and preventing odometer fraud on used vehicles.

One of the most useful panels we attended featured our favourite podcast host, Laura Shin, which covered topics such as journalistic integrity, credibility, organic vs. sponsored content, pay-to-play and even PR strategy.

Editor’s note: If you’re not subscribed to Unchained (and as of recently, Unconfirmed) you’re seriously missing out. -Justin

Etoro announced their expansion into the US, along with a mobile wallet. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is partnering with Consensys to make enterprise blockchains easier and faster to deploy.

Our Takeaway:

From big ideas to tactical PR application, it was fairly easy for our team to split up and find valuable information from the various tracks at the conference (although it often required us to jump from room-to-room).

The hype is real.

We’re not going into too much detail on this topic, but the hype surrounding the crypto space is alive and well… especially during NYC Blockchain Week. ICO’s, token giveaways, lamborghini’s and “moon” chats were in full swing.

There was an unparalleled level of fluff on display, and ads were plastered in every direction you looked. Suits were on the prowl, which didn’t quite feel representative of the crypto community we’ve grown accustomed to.

Our Takeaway:

This didn’t detract from the event too much, but it didn’t add to it either.

Community networking.

Last but not least, we spent a lot of time learning, sharing and connecting with other teams at the event.

We connected with folks from Qtum, Ripple, Jaxx, Ledger, MyEtherWallet, Gem, OmniSparx, ConsenSys, Zcash and many more.

We discussed common challenges, opportunities, infrastructure and technical hurdles, along with possible areas for collaboration in the future.

We met Whitfield Diffie, a master cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography, at an exclusive MEW and MetaCert afterparty.

We also mingled with some of our community members who were in attendance. We haven’t had the opportunity to meet too many people from our community IRL so far, so this was pretty special for us.

What really impressed us, though, was how many people recognized us from our BlockCAT t-shirts — and stopped us to praise the work we’re doing. We were humbled to hear people’s thoughts on Tabby Pay, our attitude towards crypto and even the effort we put into our weekly updates. 👍

Our Takeaway:

One of the most valuable elements of the event was connecting with other teams to fully understand the challenges they’re facing — which opened up a number of opportunities for working together in the future.

Random tidbits:

  • The sheer scale of money/resources being dedicated to blockchain tech
  • Over 1 million Ledger units sold. Wow.
  • UX is a consistent barrier to entry. People won’t use something that feels unsafe, or requires a “how-to” manual. This rang true for marketers and developers alike.
  • Growing a userbase for dApps is challenging, according to many of the teams we’ve talked to. Interest and demand tend to outweigh the actual number of real-world users .
  • Canada is becoming a hub for blockchain innovation. We’re proud. 🇨🇦
  • Fake protests get an impressive amount of attention from the media.
  • Networking: These events are the most powerful catalyst for connecting with other passionate people in this space. We will be attending more.

That’s it for this week! If you have any questions, be sure to join our Discord channel, tweet to us on Twitter or chime in on the /r/BlockCAT subreddit!

Written by Justin Veenema, Community Strategist at BlockCAT.

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