Ethereal Summit Highlights: Day 1

The first day of Ethereal demonstrated that the race to drive blockchain innovation is a global one.

Governments around the world are preparing themselves for the blockchain revolution. Some are on defense, warming themselves up for a fight against fraud, while others are taking a more optimistic approach and creating a welcoming environment for innovation.

This was one of the main themes echoed in most every talk Friday, the first day of Ethereal 2018.

One of the morning panels featured Caitlin Long, founder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. Long has her JD, but spent much of her career on Wall Street; the 2008 economic crisis led her to investigate the potential of a decentralized financial system, and she found bitcoin. She recently pioneered the passage of five blockchain bills in Wyoming, making it one of the most “crypto friendly” states in the US.

Rahilla Zafar, managing director of Consensys, moderated a panel on Saudi Arabia’s venture into the blockchain world, and how the country is moving from an oil-based economy to one based on technology and innovation. Vision 2030, which Zafar calls “one of the most aggressive plans in the world,” is the country’s effort to diversify its economy; it’s likely that the crash of Venezuela’s single commodity driven economy was the wakeup call to inspire this movement. A country that is not widely known for being progressive – technologically or socially – is preparing to outpace Dubai in the race of blockchain adoption.

“In order to be successful in innovation, you have to make sure you’re not too rigid in regulation,” said Bermuda’s Premier, E. David Burt. Burt’s background in finance and technology, combined with the small size and nimbleness of his island’s government, has allowed him to transform Bermuda into a welcoming hub for crypto innovation. Binance recently reached an agreement with Bermuda’s government to invest $10 million into educational programming for the island’s residents.

Sandra Ro, CEO of Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), referenced a predicament Barbados is facing, following the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma. The majority of the land is owned by the public, so when real estate groups offered to purchase land to build a resort, citizens were outraged that they weren’t consulted. The hurricane destroyed 95% of the island’s infrastructure, so any sort of traditional voting procedure would be a challenge to execute. The GBBC has proposed a blockchain-based voting system that would give citizens the opportunity to voice their opinion in this matter.

Ro also mentioned the GBBC’s consulting work for Vanuatu, in helping it to prepare for natural disasters – in maintaining order, distributing funds, and ensuring that money doesn’t mysteriously disappear in the craze of disaster relief.

When asked about America’s role in setting a standard for blockchain regulation, Ro brushed it off; although New York is arguably the financial capital of the world, she believed – and the audience largely agreed – that America’s input isn’t necessary in driving the global blockchain revolution.

Roni Rose is the founder of Blockchain Bea, a podcast that teaches non-technical people about the basics of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech in a fun and casual way, as well as introduces them to ventures using blockchain to make a positive impact.

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