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Consensus 2017: Day Two




A recap of events at yesterday’s gathering for the Consensus 2017 Conference in New York.


CEO of Shapeshift Eric Voorhees joined Blockchain CEO Peter Smith on the main stage for day two of Consensus 2017 to discuss why Bitcoin and the cryptospace, in general, is booming.  

Smith suggested that Bitcoin's recent rise may be attributed to the renewed interest in the cryptocurrency space caused by the growing trend of initial coin offerings (commonly referred to as token sales or ICOs).  

Voorhees, who recently announced the release of Prism, an asset management platform based on executable distributed code contracts, described how Bitcoin's rise could be associated with the fact that cryptocurrency traders are selling newer, riskier digital assets while taking profits in Bitcoin. Voorhees suggested that traders are using Bitcoin as a safety net because it is currently the least speculative digital asset one could hold.

When asked what Bitcoin could do to eliminate the negative connotations associated with it, the panelists answered that the media is partly to blame for scaring away non-Bitcoin users because it often only publishes negative stories related to the cryptocurrency – as opposed to highlighting the positive aspects of the technology.

Abigail Johnson, chairman & CEO of Fidelity Investment, mentioned that she is a fan of the cryptocurrency space and is proud to be adding new Coinbase integration into Fidelity, which will allow users to see their Coinbase balances inside of their Fidelity accounts.

Token Tribes

A panel titled “Beyond Bitcoin and Ether - The Long-Tail of Blockchain Assets” brought together representatives from different cryptocurrency projects to cover the current state of blockchains and the countless digital assets that all seem to be exploding in popularity and market cap.

Joey Krug from Augur gave the panel an update on the current state of his prediction market platform and what we can expect for its native token, REP.  When commenting on development updates, Krug said, "Augur is just starting security audits on the trading part of the system and in a few weeks will begin to audit the reporting part of the system. Augur will be launching a bug bounty prior to going to live." Krug expressed that there are two kinds of blockchain projects: ones that add value to the system and ones that don't.  He suggested that Augur will be the former because it will have paid oracles.

Riccardo Spagni of Monero described the currency as a privacy project that has been experiencing a steady increase in transactions. When asked how the project intends to compete with a growing number of privacy-based tokens like Zcash and Dash, Spagni speculated that it’s ultimately likely that one will win out as the emerging pro-privacy currency.  

The panel discussed projects that have "premines" and Spagni noted a growing trend of enterprises that favor original developers, and described the phenomenon of developers rejecting the baseline model that has been proven to work. This trend was compared to other models that have more distributed tokenization structures.

Julian Zawistowski, of the Golem project, stressed the importance of developing a business model and longterm strategy, suggesting that projects consider structuring foundations and roadmaps that ensure project longevity.  Zawitowski said that even though Golem (GNT) is used for transactions, he doesn't consider it a currency.

The panel questioned if different aspects of raising money with traditional venture capital, such as Series A and Series B financing, could be implemented into blockchain projects, and pontificated upon how one can determine if certain projects are under or overvalued. The panel summarized the blockchain economy as tribes of unique token holders who are mutually incentivized to grow the network. 

When asked about the rising prices of the many tokens in the cryptocurrency world, Krug said "sentiment trading ... momentum trading. People are buying because the prices are going up!"

Energy Markets

Mark DAgostino of ConsenSys joined the Energy Markets panel to talk about the next generation of decentralized energy distribution and discussed a future where consumers trade energy amongst each other.  DAgostino described one of the main hurdles of building a distributed, decentralized energy grid as being a lack of batteries, and contemplated how we can incentivize users to store their own energy by creating smart batteries that could act as agents for their owners.  

The energy panel referenced the large amount of energy wasted when transporting energy from a centralized location. It described how building a distributed grid will start by syncing systems on the local level, but stressed the difficulties of scaling globally due to different national regulators associated with the space. The larger the market, the more difficult it's going to be to gain adoption.  

The panel described the transformation of the utility industry and explained how users could sign up to become a utility and act as a proxy on the network.  DAgostino envisioned a future in which many users could engage in a simple application that would make function calls on the public chain, thanks to merging Ethereum's Swarm with IoT devices.  

DAgostino commended Carsten Stoecker of RWE/Innogy Energy, who is exploring peer-to-peer energy solutions on the consumer-to-business side that operates on top of the public Ethereum blockchain today. Both parties explained being bullish about a decentralized energy grid being built on Ethereum thanks to the blockchain’s proposed updates for scaling solutions, such as Raiden.

DAgostino described how Grid+ removes administrative costs and allows users to secure their own energy which will result in the sustainability of more competitive energy rates, and will ultimately drive down the cost for users.

Engaging With Central Banks On Cryptocurrencies

A full day of panels at Times Square's Marriott Marquis included one called "Engaging Central Banks On Cryptocurrencies," which questioned if central banks around the world felt threatened by the advent of cryptocurrencies, and asked what they were doing to adopt these transformative technologies.  The panel commented on decentralized technology merging with centralized institutions, and collectively expected digital fiat would soon become common.

The consensus of the central banking panel was to affirm the growing awareness of the capacities and capabilities of blockchain and that many central banks are taking this technology very seriously. The panel stressed how merging mobile phones and blockchain would allow for a large percentage of the unbanked human population to come online –  the advent of such technology allows users to inevitably become global citizens.  

The panel summarized the movement towards globalization and questioned the longevity of the nation-state as we know it in the long term, and in the short term suggested central banks would be digitizing national fiat currencies to be able to adopt all the benefits offered by blockchain technology.

Closing Keynotes With Coinbase

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong took to the main stage as the final keynote speaker of the day and described his product "Token," which promises to create a mobile solution for a global economy.

John Kenny

John O Kenny is an Ethereum enthusiast who is passionate about decentralization. John does research and analysis of blockchain projects and is especially interested in blockchain in the energy sector. John is a proponent of decentralized governance and is currently developing what he describes as a "new & exciting DAO." John is a guest writer for ETHNews. His views and opinions do not necessarily constitute the views and opinions of ETHNews.

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