With people now looking beyond the banking industry for promising use cases built on blockchain technology, BlockShow Europe 2017 could not have come at a better time. Held April 6-7 at the Alte Kongresshalle in Munich, Germany, the event attracted more than 560 people and featured 26 speakers – making it the largest international blockchain event in Europe to date. Organized by Cointelegraph in partnership with nexussquared and BlockPay, BlockShow Europe provided ample opportunity for networking, knowledge sharing, and education.
The event attracted a mostly young, entrepreneurial crowd, many of whom were already working in established Bitcoin and blockchain startups. Innovation experts from the corporate sector were also on hand, as well as “explorers” who were just getting familiar with the technology. According to Cointelegraph, more than 200 individual networking meetings took place during the event.
Notable and Quotable
Moderator Elizabeth Lumely, a leading expert on fintech solutions and managing director of Rainmaking, guided the program in a constructive exchange that offered information useful to both Bitcoin and blockchain people alike. She shared the results of a recent survey by Cointelegraph, which asked, what is necessary for blockchain in the enterprise? 57% of respondents answered “security first for Bitcoin.” 43% answered “smart contract Ethereum.”
Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem presented the opening keynote, “The Current State of the Blockchain.” During his address, Shrem, founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and currently responsible for business development for cryptocurrency exchange Changelly, compared blockchain technology with the power of the printing press for its potential to remove corruption, power, and control out of the hands of the few and back into the hands of the people. Shrem said, “The printing press gave people the ability to publish their own information very cheaply across borders around the world and distribute it in a decentralized way. Bitcoin is the printing press of our time. And Blockchain technology is what’s powering that.”
Trust: The Decisive Factor
Panel discussions took on provocative hot topics like the challenges of blockchain implementation and initial coin offerings (ICOs) of cryptocurrencies. Panel experts agreed that blockchain technology is good for solving issues of trust, which they said seems to be the best measure for evaluating the promise of use cases. The blockchain community however is faced with challenges common to new technologies: lack of standardization; fee structure; interoperability between different blockchains; and absence of relevant legislation. One hurdle for new users of the technology may be a willingness to accept full responsibility for their data and use of the technology. As one panelist noted, there is no Blockchain Help Line, for example, in the event that you lose your privacy key.
The banking industry was represented with a keynote from Philipp Kroemer, associate for Investment Banking Business Strategy and Innovation at Commerzbank, describing the blockchain-related projects underway at Commerzbank. In another keynote that resonated well with the audience, Milan Sallaba, partner at Deloitte, shared his organization’s insights and advice on how entrepreneurs can move from blockchain use cases to scalable production.
Use Cases Showcase Breadth of New Technology
Throughout the day, startups took to the main stage to present their blockchain use cases and business models. Here is a sampling of just a few:
Energy: The aim of SolarChange is to incentivize people to produce solar energy and sell it back into the grid. Developing nations can even sell their solar energy into the grid. The blockchain billing mechanism allows people to track how much energy they are feeding into the grid.
Content Distribution: DECENT provides a peer-to-peer content distribution network, without the absorbent fees associated with traditional publishing houses. Content on the network includes books, blogs, music, and video provided directly from the artist or author. DECENT’s Caesar testnet launched in March. It plans to launch its mainnet in June.
Supply Chain: Kouvala Innovation Oy, based in Finland, is using blockchain technology to enable an information backbone for movement of goods Europe-wide – or the “Internet for Logistics” – so that every logistics company on the network can benefit from a new level of transparency into shipping activities. Test results with live data are expected at end of June.
Intellectual Property: Bernstein.io is using blockchain-based, secured digital certificates to create a trail of record for inventors’ creations. Digital certificates can also be attached to NDA confidentiality agreements to establish the existence of a creation and record who knew of it. Legal acceptance of blockchain certificates is developing rapidly because they provide reliable documentation for clients.
Fine Art: Verisart is a startup that is using blockchain technology to provide verification of authenticity for fine art.
Blockchain Oscar Competition: More Use Cases!
The event also featured a Blockchain Oscar Competition to select the most promising startups working with blockchain technology. The winner for “Most Innovative Blockchain Startup” was etherisc, a German startup specialized in providing a blockchain solution for the insurance industry that uses smart contracts. The prize in this category was €5000 worth of Bitcoins. The winner for “Startup with the Biggest Potential for Betterment of Humanity” was SolarChange. The prize in this category was €5000 worth of tokens from Humaniq, a next-generation bank offering solutions for the unbanked.
The day ended with a Bavarian-style party at the renowned Augustiner Keller in Munich.
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