The following is a post by Smile-Expo’s Marina Kryzhevska, one of the organizers of the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference series. Ms. Kryzhevska provides a summary of their latest event held on June 22 in St. Petersburg.
On Thursday, June 22, St. Petersburg hosted a large conference dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrencies – Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference St. Petersburg. The event, to which tickets were sold out one week prior to the end of registration, featured 18 speakers from Russia and other countries. They focused on blockchain development in banking, regulation issues, and a popular topic – ICO realization by blockchain startups.
More than 500 people took part in a conference and demo zone.
What were speakers talking about?
Artem Tolkachev, the director at Deloitte CIS, dedicated his presentation to the world practice of technology regulations related to blockchain. He believes the ICO’s popularity will disappear maximum in a year because laws don’t protect investors and startups raising money have no obligations. Investors need protection from the “sheer lunacy” of the ICO, he claimed.
Dmitry Ermolaev, the project developer at Erachain, talked about difficulties connected to blockchain legalization in Russia. He said blockchain startups getting millions in investments in a couple of minutes have troubles collaborating with traditional business due to their anonymity. Dmitry is confident that a smart contract cannot be signed without identification. That’s why Erachain has developed a special personal authorization with personal data included in blockchain and bound to keys.
The ICO was also criticized by Waves creator Alexander Ivanov. In his opinion, the community has to prevent “a too painful bubble collapse” which can lead to critical consequences for the cryptocurrency industry. He said he worked with ICOs long before they became mainstream, “when the majority didn’t know such a word”.
“The current situation surprises me – people are raising crazy amounts of money,” Mr. Ivanov said. “But they need to understand that if nothing changes, the bubble will deflate.”
In his judgement, the community needs to create a legal mechanism for ICO development and opportunities to protect investors in court.
The head of the department of innovative activity at NRU HSE and an active participant of sector conferences Marina Guryeva presented an update on trends and forecasts within the blockchain economy. She discussed the collaboration of blockchain solutions and artificial intelligence. According to Ms. Guryeva, robots are becoming subjects of the economy, establishing a goods/money relationship without a human factor.
“It’s cool when a fridge can order and pay for pizza delivery,” she said. “Blockchain will have the bright future. Talking about long-term prospects, it refers to artificial intelligence and relationship between robots. We are moving into the world where robots will represent subjects of economy able to buy or sell something to each other within one system.”
Successful cryptocurrency regulation was covered by Wirex vice president Alena Korotaeva. She compared approaches to regulation and investments in Russian and Japan, the country where bitcoin is legal.
Ms. Korotaeva provided statistics showing the average age of a Russian bitcoin investor is under 30 while in Japan cryptocurrencies attract people 10 years older who have considerable assets. For example, a Russian businessman often invests in the cryptocurrency sphere without reliable money reserves because he/she hopes to have profit from volatility. A Japanese entrepreneur invests only a part of his/her assets and relies on the practical use of bitcoin.
Slovenia Company’s Lev Leiman gave practical advice to beginners. In his opinion, Bitcoin’s price can grow by 1,000 per cent and, besides, new digital currencies appear on the market all the time. He recommended Twitter as a source of information about relevant events in the sphere.
In three years, business has started to understand blockchain much better, Sberbank Technologies director Danil Kabanov said. The reason is efficiency of blockchain in the process of communications and elimination of the loyalty problem.
“Business signs agreements in the world where there is no trust,” Mr. Kabanov said, while predicting a massive transition of business to blockchain will happen by 2020 thanks to the development of consortiums like HyperLedger.
Maxim Azrilian, the chief technical architect at Alfa-Bank, told listeners about a joint case study of the bank and S7. They wanted to understand how blockchain is used in issuing of letters of credit. As a result, developers understood that time of signing the agreement decreased from 10 days to four hours.
Mr. Azrilan added companies are involved in creating a platform for using blockchain in trade financing, factoring and letters of credit.
Nevertheless, companies need to specify the use of blockchain, believes the technical evangelist at Microsoft, Konstantin Goldstein.
“Ninety per cent of ICOs are bullshit,” Mr. Goldstein said.
As announced by the organizer of the conference – Smile-Expo Company – the issue of blockchain is entering the phase of popularity and is discussed even on federal TV channels.
Apart from working on traditional platforms (in Russia, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Ukraine), Smile-Expo is planning to organize similar blockchain conferences in Sweden and other countries.