Yesterday was the conference on Blockchain in Finance in Dublin. Anyone who attended the conference was certain to have felt the great deal of enthusiasm all round. For example, Barclay’s vice chairman compared the Blockchain to a new operating system for the planet.
This opening statement conclusively set the tone for the conference which was attended by a panel of banking executives. They all gathered to share their view on how Blockchain is likely to shape financial services for the foreseeable future.
Although the tone of the event was largely that of optimism, it was no doubt a cautious optimism. There were a number of participants who also had their concerns about the technology.
For example, the director of blockchain technology at Credit Suisse, Emmanuel Aidoo stated that the blockchain was still fragile. He compared the current state of the blockchain to a game of Jenga that required movement of the lower blocks.
Although there were no indications of live implementations at this stage, all of the participants outlined particular projects that they were involved with at their respective banks. However, there was an overall consensus that implementation was only a matter of time. The senior VP for Fidelity labs stated that:
Asking us that is as if Tim Berners-Lee had just developed HTTP and you’re asking us if the internet will change the world.
The Role of Regulators
The panels kept on discussing the potential and risks associated with Blockchain with many taking the view that completely digitizing a process at the moment was not realistic. However they all agreed that regulation played an important role.
Jean Devambez of BNP Paribus pointed out the uncertainty of how legal frameworks could adapt to be able to handle the blockchain technology. Similarly, Anne-Marie Bohan from the law firm Matheson claimed that this framework instead of the technology is likely to be the reason that the implementation is slow in the short term.
The CEO of Blockchain Helix stated that regulators are only interested in the protections and processes for the participants and are not involved with the technical decisions.
There were also representatives from regulatory agencies present that gave their views on the shape of blockchain regulation, if any. Peteris Zilgalvis, who was there on behalf of the European Commission explained how the supra national agency could go about regulation of the technology. He acknowledged the potential but argued for a cautious approach.
Zilgalvis talked about the need to enhance supervisory convergence as well as broadening supervision. Yet he did also mention how this discussion could also play into the current views on regulations of smart contracts.
Smart contracts might need regulation if we want to make them legally binding.
Smart contracts are self-executing code that exist and run on the blockchain. They are the fundamental basis of the Ethereum protocol.
A Bright Future for Blockchain FinTech
Despite the legal challenges that may indeed be present currently, the overwhelming consensus from the conference is that blockchain is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is in stark contrast to previous conferences when blockchain featured much less prominently.
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