BY Risen Jayaseelan - September 24, 2018
Consensus Singapore raises the bar
Consensus Singapore that took place at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore last week has raised the bar for conferences in this part of the world.
For starters, the event was presented largely by the key staff of New York-based CoinDesk, a leading publication for digital currencies that has been covering the growth of the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since 2013.
Naturally, the selection of speakers and topics were deep and thought provoking.
Notably, there was a stark absence of speakers blatantly promoting their projects on stage, which is often the case in the hundreds of conferences taking place these days.
With one big exception though.
And that would be David Chaum who was allowed to speak on his new payments and messaging project, Elixxir. But Chaum is one of the biggest names in the blockchain space, and at one time was also thought to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
Chaum is said to be a pioneer in the digital money space and says he’s now using part of the cryptographic technology he had invented in the past to address key issues of speed, scalability and privacy.
Chaum reckons his new cryptocurrency will revolutionise the industry.
But it was Binance’s founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng, better know as CZ, who stole the show with his appearance.
CoinDesk’s editor-in-chief, Pete Rizzo, conducted an incisive interview with CZ on stage, that saw the hall packed.
The result: the audience were treated to a story about CZ’s background and entry into the blockchain space, his views on industry players, and received a clear picture of the operations of the world’s largest crypto exchange.
Among other things, the interview revealed this:
- By this time next year, Binance hopes to have between 5 to 10 fiat exchanges across the globe, with 2 per continent but will avoid North America
- CZ foresees there will be thousands of blockchains and millions of coins in the future
- CZ advises entrepreneurs to only start on blockchain projects after clocking in at least 10,000 hours of work in the tech space
Another key speaker at the event was Damien Pang, head of technology infrastructure at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
He noted a growing interest by parties intending to issue security tokens, and that MAS takes the view that tokens fall into one of three categories, namely utility, payments and securities.
He added that MAS does not regulate utility tokens but for payments, a new bill is being passed; while for security tokens, existing securities laws are in place.
Pang also touched on the fact that cybersecurity threats are a big issue in the crypto world and feels that the industry needs to have more conversations around it.
Consensus Singapore also brought together representatives from two competing projects on stage, namely Ethereum and Neo.
The debate was a healthy one which saw Virgil Griffith, special projects lead at Ethereum Foundation and Da Hongfei, the founder at NEO, take on questions posed by CoinDesk’s Director of Research, Nolan Bauerle.
The issues of decentralisation, scalability and the type of Dapps being built on those protocols were extensively discussed.
Griffith pointed out that Ethereum’s philosophy has always been inspired by the Internet, where things are intentionally kept simple, open and somewhat anarchistic.
“I think at Ethereum, we’re a little bit more technology-driven rather than business-driven,” Griffith said, when asked to comment about issues of scalability.
Both leaders agreed to work together on issues and explore joint funding for research that would benefit the industry. Neo also suggested helping Ethereum gain access into the China market was explored.
There were other insightful panels discussing topics such as what do VCs do in the current market, how to spot scams and Southeast Asia’s exchange landscape.
The turnout for the event was impressive.
CoinDesk estimates the total turnout at around 3,000 people although only around 800 of those had tickets to enter the conference hall. Other participants may have been those with free tickets enabling them to visit the booths in the exhibition hall.
CoinDesk’s Joon Ian Wong, who is the media house’s managing director for Europe and Asia and the key person behind the Consensus events, was impressed by the turnout.
He told CryptoNewsAsia: “We were impressed and a little surprised by the massive turnout given market conditions. It shows that there’s huge energy and dynamism in the crypto and blockchain space in Asia.”
Adds Dominik Weil, the co founder and COO of BitcoinVN, the first crypto exchange in Vietnam, said “Consensus Singapore was definitely one of the higher quality conferences in Asia this year. I got to catch up with a lot of pioneers from the early days. While the general depression of the crypto markets was also visible at the conference – I think this actually helped guarantee the higher quality that was evident at the conference. The market has been filtering out a lot of bad projects and people over the last few months. “