TechForward NYC hosted “Banking On Blockchain: Exploring Decentralization,” a panel that featured experts from MakerDAO, BlockchainDriven, AirSwap and Ideanomics, last Thursday at General Assembly in Manhattan. The evening was sponsored by Taxmap, NYC BigApps, BlockchainDriven and Fusion.
Decentralized finance is one of the most important frontiers for innovation in the coming decade, and getting to hear from industry leaders about the areas their companies are focusing on and where they see global finance shifting is incredibly valuable. The companies that the four speakers represent are some of the biggest names in decentralized finance and blockchain consulting and implementation.
Some of the important topics discussed by the panelists were relating to accessibility, usability, privacy, security, and regulations. Gal Eldar, Product Manager at AirSwap, spoke about his company’s commitment to making a decentralized exchange that is first and foremost usable and secure. AirSwap is on the forefront of decentralized finance innovation.
BlockchainDriven’s Peter Borovykh and Ideanomics’ Kate Lam had an interesting discussion surrounding regulations and the near-future applications of decentralized finance for developing economies. While they both believe that decentralized finance is a massive asset for emerging economies, they agreed that widespread adoption in these countries would be a bit more of a challenge. Barriers such as regulations and governments incentivized to maintain the status quo must both be overcome, according to Borovykh and Lam.
Facebook’s Libra was one of the main topics of discussion, as an audience member asked the panel’s thoughts on what role it will play upon release. “I think it’s ironic that a company that no one really trusts, picks trustless technology,” said Eldar. There were clear doubts in the panelists minds about how well Libra will work, but they all agreed on its importance of making the public aware of the possibilities of digital currency.
“He’s bringing it into play at the right time. I think it’s actually going to work as a catalyst. Everyone shares this perception around facebook having this negative connotation around data and privacy and that’s starting up all these red flags. But I think it’s great that it’s really starting conversations,” said Ian Harvey of MakerDAO.
Lam presented her thoughts on Libra with skepticism. “Facebook in itself is an economy, it’s an ecosystem.” She goes on to compare Libra to a casino, where its coin is like a casino chip “to use as a currency within the ecosystem itself. But is it good or bad? I don’t know.” This way of thinking about Libra is a healthy one that more people should adopt. Facebook’s intentions with Libra certainly aren’t entirely altruistic. So what is Facebook’s main motivation? Using Lam’s thinking, it becomes clear that Libra is another incentive mechanism created by Facebook to keep people active and engaged with the Facebook platform.
Networking was abound at this event, as well, and I had the pleasure of speaking to dozens and dozens of blockchain professionals that all went out of their way to congregate around this one event. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. There are so few true blockchain experts in the world, and getting more than one of them to engage in a useful dialogue with one another is not a common occurrence. Thank you to TechForward NYC for putting this event on, and a big thank you to the panelists and attendees for a value-packed evening!
Just how quickly decentralized finance will take over the world is yet to be seen, but we are only recently starting to come to terms with its potential impact. What do you think? Where do you see DeFi’s biggest impact coming?
Paul Lennie – Paul is a Scottish finance expert who moved to New York in 2002 to trade on Wall Street, and has been a blockchain and cryptocurrency advocate since 2013. He is a well-respected member of the NYC blockchain community, and has worked with banks and other large corporations on integrating blockchain technology into their businesses.