What to look out for at Blockchain Expo Europe and NA 2022: Mastercard, UNICEF, Walmart and more

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Umar Farooq, CEO of Onyx, JP Morgan’s digital assets business, made an interesting comment at a seminar held recently by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Most of crypto, he argued, was ‘still junk.’ “With the exception of a few dozen tokens, everything else that has been mentioned is either noise or, frankly is just going to go away,” Farooq added.

Put this alongside a recent statistic from S&P Global Market Intelligence that global private equity and venture capital investments in blockchain and cryptocurrency fell 48.1% quarter over quarter, and one could be forgiven for thinking the outlook was bleak.

But for evangelists, these can be seen as good signs. As blockchain technologies mature, and the use cases become more apparent, the chancers and con artists are more likely to disappear – although it’s not a failsafe – and genuine business and consumer problems are solved.

There is also a flip side to every coin. A report from Ripple published in August found that a majority of financial institutions planned to start using crypto within the next three years. Despite the bear market, more than three quarters (76%) said they were interested, assuming regulations allowed for it. Alongside this, asset manager BlackRock launched a spot Bitcoin trust, along with exploring permissioned blockchains, stablecoins, cryptoassets, and tokenisation.

The Blockchain Expo Europe event, held at RAI, Amsterdam on September 20-21, will showcase many brands who are exploring DLTs, digital assets and associated web 3.0 technologies in an innovative manner. Among the key speakers include:

  • Mia Van, EMEA lead, blockchain and digital assets at Mastercard, will discuss the history of NFTs, what can be tokenised, and who benefits
  • David Palmer, blockchain lead at Vodafone Business, will participate in a panel discussion around the metaverse
  • Mariana Gomez de la Villa, program director distributed ledger technology at ING, will talk about enterprise expansion through the lens of blockchain utility
  • Gerben Kijne, product manager blockchain at UNICEF (GIGA) will explore his work on how NFTs can give more children the chance to learn online

For many stakeholders, regulation is the name of the game right now. Farooq mentioned it in passing, suggesting that this was why the financial industry in general was ‘being a little bit slow in catching up.’

Others have different views. Alex Reinhardt, founder of PLC Ultima, and one of the industry’s biggest evangelists, gave advice from the consumer perspective. Reinhardt told The Block: “If you make a mistake today, it isn’t easy to defend your rights because they are yet to be fully regulated. So it would be best if you did not try to make a profit where it can get you into trouble later on.”

PLC Ultima is also participating at Blockchain Expo Europe as the headline partner, with Reinhardt keynoting on day one to discuss the process of blockchain evangelism. So never mind a bear market; there are plenty of green shoots to be found, as Reinhardt explains. “I do not doubt that cryptocurrencies will continue to live on and grow out of spite,” he says. “Nothing can destroy their attractiveness because it is objective.”

The Tokenisation & Digital Assets track features the important issue of regulation heavily. One panel, at 1540 local time, will ask why regulatory bodies are so nervous to approach the crypto world, and explore future potential of a governed space. Representatives from the European Central Bank, European Blockchain Association and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) will share their insight.

From an enterprise blockchain perspective, where advocates are somewhat shielded from the shrapnel of fluctuating crypto markets, there may well be cause for optimism. Senior executives still have time to get things right if, for instance, they want to adopt a blockchain for their global supply chain, but the use cases are developing.

At Blockchain Expo North America, held at Santa Clara on October 5-6, there are various interesting examples of enterprises looking to make the right moves. Chris Johnson, director, head of international data governance at Walmart, will discuss how to give executives what they want and create an ecosystem with system thinking, while Philip Silitschanu, research director for IDC financial insights, will explore the need for enterprise blockchain, bottlenecks for adoption, and predictions for 2023 and beyond.

Several major enterprise software vendors, from IBM, to Oracle, to VMware, will also be participating. Mark Rakhmilevich, senior director blockchain product management at Oracle, will look at the progress being made in the market with regards to partnerships, sponsorships and disputes.  

Blockchain Expo Europe – 20-21 September, RAI Amsterdam. Book your tickets here

Blockchain Expo North America – 5-6 October at Santa Clara Convention Center, California. Book your tickets here

Whether you’re looking at enterprise use cases, or innovative examples of brands utilising digital assets and tokenisation, Blockchain Expo Europe and North America will have interesting and important content for those looking to take the next step. Find out more about the event series here.

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