BR Focus on Blockchain conference: Antonio Eram, Netopia: “The world out there is not yet prepared – the average Joe is not even able to use a credit card properly, so you expect them to pay with bitcoin?”

Georgeta Gheorghe 19/07/2018 | 10:33

Reflecting Business Review’s strong focus on technology, the first event dedicated to blockchain, kicks off in Bucharest, at Impact Hub. A meeting platform for developers and investors, it brings together local and international speakers involved in the global blockchain community.

Vidal Chriqui, Co-Founder BTU PROTOCOL | ERC-808 Inventor speech at Focus on Blockchain conference:

Vidal Chiriqui
  • “There’s a revolution on its way – we’re entering a new phase of the internet. So far, the internet was about information. When you are sending a picture, what you actually do is send a copy of that picture. But when it comes to value, to money, I can’t say I am sending a copy of money. That is why, now you have the possibility to upgrade and go from the internet of information to the internet of value.It’s not just about technology. The miner is also doing the incentivisation part, for instance. Blockchain is all bout the economy, sharing the same interests and a new system of governance”.
  • “The philosophy of blockchain is: giving back the pose to the user. It is a new architecture of power. The power does not belong to the bank, now everybody is a bank and has the bank in their back pocket. There are no delays, no third party.”
  • “The market is dominated by Bitcoin and ethereum. We have some early adopters. The daily value is 6 billion dollars. Right now, in the world, 1.5 people don’t exist. Travel agencies in Bolivia, due to volatility, do not accept the local currency but accept the bitcoin. The bitcoin will be able to become the alternative financial system”.

  • “We can bank the unbanked and unbank the banks. We are just at the beginning and an alternative financial system is coming where we will have machine to machine economy”.

Piotr Gryko, R&D software Engineer & Open Source Development speech at Focus on Blockchain conference:

Piotr Gryko
  • “Blockchain is a fantastic experiments at scale. I feel the true value is the consensus systems. Practical systems we use on a day to day basis are deeply flawed. This can be a banking system or governance system. For technology to be used, it does t need to be good, it just needs to be less bad that what’s out there.”
  • “Ideologically, when bitcoin came was a move against state power and centralisation. In order to catch, it has to answer a need. To add something useful. That happens when you compare it to an existing Licence plate lotteries in China which – are predisposed to corruption. Blockchain can be used as an anti corruption transparent method.”
  • One of the reason banks are so slow is that have an open API. Soon some of the With Ripple, organisations don’t trust each other but might trust a third party.”

  • “The modern internet is not decentralised. You’re using Google cloud or Amazon’s services. Soon, you will see decentralised companies that are not locate anywhere. One use connected to blockchain that must be acknowledged is that of enabling corruption. One of the things crypto currencies do is enable corruption, so this will increase the amount of corruption. New uses can be expected in the area of enterprise architecture. When you re deploying systems, all machines trust eachotehr. You must orchestrate the system in such a way that they’re all trustful. I believe there’s an use case to use blockchain to make sure that does not happen.”

Czegledi Tamas, Co-Founder | Blockchaineum Group, speech at Focus on Blockchain conference

Czegledi Tamas
  • “What was the problem when bitcin was born? The banking system is complicated, and bitcoin is even more complicated. This is the problem right now. But what is the solution? First of all, is education. We are already teaching in universities and have created the approach of blockchain business analyst to help people understand what blockchain is. If we create our own project. If making money means selling tokens to each other by people in jeans and t-shirts we will not go far. There needs to be a real business case that must be explained”.
  •  “We have cooperations with universities and hold lectures and have been invited to make the curriculums for universities. We are also invited to advise on legislation by public actors. I hosted a bitcoin and crypto news at a radio station in Hungary recently.”
  • “Blockchain has to face reality to offer profitable way and a digestible manner to solve existing problems. It has to solve real life problems. Lunching another wallet – we are not interested in. We agree blockchain is focusing on the financial part of the financial industry but we have to deal with this and find more uses.”

  • “What is blockchain? From a strategy point of view it is smart contracts. Such a contract is identical with the legal contract but if I want to oversimplify, it brings us the opportunity to leave out the middleman.If you focus on another aspect blockchain offers a democratic way for investment. Risk is involved but if you can give the opportunity to average people to invest in this, this is something new. You are disrupting the industry.”
  • “Blockchain can be a fundraising solution. If you are an entrepreneur, you can gather money. When even banks are suffering from a lack of capital, we are in trouble. ICOs give a cheap and fast fundraising opportunity. We are crying for innovation. The EU has policies to bring innovation to Europe but they don’t work. This is an opportunity to do this. And there’s proof that a lot of money si coming towards Eastern Europe, Poland, Russia an Bulgaria.”

Gyorgy Balazsi – Head of Product | Blockchain Competence Center, speech at Focus on Blockchain conference:

Gyorgy Balazsi

How to sell the blockchain story to non-technical people within companies (big and small) and government?

 

  • “Find definite optimist partners who believe there’s a bright future ahead and that we can influence it. We have every reason to believe blockchain will transform many industries and sectors”
  • Avoid the flirting trap – there are companies who are interested in blockchain, but they are actually in serious commitment with their current technologies – it’s a trap, you should avoid it and there are already ways to see the early signs of this kind of false interest”

  • “Distinguish between revolution and evolution – it’s very convenient to speak about the blockchain as if it were a homogenous field, but it isn’t – there are several parts to it – some bring really big, radical improvements while some are not so radical but they bring substantial improvement in an evolutionary way”
  • “First revolutionary thing I can think of are cryptocurrency, and the second equally radical change are smart legal contracts, with real legal value and can be linked to Ethereum smart contracts and they combine the legal value of contracts and the new functionality of smart contracts.”
  • “Blockchain transaction logic – not revolutionary – in certain situation a great improvement can be achieved, e.g. in trade finance transactions you can reduce lag time from weeks to hours, but it’s not a radical idea that brings something new that didn’t exist before. Crypto assets – another evolutionary, not revolutionary concept – the digitalization of existing assets. Harsh reality: when you try to sell the blockchain idea there are good reasons to say yes and good reasons to say no. No, because: it’s too radical; we’re not there yet OR it’s not radical enough, we have a good enough solution already. YES, because: early bird gets the worm; perfect fit with strategy; external/internal UX; business vs. techbridge; patchwork of legacy systems; competition might be ahead. The path to YES is co-creation – we have good experience with this, we’ve worked a lot with non-technical people, they require a different approach”
  • “Technical people like to play with new technologies, but business people tend to be more conservative but there are still ways to engage them – for instance, we created a game where we sat different people down at a table and we went through scenarios of business transactions that can benefit from tokenized business models, and used poker chips for hands-on workshop with demos. Together they found similarities between their problems and existing solutions.”

 

Cosmina Simion – Partner | NNDKP, speech at Focus on Blockchain conference:

Cosmina Simion

Applications of AI in the legal industry and legal use for blockchain technologies

 

  • “Lawyers are rather reluctant to adopt and adapt to new technologyTechnology always needs to fit the legal framework”
  • How lawyers are using AI:
    • “Some of the software and applications we’re using even in Romania we have been using for years and we continuously adapt them and we do work with our software providers for constant improvement”
    • “What we do today is something that was not possible when I started out. In due diligence, when a large corporation needs to be reviewed, a large law firm with many resources would be required to do it in a limited time period – this is prone to flaw”
    • “Document review – setting search parameters for document review doesn’t require AI, but AI improves speed, accuracy, efficiency of document analysus (e.g. predictive coding)”
    • “Analysing contracts – some AI platforms allow lawyaers to identify, extract and analyse business info contained in large volumes of contract data”
    • “Legal research – development of legal research tools that will enable law firms to reduce the ftime spent on research, while improving results”
    • “Predicting results”
  • “An example of a robot lawyer that is quite successful is DoNotPay – used largely in UK and US to challenge parking tickets”

  • “Blockchain technologies – from a legal perspective, I would talk more about smart contracts. Many people are focused on cryptocurrencies but today blockchain can be used in much more areas and bring safety, speed, accuracy. Smart contracts: supply chains, voting systems, autonomous vehicles, real estate contracts, healthcare”
  • “No matter how revolutionary a technology is, if it’s not put to good use it’s not revolutionary at all. We still need to do something more about this tech, make it more attractive – how can we do that? In my opinion, what you’re missing is trust – I believe you need this tech to be assumed, acknowledged, people need education about it. Such things can only be done with the help of state authorities. Steps have been taken in that regard, there is a blockchain partnership which was signed in April by 23 European states and others have joined, Romania included – they have committed to invest in this technology in the near future.”
  • “Some countries are using blockchain already – Sweden, Estonia, Belarus. There are other states that have taken this one step forward – we are in a grey area, which is sometimes a good thing, but it’s better to be regulated so that you know the rules of the game and you gain trust. Malta and Gibraltar are known for saying that their licences are valid throughout the EU, which is not true – so be careful.”
  • “Blockchain still has to overcome data processing activities – now we have even stricter regulation in the EU and currently doesn’t allow the anonymisation of data”

  • “Once you’re in the blockchain you can’t amend anything”
  • “Litigation and dispute resolution is something that blockchain cannot solve yet.Businesses will need to carefully consider whether blockchain will add sufficient value in any given area to outweigh costs, time required to operate in the blockhain, etc.”
  • “A blockchain is only as good as the data it contains.”

Panel talk on Focus on Blockchain conference:

Panel discussion

Blockchain Startups, and ICOs: What You Need to Know

  • Challenges and opportunities when building a blockchain startup
    •Legal and regulatory overview
    •ICO Marketing & PR
    •ICO versus Crowdfunding
    •How do you go to market and scale?
Florin Otto

Moderator: Florin Otto, VP of Product | Modex Tech

  • First topic: What’s the difference b/w a blockhain startup and an ICO because they’re not the same?
Ioan Iacob

Ioan Iacob, Founder and CEO | QUALITANCE

  • “You’ve got ICOs, crypto and blockchain. I’m a huge fan of blockchain because it represents something fundamental – it’s about decentralized freedom and trust. I think blockchain can truly disrupt the banking, financial systems”
  • “There was literally no way of doing that in a completely decentralized and safe way before blockchain. Businesses are about trust – people do business with Qualitance because they trust it’s one of the best companies in the world in its field, and that’s what blockchain is going to do, it’s going to disrupt trust”
  • “Cryptocurrencies are just one way of using the blockchain, I can see the whole world running on crypto in 10-20 years. Most ICOs are started to be scams on purpose, but there’s a huge appetite for them. The bad news is that 95 percent of new innovation projects in the world are failures – true for startups and for enterprises”

  • “You can say that when you’re buying crypto you’re not really buying anything, but you can say the same thing about money – it’s just a way to store value. If the majority of us will agree that a cryptocurrency stores value, it will – and that’s what we need to think about”
  • If the majority of us will agree that a cryptocurrency stores value, it will – and that’s what we need to think about

 

Antonio Eram

Antonio Eram, CEO | NETOPIA mobilPay

  • “We are at the intersection between old school and new school. Most ICOs are building a product just for the sake of the ICO, which is not a good idea. 99 percent of the companies I’ve met that want to do an ICO think they’re going to disrupt everything and in fact they don’t even have a business model, a legal approach – this is the wrong way of doing it”
  • “ICOs are just a way of exchanging value that is not there, sorry to say that but it’s the truth. We’re playing with something that’s only making some banks and lawyers very rich”
  • Nobody doing an ICO is going to say ‘I’m going to raise 10,000 ethereum or anything like that’ – they say they’re going to raise 10 million euros – it’s like using monopoly money – you need fiat (regular currency), not anything else”

  • “The world out there is not yet prepared – the average Joe is not even able to use a credit card properly, so you expect them to pay with bitcoin? I’m a huge fan of cryptocurrency, but I’m not a fan of ICOs. All these ICOs are doing a huge disservice to business – this is not the way to go”
  • We offer bitcoin payments to 6,000 merchants in Romania – but only about 50 of them actually signed up for it – because people need money now
  • Going back to ICOs – they are a bunch of kids who are very technical and have no understanding of business, convincing other technical guys who think they have money because they own cryptocurrency to invest in something
  • Difference between ICO and IPO is that in an IPO you get stock in the company – you participate in the meetings, you get dividends. In an ICO, you get tokens with the promise that these tokens will be worth something if they’re ever accepted as payment anywhere
  • We are trying to change the world with something the world doesn’t know exists and doesn’t understand
  • We’re trying to change the world with something mathematical, cold, which has no touch
  • We are wrongly interpreting ICOs as being equal to IPOs
  • IPOs is a company that already exists, has a track record, etc. – an ICO is just a white paper and a promise
  • 90 percent of the ICOs fail, and half of the remaining 10 percent fail in another 4 months
Andra Georgescu

Andra Georgescu, Co-Founder & COO | Hey, Be Well!

  • You can create a product that incorporates blockchain tech without doing an ICO. But ICOs are a good way to finance your startup, moving away from VCC
  • Right now, we’re not spoiled for choice – if we want to buy things in Romania, we need to use either RON or EUR – our choices are dictated by a central entity
  • There are entry barriers to IPOs, not to ICOs – you need to be accredited to buy stock in a company
  • When we talk about opportunities and challenges, we talk about the opportunity of raising money and about the numerous challenges related
  • There is such a big problem in this space with scams but people are not taking on the responsibility of doing research and finding out whether they are investing in real companies and products – take two hours, read the white paper and find out whether that entity exists and that will save you a lot of trouble
  • Another problem with ICOs is finding the right jurisdictions – Switzerland was the only country we found that classified tokens in 3 main categories – payment, security and utility tokens – every ICO wants to have a utility token because it’s the safest way to avoid legal issues and misinterpretations
  • Another challenge would be the barrier to entry – everyone here has more technical know-how than 99 percent of the population – most people don’t know what these things mean
  • We need to do education and explain this technology to people and make it more user-friendly, so you don’t need a computer science degree to do a simple transaction
  • Another barrier is the lack of trust and the lack of marketing and good communications skills
  • Most teams are really smart tech guys who work hard but they lack communication skills to bring their products to the masses
  • We’re faced with the challenge of talking about a product that should have mass adoption in a way that can’t make anyone listen to you – listening to these discussions is a chore and it shouldn’t be
  • You also need good advisors – all the help you can get
  • Meet your deadlines –another challenge – most developers know it’s particularly hard to do that in blockchain
  • Everyone thinks it’s easy and cheap to go into an ICO, but that’s not true, so that’s why I advise everyone do to their research
  • It’s 2018, you can no longer do an ICO with just a white paper, you need a product. If your product is not ready, you delay your ICO.

 

 

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