On July 26th, over 2,000 attendees participated in The Blockchain Event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where industry heavyweights weighed in on the future of The Blockchain. This week-long forum, sponsored by TMC Events and Gulf Pearl Ltd., attracted prominent entrepreneurs, executives, and developers from FinTech enterprises and emerging startups across the world.

The comprehensive conference program featured three tracks: All About Blockchains, Web 3.0, and Blockchain Developers, with a number of keynotes and panel discussions with leading experts and thought leaders. Attendees also took part in a number of networking opportunities which fostered robust dialogue and idea sharing.

Event organizer Shidan Gouran, CEO of the technology consulting firm Gulf Pearl, has been following financial cryptography since the mid 90’s. In 2009 he was introduced to Bitcoin through a P2P Foundation forum and despite reading a related  whitepaper, paid little attention to it. Then around mid-2010, he was given some bitcoins by one of his colleagues who was a very early adopter. “When the financial value increased, my interest and excitement in this space expanded greatly. Since then I’ve been very actively trading in digital assets, studying related technologies, and angel investing in related startups.”

Conference Highlights

Gouran says that The Blockchain Event was sparked by the need to address two emerging issues. First, concerns that significant amounts of development effort were being spent on blockchain solutions, often without a clear understanding of the problem. Second, the proliferation of a lot of science fiction around proposed solutions as opposed to real products and services. Gouran, in fact, believes that the financial industry in general views Blockchain as either a panacea for every problem within their industry or as simply a tool for mitigating their fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the future.

The Blockchain Event was therefore created to explore innovative solutions to real problems with insights from key thought leaders and startups working on these issues.  Investor extraordinaire Andrew “Flip” Filipowski opened the conference with a keynote examining the future impact of blockchains.

Identity management was another major theme touched on at the event.

According to Gouran two speakers Netki CEO, Dawn Newton and Airbitz CEO, Paul Puey articulated a compelling vision for making identity management easy and appealing to the masses. Netki is developing protocols for human readable Blockchain addresses using digital certificates. While building a scalable identity solution based on this technology is a very difficult problem to tackle, it will be a major game-changer if they succeed.

AirBitz, on the other hand, is building a solution for the management and creation of accounts based on cryptographic keys, which is how Dapps handle authorization and identity. They advocate the view that keys are cumbersome to generate and if one loses their key, an account will be gone forever –  something that’s not resonating well with the mass market. AirBitz is on course to offer a solution for making account creation and identity as simple as traditional web applications while mitigating the complexities of key management and storage for end users.

The event also featured a spirited debate among a group of lawyers regarding how global Blockchains create very difficult interpretations in security law. Here attendees were able to speak with some of the brightest minds in the legal space, including Pamela Morgan, Carla Reyes, Amber Scott, Jason Seibert and Steven Nerayoff.

Another attorney Paul Horbal from the law firm, Bereskin Parr gave a talk on the state of patents in the Blockchain space. Gouran noted that Parr offered a great tutorial on the patent process as well as the types of innovations that are patentable.

Tiana Laurence’s presentation on Factom resonated strongly with attendees, said Gouran.  She spoke on Factom’s attempt to address  universal scalability and secure records management for complex organizations like governments and how all of this will be a pillar for everything driven by data, including IoT and enterprise business process applications.   

The event also highlighted a number of startups that are building consumer services utilizing public Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies. Among these ventures were iPayYou, Bridge 21 and Vaultoro.  

From an investor’s point-of-view a number of venture capitalists shared their perspectives including Alyse Killeen, Steven Nerayoff and Michael Terpin in addition to Flip Filipowski. “The take-away was that infrastructure and applications are both important investment opportunities and that emerging markets are a critical area for investment in the Blockchain space,” says Gouran.

Finally, there was a panel discussion on “Applications to the Entertainment & Media Industry” featuring PopChest CEO Valerian Bennett, SonicCoin’s Steve Dryal, entertainment lawyer Lance Koonce and video producer Laura Gonzales. Gouran says he walked away from that exchange more convinced than ever that Blockchain technologies can play a huge role in reducing the need for middlemen in this industry

Next up for Gouran is The Blockchain Event that’s been slotted for Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2017.  This forum will explore crowdfunding, P2P, analytics, and other areas of financial technology. Further details will be unveiled in Autumn 2016.
Concludes Gouran: “We’ll explore the idea that through the continuing evolution of the Internet and eCommerce, including Blockchain technologies, it’s reasonable to say that technology is moving in a direction that will enable commerce in some new and interesting ways.”