Convergence Blockchain Congress took place on 11th-13th of November in Malaga, and was the first event organized by INATBA – the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications- in collaboration with Alastria, the European Commission and the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum.
As a founding member of INATBA, with Maike as a Member of the Board of Directors and Khalid as a Co-Chair of the Social Impact Working Group, the Scrypt team was happy and honoured to participate and also be part of the organizing team that made this event a success. Besides taking part in the overall organization and the communication and planning effort, we organized the following sessions:
Maike organized and moderated the panel “The Future of Sustainability: Techniques for Measuring Social Impact”: DLT and blockchain technology has cultivated new means through which measures of social impact and environmental practices can be improved, offering new opportunities for understanding where, how, and in what way we can tackle emerging issues. Maike invited Caroline Dama from Grassroots Economics, Vanessa Grellet from Consensys, Iulian Circo from Proof of Impact and Joerg Walden from iPoint to answer the following questions: What best practices exist? What projects and organisations are leading the way in this field? How can such measures be improved to have a more tangible effect within the real-world?
Khalid organized and moderated the panel “Leave no one behind: How can Blockchain increase positive social and environmental impact?”: Areti Kampyli from Alice.si, Benjamin Clair from BetterChain, Caroline Dama from Grassroots Economics and Chris Bayer, PhD from Development International presented their work and explained how can Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies contribute to fighting inequality? The panel explored use cases around financial inclusion, homelessness, child labor, and corruption. They discussed the challenges and how regulation, investors and governments should work together to overtake them.
Khalid organized the Roundtable “Aligning SDGs + Social Impact goals with blockchain technology” with his fellow co-chair of the social impact & sustainability working group, Joerg Walden from i-Point. Representatives of startups, SME, Large companies, governments and academics attended the roundtable session. They explored how blockchain & DLT are being used to solve real-world problems to enable greater social and environmental impact, and how we can align these efforts with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The discussion explored real use cases that are already enabling positive social and environmental impact and focused on the actual challenges faced by companies when using Blockchain for social and environmental impact. This discussion allowed us to identify the priorities and the next steps of collaboration, and we are looking very much forward to continuing the dialogue and getting to work on actionable next steps within INATBA’s Social Impact Working Group.
The first edition of the ‘Convergence’ congress brought together the worldwide community of start-ups, corporations, regulators and policy makers, researchers and venture capital firms for a three-day event in Malaga, Spain. The congress gave attendees a chance to develop new networks and hear from experts on topics around:
Social Impact and sustainability
Digital Identity and Privacy
Will stable coins rule?
With the announcement of Libra, stable coins started to take over the Blockchain news. How to regulate them? Will central bank issue their own? Will government accept Libra to be used in their country?…
While we didn’t get the answer to all those questions during Convergence, the conference allowed to have some very productive and interesting discussion around stable coins regulation. The INATBA Finance working group will keep taking part in the dialogue with regulators and solution providers to ensure all the perspectives are taken into account.
What about funding?
The European commission, as one of the co-organizers of the event, announced their plans to invest more than 9B € this year in the Digital Single Market program. Most of the grants will be directed to Startups and R&D centers to help develop new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain and stimulate innovation in Europe.
The topic of funding was also widely discussed during the conference. Especially questions around “how can we add impact parameters when making investment decisions?”. To answer this question, many participants agreed that all stakeholders need to work on improving the:
Impact measurement frameworks: To help the decision-making process, investors will need to see clear and transparent impact measurement.
The global ecosystem: building bridges between social innovators, technologists and investors.
Are we still hyping?
The answer is probably: Yes, No, it depends…
As in most Blockchain conferences, some panels and keynotes were in the exaggeration and were still presenting Blockchain as the technology that will save the world. We can’t blame them for these statements as we also see the potential of such technologies. However, many participants from startups, large companies and NGOs presented real use cases that are already being used locally and are just waiting for a chance to scale.
Projects like Grassroots Economics are already providing community currencies to several communities in Africa.
Alice.si is already helping several people in the UK to fight homelessness thanks to their funding platform. They use Blockchain to trace the funds and ensure they are used correctly.
Big corporates are showing more and more interest in using Blockchain to either improve their processes or explore new business cases and models.
However, in the different discussions, one conclusion seems to surface often: Blockchain can have a great impact on improving or changing businesses and lives. But at the end of the day, Blockchain is just a technology and a tool. The biggest challenges that project owners face are not technical, but mainly organizational, user-centric and regulatory.
It’s a wrap!
Despite the short organization time, most of the attendees agreed that Convergence was a big success. The quality and the diversity of speakers and attendees opened considerable opportunities for dialogue and open exchange.
We are very much looking forward to continue the discussion with all stakeholders and to join forces in shaping the future of Blockchain technology to build a more sustainable world!
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