When it comes to conferences, bigger isn't always better. In fact, most of the time bigger isn't better although LendIt is an obvious exception that is both big and awesome. This week, the Atlanta Blockchain Experience took place run by the Cryptolina guys (who have been running conferences since at least 2014). Cryptolina does great work and after their 2015 conference in Charlotte, some blockchain friendly legislation passed in North Carolina, an important banking hub.
The Atlanta Blockchain Experience (ABE) was in my backyard here in Atlanta and it was a small, fun, informative conference. Here are some of the highlights
Increasing Adoption A Central Theme
One of the nice things about the bear market in Bitcoin and crypto-economy is that long time holders and those building businesses with the technology are now the dominant force at conferences instead of speculators and those playing off the hype. ABE was no exception among the 150-ish there with many businesses building looking to make the use of the tech easier for the average person.
Among them, event host Ternio is bringing scaling of blockchain to enterprises. Ternio uses the Lexicon blockchain that they created as a fork off the Hyperledger consortium blockchain. CEO Daniel Gouldman presented on how these enterprise solutions can bring greater corporate adoption of the tech.
Sapient Consulting's Aleksander Zelenovic presented about how one of his clients, the US Federal Government is using blockchain tech in health records. 'The tech is changing business processes', said Zelenovic and ~95% of firms with more than $500 million in Revenue are actively targeting or already investing in blockchain tech. WOW.
Zelenovic further asked what's in the way of greater adoption? He had 3 answers
- Determining where and what is the ROI of its use
- Our own myopia. We often can't see the exponential changes happening as we think most changes are linear. In many areas, especially in tech, this is wrong. There wasn't a good version of the iPod out before Apple made it. Many changes are not linear or the result of continuous improvement. Some, like iPod, are so good they create their own market. Our own limitations of how we can use blockchain are in the way of greater adoption. Thankfully, many sharp and creative minds are working on this issue.
- How do we use blockchain as one part of a larger solution? For instance, does blockchain fit in with other new technologies like AI or machine learning to help business processes make a huge leap forward? Zelenovic says yes it can.
Brandon Elliot, CEO & Founder of Javvy Trading, gave the best analysis from a non-lawyer I've heard so far on Security Tokens v Utility Tokens. Based on his firm's experience as a wallet and multi-currency decentralized exchange issuing an ICO, Elliot went over all the usual suspects for compliant fundraising (including making an ICO compliant) including
- Reg A and Reg A+
- Reg D
- 506 C
- 506 B and
- Reg S
Listening to his talk about going through all these options for Javvy made me feel sorry for him as this is a business trying to stay compliant and having a tough time (and large costs) to figure out how to do it. It's a reminder that the US Government giving us guidance on how to comply with the different interpretations of cryptocurrencies from the SEC, CFTC, Dept of Treasury and IRS is vital to the US staying a hub of blockchain activity.
Tokenizing Assets Grows
One of the recent trends in blockchain is issuing tokens to 'tokenize' other assets. The biggest advantages are access to different investments for investors that previously locked them out like commercial real estate and providing liquidity to typically illiquid assets. Again, real estate is a great example of an asset class that benefits greatly from tokenizing.
Mike Francis, CEO of Distributed Ledger Inc., talked about building blockchain apps including for banking and increasing access to mining power for individuals. Other speakers spoke on topics like how wealth management can work with tokenized assets and custody, important subjects to grow adoption.
Creatives' Use of Blockchain Growing
Speakers from CyberFM, who uses their coin to pay taxes and royalty fees, to other artists and creatives protecting their intellectual property with a timestamp on the blockchain of their creations are a trend worth watching. Whether it's IP or selling your works or licensing them to others, creatives are embracing blockchain in a big way.
Linda Goetze of the Blockchain Chamber of Commerce spoke about opportunity zones. Creatives often work in studio spaces in low income or 'yet to be gentrified' areas in cities. Linda's talk was about using bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to fund investments in city opportunity zones and get tax benefits. Early adopters of Bitcoin who are still profitable can defer or maybe eliminate (Talk to your CPA) capital gains taxes from your crypto investments. It's a really great idea for early adopters that want to do something good while investing their profits and at least delaying the tax impact...
Atlanta has a big tech industry and lots of it is in enterprise with Microsoft, IBM and SAP having huge offices here among others. What I was curious about and happy to see, was lots of startups and young businesses to work with the enterprise, the small business, and the individual. I knew from my previous experience that the Cryptolina guys Rich, Faruk and Eric would put on a great event and they did. One day, great information and networking, and good fun all in Atlanta. I'm looking forward to their next conference. Hope to see you there.