Convergence 2019: why more dialogue is essential for the future of blockchain

We know that Blockchain has the power to transform and deliver meaningful change to people’s lives in so many ways. From improving financial services to impact on social issues, privacy and healthcare, blockchain is, like a coiled spring waiting to take off. INATBA’s role in this has been to help ensure that the direction of travel is both correct and is guided by the entire blockchain community from developers, users, policymakers and regulators. That is the reason why we are so keen to increase dialogue within the blockchain community, and why over three glorious days this November in Malaga, we were busy helping organise Convergence

With over 1400 attendees from over 50 different countries, Convergence was a truly global event. However, aside from the 80 fascinating keynotes, panel sessions, fireside chats, Convergence also presented a great opportunity for many of our working groups to meet in person for the first time. Over the next few months, we look forward to sharing further updates showing how the groups are helping increase dialogue and drive greater collaboration within blockchain. In the meantime, we are pleased to share with you some initial updates, from some of the working groups that met at Convergence:

 

Let’s talk about privacy

Over the course of Convergence, it was clear that privacy was a core theme given its huge impact on our lives. This was particularly highlighted during the Privacy Working Group session. During the session, GDPR naturally played a big part in the conversation, with attendees discussing how different parts of the regulation can help bring blockchain and DLT industries forward. One immediate action from the session was the realisation of a need for a GDPR Code of Conduct for blockchain. Consequently, the Privacy Working Group will now be working towards creating this. We are already looking forward to being able to share more details on it soon. 

Away from the working group session, the presence of representatives from the European Data Protection Board and the Spanish Data Protection Agency during Convergence was seen as an important step as it underlined how key a topic blockchain and DLT are to regulators. With an eye on 2020, the presence of these influential regulatory bodies only underscores the importance of Convergence and the Privacy Working Group’s activities.  

Exploring the social impact of blockchain 

The Privacy Working Group was not the only one focused on socio-economic issues however. The Social Impact Working Group also focused on issues and ways that blockchain can help deliver meaningful change. Taking the opportunity that Convergence presented, the working group held discussions around a variety of use cases that blockchain is already helping deliver in. From financial inclusion to food traceability, the group covered a number of ways that blockchain could help in the future. Looking ahead to 2020, the social impact group defined its next three phases which include mapping ecosystems, frameworks and recommendations and blockchain for good ecosystem. 

In addition, the Social Impact and Energy Working Groups decided to join forces with the Climate Chain Coalition on the topic of climate action, and initiated a Climate Action Working Group. The new group will focus on the specific ways blockchain can impact the environment. We are already looking forward to sharing more news on their work after the first Energy and Climate Action Roundtables which are being hosted by the German Foreign Office in Berlin on the 26th March 2020. As preparation for the Roundtables the Energy Working Group is currently drafting its first Energy Convergence Paper, to summarize the findings from Málaga and prepare objectives for the March Meetings. 

Investing in blockchain for the financial services

While blockchains use in the social impact sector may be in its early stages, for the financial services it has become quite advanced. Consequently, the Financial Services Working Group decided to create three subgroups. Each subgroup will be focusing on a very specific issue such as token regulation, anti-money laundering (AML) and decentralised finance. In fact, one of the exciting updates is the news that the AML subgroup is working on a paper to address issues relating to the latest directives and blockchain technology. While we look forward to reading and sharing the final paper, the work that the Financial Services Working Group is doing really underlines the size and scale of the impact that blockchain and DLT are set to have.               

Looking ahead

In the coming months we will be sharing further updates from our working groups, highlighting the specific areas each one is tackling. However, the size of the opportunity ahead of us was underlined perfectly during the final speaker session of the event. During the session, His Excellency Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia, reminded everyone that technological innovation inevitably creates legal challenges, and exchanging experiences and ideas is the only way they will be solved. With his wise words still ringing in our ears, we are already excited to see how these exchanges will have evolved at Convergence 2020. 

However, if you can’t wait that long and are keen to learn more about the discussions from this year’s event, you can watch videos from a selection of the sessions here.

About INATBA

INATBA, the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications, offers developers and users of DLT a global forum to interact with regulators and policy makers and bring blockchain technology to the next stage. Initiated by the European Commission and launched in April 2019, the association already has a membership base of more than 150 organizations, from start-ups to key industry players of various sectors. The association is additionally supported by an Advisory Board including organizations like the OECD, World Food Program, the World Bank, and the United Nations.

  • The core objectives of the association are to:
  • Establish a permanent dialogue with public authorities and regulators.
  • Promote open, transparent and inclusive global governance models for blockchain and DLT.
  • Support the development and adoption of interoperability guidelines and global standards.
  • Develop sector-specific guidelines and specifications.

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