AIBC Summit America Digital Panel

I was speaking at a panel during the latest AIBC Summit America, which took place on the 24th September 2020. The covered topics were Blockchain Integration, DAO’s & Fintech Processes.

Below you can find the full edited transcript of my answers to the moderator’s questions on the panel.

VOICEOVER: Accelerating growth, Blockchain integration, DAOs and FinTech processes.

JONATHAN: Hello, everyone, welcome to our panel on the AIBC America summit. This panel will be discussing the growth and adoption of Blockchain technology, its integration, and also the progress we’ve seen in relation to DAOS and FinTech in general. I’m joined today by some excellent panelists and I’ll start by introducing myself: I’m Jonathan Galea, I’ll be your moderator for today’s panel, and the CEO of BCA Solutions, which is a regulatory and technical advisory firm with offices in Malta, Liechtenstein and Singapore. Simply put, we offer licensing and regulatory services in those three jurisdictions to exchanges brokers, our service providers, and we also offer regulatory and strategic advice to public authorities and governments. Now I’ll let our panelists introduce themselves and we’ll kick off today’s discussion. David?

DAVID: My name is David Orban, I am the Founder and Managing Partner of Network Society Ventures, part of the Network Society group. We are longtime believers in the power of decentralization that compounded with the exponential technologies that we see around, allows disruptive business models to be experimented with and great investment opportunities as well. We see Blockchain as just one of many industrial sectors going in the same direction through this.

JONATHAN: Fantastic. Thank you, everyone. We’ll be discussing the growth and adoption in terms of Blockchain technology, and its various different facets as well. Speaking of Blockchain technology, as opposed to common thinking, was not born thanks to Bitcoin, but the concept of Blockchain, of course, was before that. I would say that however, Blockchain technology, in its practical sense, has really truly been with us thanks to Bitcoin, which had its genesis block mined in January of 2009. It’s been more than 11 years since we saw the advent of Bitcoin, and I would say that 11 years have passed, but still really and truly we mostly talk about cryptocurrencies when we talk about users of blockchain technology. Are we still in an age where crypto seems to be the main use case of blockchain technology? Or are we seeing some other emerging users which do merit their own attention as well? 

DAVID: We are right to be impatient because there are a lot of challenges in the world that technology needs to address and help us solve them. But imagine that we are in the, maybe, mid  70s, and the four of us, as well as the people listening, are aware that the ARPANET exists, and we are equally impatient because it still hasn’t changed the world. But there will be still another 20 years to go before the successor of the ARPANET, the internet, as we know it today, is just starting to become something that more than the specialists are familiar with. It will be another 20 years after that, when everybody understands that the end of the internet is indeed changing the world. Will it take 50 years before blockchain has changed the world? I hope not, but only if we are persistent and if we keep our eyes on the long term mission, we will be able to deliver on the promise of the original dreams of those who created an architected blockchain, and the intermediate applications are all good and fine. But we have to aim for radical disruption.

JONATHAN: Very valid points. Thanks, David. Various projects like Bitcoin, Ethereum, even some recent DeFi projects, most of them being built on Ethereum, as well. I would say that shows that there’s been a bit of a change in terms of how we see Blockchain network permissions, blockchain networks, whereby we saw Bitcoins main news being that of hosting a currency, which is intended to be used as a means of payment or store of value, depending on your point of view. We’ve seen Ethereum which advocates the use of smart contracts, and then we saw the whole DeFi movement kicking off. But the common point between all these different networks is that they have a tokenized model, which serves as an incentive. Now we started seeing the emergence of Blockchain networks, which do away with this tokenized model, because they don’t need an incentive as they are permission networks. I’m talking about Enterprise Blockchains here, and we’re seeing an interest in these, so-called Enterprise Blockchain Platforms. What’s your take on this? Is it something which you see potential in? Do you think it’s a gimmick? Do you think it is just a passing trend? What’s your take on this?

DAVID: The competitive advantage of corporations derives still a lot from traditional analysis, like Porter’s view of a very linear organization. But today, we have already seen, even without blockchain, that platforms, such as Facebook and Google and others, are able to capture an enormous value in different more network-like systems. As long as a Blockchain based enterprise is able to prove that it is superior, and probably, most importantly, more resilient in the dynamic adjustments that it needs to implement, as its environment evolves, then absolutely, those experiments should be carried out. But it should not be done in order to replicate, you know, more expensive infrastructure, the existing solutions, which were absolutely fine without blockchain too.

JONATHAN: I would say that there have been some implementations making good use of notable permissioned and blocking systems like Hyperledger, whereby the use case itself was not quite strong. In fact, it only leads to certain inefficiencies when compared to other systems, which have been with us for longer and might serve the purpose better. I would say that in terms of analyzing, and considering the use of enterprise blockchains, one should always keep in mind certain common factors, which are applicable across the board, whether it’s the use of permission, or permissionless blockchains, by asking certain questions, like “Are we talking about having a Blockchain based system being implemented in an environment where there is a lack of trust? And if there is this lack of trust, would potentially automated systems be the solution for this as well?” Because ultimately, if you were to use an Enterprise Blockchain solution just for the sake of recording certain data inputs, then maybe the answer is not making use of Blockchain Technology at all, but potentially might be making use of certain legacy systems, which can work better. I don’t know whether I’m sharing your sentiment on this.

Speaking of apprehension on part of the regulators, the Libra project is a project which goes at odds in terms of what we typically expect of cryptocurrencies, and in that it is a centralized project led by one of the largest corporations in the world. However, we have seen the introduction of certain decentralized movements and ideas, one of them being the concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, the DAO. Speaking of the DAO,  we know that the first one to come into existence didn’t have such a happy ending, we know what happened in the DAO incident back in 2015, the so-called DAO incident, which led us to a hard fork in the Ethereum network. Have we seen any change in the way that we perceive DAOs from that year? Do you think there’s any future in DAOs? Can you give us a brief opinion of what you think about the constitution of DAOs in general?

DAVID: You can see the war scar, I invested in the DAO, and I proudly displayed these scars because, as any investor knows, those experiments are essential. We cannot pretend to find scalable solutions unless we make mistakes too. The double entry bookkeeping system was invented 500 years ago, when we needed the pencil and paper in order to balance our books. A new organization is very natural for a new kind of technology, and those that are able to implement governance systems, aided by mathematics, correct balance, the needs of a multitude of stakeholders are going to thrive for the next 500 years, driving possibilities that we can barely glimpse today, whether they are going to be autonomous cars swarms in the form of completely different shapes than we see today in IoT networks, or it is going to be robots extracting precious metals from the asteroid belt. We don’t have to restrict ourselves to existing examples of why a new organization under a new governance system should be extremely advantageous.

JONATHAN: I think we managed to pin down the concept of algorithmic stable coins and pair them with a functioning DAO. I think we’ll actually start seeing something very interesting happening in this space. Dear panelists, it has been a pleasure, hosting and  moderating this panel. Thank you a lot for the insights and I look forward to connecting with you right after the panel. Dear audience, thanks a lot for listening, I hope you found this panel insightful, and we’ll see you with the next panel. Thank you very much. Thank you all. Thank you. Have a good day, guys.