Blockchains + Digital Currencies Review

by on Aug 04, 2016

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On July 28, 2016, Corporate Insight attended the third annual Blockchains + Digital Currencies conference in New York City. This one-day gathering of industry executives, regulators and providers offered the chance to gather and exchange information on trends in the blockchain and digital currency space, while showcasing the vast potential of the industry and problems that may arise as advocates move forward with implementation.

The conference included a number of interviews, debates and speakers with valuable takeaways and highlights. The opening interview with Zooko Wilcox, Founder of Zcash, addressed the challenge of privacy when talking about open financial networks. The idea of transparency is a basic principle behind using a technology like blockchain, which provides a visible record of transactions. Wilcox emphasized the difficulties, specifically about how financial institutions can apply the technology and prevent information leaks to unauthorized parties. Zcash, a decentralized and open source cryptocurrency, aims to offer “total payment confidentiality, while still maintaining a decentralized network using the public blockchain.” The company offers an encrypted system which can be decrypted by authorized users, allowing transparency for involved parties, but eliminating privacy concerns raised by the public blockchain.

Following Wilcox, the attendees heard a discussion and debate on permissioned versus permissionless blockchains. The discussion, moderated by Tone Vays, head of research at BraveNewCoin, briefly touched upon the history of the blockchain, referencing the moment Satoshi Nakamoto first referred to the technology as a chain of blocks in 2013. The group talked about the blockchain’s immutability and use-cases for permission or permissionless blockchains.

An interview with Bill Barhydt, the founder and CEO of Abra revealed his efforts to revolutionize P2P money exchange between two phone numbers. Barhydt discussed his quest to solve this problem for more than a decade, with a focus on eliminating the use of a middle man in these transactions. Barhydt claimed that his company, Abra, solves bitcoin volatility issues through smart contracts.

With the rise of blockchain technology and a desire to apply that technology to potential use-cases across a number of industries, gaining an understanding of the digital currency space and the FinTech startups in the playing field is increasingly important. Corporate Insight will be publishing an in-depth look at blockchain, digital currencies companies to watch and a look at the hype surrounding the technologies in September.