IoT, Smart Contracts Focus of Blockchain Expo London 2017

London Correspondent Nick Ayton gives us a summary of Blockchain Expo London 2017, the two-day event at London’s Olympia Conference Centre.

As a speaker, chairman and panel member, I really enjoyed this event. It was slick, well organized, high in Blockchain content and it was rammed.  The atmosphere was expectant and I can see them needing a bigger venue for next year. The bar is now set very high for Blockchain events!

The genius of Ian Johnson from Six Degree Events - who also managed to get “the Woz” involved in the “Hackfest” Hackathon in Berlin - has combined Blockchain with IoT, which will inevitably play an enormous role in maturing Blockchain as a great boxed pair.

With IoT seemingly ahead, as demonstrated by the number of devices and robots on show, the entire sector is accelerating fast with some very cool tech on show and the inevitable Hackathon that draws in the geeks.

Germany live cases

The Blockchain activities were broken down into two: an Industry Stream, the conference focusing on the activities of the banks and other industries, and Technologies and Development, focusing on pure play Blockchain businesses and startups.

Leading Blockchain evangelists were visible including Stephan Tual who was there from the very beginning. Personally, I was pleased to see Stephan Tual, one of my favorite speakers and the ex-CCO of Ethereum, now COO of Slock.it, join me on the Technology and Development stage where I chaired day two.

He is one of the few people capable of bringing Ethereum smart contracts alive, and who showed us some great use cases as they were rolling out to live customers in Germany.

Bitcoin as smart contract

Griff Green, a crypto pioneer, raised the roof and gave us a huge input of energy after joining the stage in the afternoon, talking about the DAO and announcing to a wide-eyed expectant audience that “Bitcoin cryptocurrency was, in fact, a smart contract.”

It was something the audience struggled to take in. Griff confirmed there is a serious resource and skills shortage in the Blockchain industry, especially Ethereum development languages, in particular, Solidity - something I will be writing about later this week.

It was great to see the best Blockchain thinkers @Blockchain_Expo many of which are also friends and colleagues. High-quality shows serve as a constant reminder of the depth of talent and wide array of use cases being worked on and rolled out. It was great to see so many startups up and running, doing real stuff, not being obsessive with ICO’s to raise money and preferring to actually build something.

Looking across the Blockchain streams at the show, they fall into three main areas:

New ways of using cryptocurrencies for payments, remittance and merchant services

Bitcoin and crypto rails are ideal for designing new forms of payments, remittance and new banking services on the Blockchain, to disintermediate the banks.  

Attracting a lot of interest were presentations by Wirex who introduced a new personal banking platform called MONI, Plutus who delivered a structure for spending cryptos, and Kumar Gaurav at Cashaa who took on the likes of Western Union to deliver affordable remittance services to Africa.

Delayering the music industry’s many issues, simplifying payments and digital rights management

The music industry is about to get a wake-up call. Here, everyone drinks from the artist’s income but Blockchain is going to change it.

The future looks very bright, if you listen to Vaughn McKenzie at JAAK who with Phil Barry at Blokur made a huge impression on the audience delivering thought-provoking insight into how they intend to disrupt and deliver improved liquidity for the industry so that artists get paid fairly and fast.

Removing fraud from the supply chain

There is no doubt that Blockchain is having a big impact on supply chain and the movement of goods globally, improving visibility, security and helping with provenance. This was another big theme of the conference with Oliver Oram at Chainvine talking about protecting the value of commodities including wine, Carl Weir at CrossVerify discussing monetizing Blockchain and Pavlo Tanasyuk, founder of BlockVerify, leading the charge to remove fraud and counterfeiting from our supply chains.

Of course, there were many other great Blockchain entrepreneurs wowing the mixed crowds that come to the event to learn and find out why Blockchain is a big deal.

Blockchain Expo is now off on a world tour landing in Berlin June. 1-2, 2017, San Francisco Nov. 29 – 30 and back in London in 2018 as the global event.

Looks like I will need to go to Berlin and then to San Francisco to get the full picture.