The largest crypto currency conference held in the US kicked off today, Consensus 2018, and by all accounts attendance is excellent. Even though tickets go for about $2,000, press reports from the venue described very long check in waits and 8,500 attendees to the 3-day event. Last year’s attendance was just 2,700.
Many of the talks/panels are livestreamed so you can avoid the lines and the expense and still see some of the content (link at the end of this section).
What always intrigues us most about such events is which topics the organizers choose to highlight. In the case of Consensus 2018, it looks like this:
- Real world applications. No less a figure than Fred Smith, legendary Chair/CEO of FedEx, was on an early panel. An SVP from IBM is on deck tomorrow to discuss enterprise application using blockchain technology. Deloitte follows immediately after with an announcement on the same topic. There are also discussions lined up on how all this applies to global shipping and logistics, insurance, and auditing.
- The Token economy. Distinct from crypto-currencies, tokens use blockchain technology to track transactions, ownership and related information. This is where the virtual world meets the physical world, and there are panelists from the real estate, automotive, and intellectual property management industries, plus several others.
- The role of government and central banks. An understandably large topic in every crypto conference, and Consensus 2018. The Federal Reserve’s Jim Bullard made some news today by highlighting bitcoin’s volatility as an impediment to adoption as a currency. Still, representatives from a wide array of geographies are speaking at the conference, from the State of Illinois to Bermuda to Gibraltar. And, of course, there is a whole panel on enforcement with the SEC and CFTC speaking on this critical topic.
- Nuts and bolts. This is where the conference spends most of its time, and the range of topics is dizzying. Suffice it to say that cryptocurrencies and tokens remain in their infancy, so everyone involved is deeply interested in how these ecosystems can scale.
- Financialization. It wouldn’t be a crypto conference without panels on how to trade bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
The bottom line to all this: looking through the conference schedule it is clear cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are now legitimate topics for “serious people” to discuss and there is a lot of capital going to work in the space. The topics have the feel of a group of smart people feeling around for an answer. Despite the name of the conference, there is no consensus about what those might be. That will probably have to wait for Consensus 2019.
To watch select events live, click here: https://www.coindesk.com/events/consensus-2018/agenda/