As use cases for blockchain grow, technologists and businesses are increasingly being joined by government in the conversation.
That was evident in D.C. last week as more than 600 curious participants including lawmakers, businesspeople and tech professionals attended the fourth DC Blockchain Summit at Georgetown University last week.
The event consisted of talks, led by prominent CEOs and founders of companies specializing in blockchain technology, wherein all facets of blockchain and its uses were discussed. This included cryptocurrency, smart legal agreements, voting, and how the technology will affect government operations, digital commerce and cyber security.
According to Perianne Boring, the founder and president of The Chamber of Digital Commerce, which organized the event, what’s different about this year’s event in comparison to the other years is advocacy.
“The theme of this year’s conference is advocating for the future of blockchain, and we’ve issued our national action plan just a few weeks ago, which is a call to action to the U.S. government to make blockchain a priority,” said Boring. “We’ve officially gone on record by saying that we need the highest levels of government to demonstrate national leadership by publicly supporting and promoting blockchain technology.”
The event also provided an opportunity for education. One of the main questions surrounding blockchain: Why is it such a big deal?
“That is honestly my question- why are people using it? Why are they paying a lot of attention to it?” said Jianin Su a graduate from Georgetown University, who is currently working on research of blockchain.
According to Boring, the reason for this attention is because blockchain has the potential to fix what the internet has failed to do, which is protect our private data.
“The internet was not built with security in mind for data, so one of the biggest flaws is security mechanisms for sending things of value,” said Boring. “Blockchain was built as a data transfer protocol – a way to send things of value in a digital way- peer to peer- without the need for an intermediary, instantly, and for little to no cost at all. Blockchain will provide a mechanism to send data in a more secure and efficient way.”
Government employees, including Kylle Jordan of the State of Minnesota, attended the summit in order to get a better understanding of Blockchain and gauge whether this would be a good tool to implement on a state level.
“I work with all kinds of businesses from within the state of Minnesota and around the country who are looking at Minnesota for investment. We do anything from food manufacturing to technology, and lately we have been seeing questions related to projects linked to blockchain applications,” said Jordan. “Folks will come to us and say, ‘My cryptocurrency application is the future and if you aren’t incentivizing me your state is not cutting edge, so I’m trying to understand better why the state might look to incentivize a project like that.”
States such as Wyoming, California, Washington and New Hampshire have already started to embrace blockchain by implementing cryptocurrency-friendly regulations to try to incentivize companies to open shop.
“We need to take proactive measures on how we are going to create an environment for businesses to be successful here and for the technology to be able to grow and develop here,” said Boring.
The chamber has been vastly growing in membership since the first summit in 2016. According to Boring, the chamber currently has over 200 member companies. More than 30 companies sponsored the event, including Cisco, Bloq, Discover, KMPG, Nasdaq and Deloitte.
The next DC Blockchain Summit has already been announced for next year and will take place from March 11-12, 2020.