Cyber Days @ UCLA | Day 2

Conversation at day two of Cyber Days was tremendously theoretical. The question remains, when will blockchain applications go mainstream?

  • The day began with a keynote speech from Sandra Ro, previously of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Ro, now COO of UWINCorp, highlighted the Australian Securities Exchange‘s (ASX) anticipated integration of distributed ledger technology (DLT) as an exemplary use case.

    A public consultation paper on ASX’s implementation is due at the end of March 2018, but the earliest we’ll see a transition to DLT could be summer 2018. Ro further suggested that blockchain and DLT are ripe for adoption in land registration systems and the intellectual property world.

    Perhaps the high point of the day occurred relatively early, as Tezos co-founder Kathleen Breitman sat down for a “fireside chat” with Veronica Reynolds, a second-year law student at UCLA. The room was abuzz as the young entrepreneur shared her experiences. Breitman disclosed that Tezos is due to launch in approximately four weeks.

    During the Q&A session, ETHNews asked Breitman whether Tezos is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After all, earlier this month, Reuters reported that the SEC had declined a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by a lawyer representing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

    Breitman shifted uncomfortably in her chair and did not answer the question, but she did say she does not regard Tezos as a securities offering. Although the Tezos Foundation is based in Switzerland, there are clearly US investors in the project. During an informal audience poll, several attendees raised their hands to indicate that they had participated in the controversial Tezos ICO.

    This leaves critical questions. How would Tezos be classified under the Howey Test? Will the SEC issue a cease-and-desist order like it did with Munchee?

    The next discussion focused on potential blockchain applications for the music industry. Blockchain would seem like the perfect solution for the treacherous landscape of music copyright management and royalty payments. Alas, as noted by members of the panel, it’s not obvious how to streamline this industry – or whether entrenched players have any incentive to change the current structures.

    In a panel entitled “Beyond Crypto: The Case for Blockchain in Financial Services,” the most insightful point was delivered by Christopher Mone of Delaware Trust Bank.

    Mone told the story of a young couple that approached his firm with a large amount of cryptocurrency. The husband kept his cryptocurrency on a USB, but the wife revealed that she had no idea how to access the wallet (if anything happened to her husband). This is illustrative of a much larger problem – that of family members and loved ones losing access to cryptocurrency wallets because of the nature of private keys.

    Mone also asserted that we – as a community – need real, commercial blockchain applications within the next 24 months. Otherwise, he said, something else will come along.

    The final panel of the day featured Tom Soderstrom, Arun Viswanathan, and Chris Mattman of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The trio hosted an open discussion regarding how blockchain technology might be useful for space exploration. From data integrity to aircraft part provenance, the dialogue encapsulated a wide variety of use cases. The group inquired whether public or private blockchain iterations would be better suited to their purposes and also discussed cryptocurrency-based payments for research papers. While JPL perceives intriguing possibilities, it was clear that this is a very, very early stage of inquiry.

    Ultimately, Cyber Days spoke to the gap between expectations and reality in the blockchain space. Cryptocurrency prices might be high, but the community is hungry for dedicated development.

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