Under the decidedly grim moniker creating a shared future in a fractured world, the world’s elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum. Awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump, delegates were regaled with prognostications about the state of the global economy and whether national retrenchment would signal the end of multilateralism as we know it. While Trump’s remarks on the closing day of the Forum signaled that America first does not necessarily mean America alone, there was one sub-theme that echoed throughout the snow-covered mountains of Davos – Blockchain, Blockchain, Blockchain.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin’s rise to prominence (along with nearly 1,500 cryptocurrencies), is slated to transform the world, or so its adherents proclaim. While Blockchain and digital assets were widely featured on the main stage at Davos, perhaps the most insightful conversations were taking place in standing room only events hosted by groups like the Global Blockchain Business Council, whose CEO, Jamie Smith, and chairman, Tomicah Tillemann, have emerged as global emissaries helping Blockchain go mainstream. Indeed, Jamie Smith has made it her personal mission to be the explainer-in-chief of this powerful technology so that more of the world can grasp its potential.
A lofty agenda dominated these Blockchain discussions, which turned from emerging regulatory frameworks, such as Gibraltar’s move to become the bona fide marketplace of choice for initial coin offerings (ICOs). To the EU Parliament’s staunchest digital transformation advocate, Eva Kaili, who is working diligently to craft sensible legislation that does not stymie innovation, but encourages it. It is increasingly clear that digital assets and the distributed ledger technology that underpins them are not going away. Based on these market trends, Blockchain-based solutions may be entering a period of accelerated deployment across a wide variety of grinding problems, from financial inclusion to rural electrification among others. Indeed, the famed Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto has taken to The Wall Street Journal heralding Blockchain’s potential to eradicate poverty in a recent piece co-authored with Phil Gramm.