Less Bitcoin, More Business Value: Blockchain Expo in London

May 10, 2018

In the sea of blockchain events happening every month all over the world, Blockchain Expo Global 2018 was a fresh, uplifting breeze. The event took place on 18-19 of April and gathered blockchain development and consultancy companies, developers, and technology enthusiasts from all over the world to network, discuss the technology, and find partnerships at London’s Olympia. While cryptocurrency remained a major topic, the expo served as a platform for fruitful discussions and sharing of real-life blockchain technology use cases.

Intellectsoft took a pivotal part in the expo. It was the first event our recently announced Blockchain Lab took part in, and the first time we shared our massive blockchain project in detail — our Board Director Michael Minkevich delivered the keynote.

Nick Kurat, Director of the Lab, answered questions and discussed all things blockchain with the attendees, sharing the expertise from the impactful blockchain solutions we delivered over the last two years. Joining him was Tim Kozak, Head of Technology at the Lab, who also delivered a talk about the history of blockchain.

Meanwhile, the event had many highlights, from extensive blockchain solution showcase from Porsche — to numerous compelling panels that discussed blockchain implementation across industries.

Read the story of the two-day expo in our post-event coverage.

Day 1 — The History of Blockchain Unfolding Before Us

Though a lot of people consider that blockchain is still in its young years, the progress the technology has made since 2015 is nothing but astonishing. From recounting the history to numerous use cases to panels that were rooted in reality, Day 1 of Blockchain Expo put the cryptocurrency talk aside to show how much has been achieved in the blockchain world.

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This was the main aim of the keynote by Tim Kozak, Head of Technology at Intellectsoft Blockchain Lab. His “Witnessing the Evolution of Blockchain” keynote speech brought to attention a number of facts that are easily lost in the overwhelming blockchain hype: bitcoin was only worth $220 in 2015, and that it has been only three years since Ethereum, Hyperledger, R3 consortium, and Lightning Network have seen the light of the digital day.

Tim also stated that the last three years were immensely challenging for blockchain as a technology. First, it has prompted a massive technological shift in a rapidly changing environment. Second, educational info, documentation, tools, and blockchain specialists were scarce. Nevertheless, in less than three years, the world has seen the first blockchain technology uses cases. These were not small scale projects: companies like EY, Maersk, and Comcast have already used the immense benefits of blockchain technology, coming in conjoint usage of smart contract code and IoT in a single, meticulously developed software platform. Terms like “sidechain” will not leave the territory of the blockchain world anytime soon, but other, for example DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology), are becoming increasingly common.

blockchain conference 2018

Tim also mentioned that governments and businesses around the world gradually grapple with the first wave of blockchain laws. He also stated that there are significantly more opportunities for blockchain-related education and talent development today than it was half a year ago.

Finally, the fact that blockchain is quickly going from oddity to basic technology was also emphasised by the blockchain expo itself, with an enormous number of attendees from different countries and industries gathering to network and discuss how the technology will reshape the enterprise, and the world.

Kozak’s keynote was partly based on the book he co-wrote. It covers the history of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, existing blockchain solutions (including the Estonian blockchain based governmental services), as well as the future of blockchain solutions for business. You can download it for free.

blockchain technology conference

Tim Kozak (upper row, in the middle) and other leading experts of Intellectsoft Blockchain Lab hold a discussion with the guests of our booth

Meanwhile, Tim Kozak’s talk was preceded by a keynote from Eileen Lowry, Global Program Director, IBM Blockchain Garage. She shared Garage’s first projects early on, establishing that the expo will be more about blockchain’s high potential than confounding hype. Lowry urged to dream big with blockchain technology solutions, and use them to change the future; to always consider business value at the start of a blockchain project; and to approach blockchain like a team sport, that is to actively make connections.

Blockchain Expo Provides Concrete Cases

The event continued with an extensive keynote on the food supply chain of the future from Vincent Doumeizel, Vice President Food & Sustainability, Lloyd’s Register. The keynote made it evident that the promise of blockchain solutions can help the humanity face the future challenges in the food industry (population growth, food fraud, and other) as well as address key customer demands — healthy food, fair trade, animal welfare, social responsibility, food security. What is more, a blockchain platform would protect the food system from bioterrorism. Making a solid case, Vincent Doumeizel argued that the current blockchain hype should be followed by the hope that emerging technologies can make the world a better place — citing positive statistics on how significantly the poverty level has dropped in the last two hundred years.

Earlier in the day, Yan Li, CEO, GXS Foundation Ltd, delivered a compelling talk on building data economy ecosystems that give the users full control of their data and its monetization. Such a system relies on three cornerstone components — users, a mobile application (more specifically a decentralized application, or DApp), and a data exchange platform. According to Li, a well-built blockchain platform with these underlying elements will allow to address current key challenges: invasion of privacy, no incentive scheme for a data owner to share their data, no copyright protection. Finally, Yan Li shared two blockchain development solutions from China, one of which is a blockchain city in a decentralized blockchain app, on its own blockchain platform.

Another impressive keynote came from Porsche. The legendary vehicle-maker has been embracing the latest tech decisively and profusely, including blockchain. The company has been developing a blockchain ecosystem with vehicles and user privacy at its heart. Porsche aims to establish a blockchain solution with a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), tokens, and Ethereum-based smart contracts — to elevate the smart car concept to the the highest point possible. Apart from the high level of privacy offered by blockchain solutions, Porsche drivers will enjoy easier access to car services, control over their data, and over the car in general. For example, Porsche’s blockchain solution will allow drivers to give access to their trunk, so that a delivery service employee can put the parcel into it; share their car on blockchain with friends, colleagues, and family members; charge the car; and other. Although the project is in early stages, the scale is ambitious; it seems Porsche is concrete about using the potential of blockchain to the fullest.

Towards the end of Day 1, there also was a lively discussion on the “Blockchain in the Healthcare System” panel. Moderated by Tina Woods from Collider Health, and with Stewart Southey from NHS, the participants discussed moving patient data within the blockchain, the importance of patient privacy and security in data sharing, as well as automated patient consent. The healthcare industry will be among the first to reap immense benefits of blockchain technology.

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Nick Kurat (left) answers the questions of our booth’s guests

Going back to Intellectsoft, our leading experts had been answering questions all day long. Tim Kozak and Nick Kurat, director of the Lab, were busy sharing the experience, answering questions, and holding blockchain discussions with the guests of our booth. Still, the most anticipated event was scheduled for Day 2: Intellectsoft’s Board Director Michael Minkevich would share the details of our massive blockchain project in detail for the first time.

Day 2 — Fruitful Discussions About Blockchain Technologies

Michael Minkevich’s keynote was dedicated to our ambitious blockchain project — a multi-category ecommerce platform based on digital tokens.

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Michael started off with providing a long list of challenges of the traditional ecommerce that blockchain solutions similar to ours can solve, including high commissions, low customer engagement, security risks, and obscure matching and ranking models. Then, Michael named the fundamentals of our platform that helped provide the solutions to these problems: the decision to use a private blockchain as a backbone; easy access for merchants; ensuring there is no fiat money inside the platform; establishing a platform-wide loyalty program based on digital tokens; white-label solutions for larger merchants and brands; and more.

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After this, Michael dived deeper — sharing details about how the blockchain platform’s merchant ecosystem works, its token economy, and the platform architecture, adding the statistics on the steady and consistent growth of customers, merchants, and orders along the way.

Finally, Michael shared the history of the blockchain platform, pinpointing the advantages and challenges of building the two previous versions. A slide about the current version followed, and Michael made the last clicks of the remote, preparing to answer the questions of the visitors of Blockchain Expo 2018.

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Blockchain Platform as a Foundation for Business

The second day had many memorable moments, coming in exciting and diverse panels whose experts discussed blockchain usage in a number of industries.

The first prominent panel of Day 2 of Blockchain Expo 2018 was “Blockchain for Manufacturing,” which had Neil Marshall, Global Director, Quality & Food Safety at The Coca-Cola Company, among its participants. The experts started off with discussing the general applications of blockchain in manufacturing. They got to details quickly, conversing about how the technology could help in supply chain visibility, anti-counterfeiting, and airworthiness certificate tracking. The experts also brought to attention the higher level of efficiency and better cost optimisation with blockchain as a platform and blockchain solutions in general, concluding with thoughts on how the technology will influence the future of the industry.

The next panel was dedicated to blockchain solutions for business in the property market. Experts from Juniper Research and The Bitfury Group set forth how blockchain can be used to follow the entire transaction history of property, and the benefits of the technology in this case. As the panel continued, it quickly became clear that blockchain is the means that will significantly elevate the property industry. This includes immediate transactions with smart contracts from anywhere in the world, reduced fraud risks, more secure digital databases and identifications — the industry could leverage all the tools offered by the technology, in one platform.

Blockchain Regulation

Meanwhile, Day 2 also raised the crucial question of current blockchain regulation. A panel of experts discussed the development of standards for interoperable blockchain technology solutions; whether regulations need to adjust the classification of cryptocurrencies and address taxation, money laundering and security; examined the challenges of deploying blockchain solutions for business. To briefly sum it up, the majority of countries want to heavily regulate cryptocurrency, but not the blockchain technology. You can also read our extensive summary on the current state of blockchain regulation.

Continuing on the subject of blockchain and finance,  Oliver Volk, Allianz Blockchain Expert and Keynote Speaker at Allianz Re, moderated a panel dedicated to the insurance industry. The experts concluded that blockchain platforms can help drive innovation in insurance business by making it more effective in fraud detection, pricing, and lowering administrative costs; by improving customer engagement and allowing for more cost-efficient offerings on emerging markets; as well as by helping address the many trends of digitalisation in mature markets. The paired power of blockchain and IoT in one platform was also brought to attention of the attendees.

Taking Care of User Experience in Blockchain Solutions

As Blockchain Expo 2018 was coming to a close, Chris Tse from Cardstack gave his “Humanizing the Blockchain” keynote, which primary dealt with the importance of UX in blockchain technology solutions.

Dedicating a separate keynote to the subject was essential. With strong hype, the speed with which blockchain technologies evolve, and the increasingly competitive blockchain market, it is important to remember that users come first. Tse argued that, in 2018, the best interfaces still needed improvement — to offer a consistent and cohesive experience, and deliver on the promise of control of digital living.

This is especially important if the blockchain community really sees the technology as a massive force for change that would eventually reach mass adoption. In other words, when the talks about what cryptocurrencies to watch come to an end and blockchain becomes part of our daily lives, the developers need to ensure that blockchain technologies are almost as easy to use as current online stores, digital payments, or even coffee makers. Tse raised important questions: How can we design solid DApps and deliver on the promise of decentralization in full? What conceptual obstacles in users’ minds developers need to overcome to built such an app? Could we go beyond even the most bold solutions discussed at any blockchain technology conference? Tse’s talk proved to be exciting, gripping, and thought-provoking.

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Meanwhile, Blockchain Expo 2018 was coming to a close. The evening speakers made the last clicks on their remotes and prepared to answer the final questions of the event, while attendees were still holding blockchain discussions here and there. In an hour or so, Blockchain Expo 2018 will be over, with Olympia hall empty, waiting for the next conference full of daring minds and decisive entrepreneurs.

Indeed, this year’s attendees of Blockchain Expo held talks on topics like the difference between cryptocurrencies. Still, the event has shown that the immense potential of blockchain technology is steadily emerging from the hype as a technological force to positively change the enterprise, and the world.

If you missed Blockchain Expo, join our Blockchain: Rethink Trust conference that will take place in Amsterdam in June. The event will be focused exclusively on business use cases of blockchain. Learn more at https://rethinktrust.org/

If your blockchain solution can’t wait any longer — get in touch with us. We have already delivered several impactful blockchain solutions to our clients.