LBC stage in London

London Blockchain Conference offers a vision for the future—and the path to actually get there

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Having covered the digital asset industry for years now, I can confidently say that I’ve never seen anything quite like the London Blockchain Conference 2023 (LBC 2023). 

Hosted in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in central London, the event was three days of product launches, ambitious presentations, cutting-edge keynote speakers, and thought-leading panel discussions, all on diverse topics but with one thing in common: a focus on the impact blockchain technology is having on business right now.

You’ve probably heard a similar pitch before. It’s certainly not the first blockchain conference, nor is it the first time the world has heard about the ambitions of the blockchain or the work companies are doing to realize them. But what set LBC 2023 apart was how close it made these ambitions feel to reality: indeed, LBC 2023 was the first time it felt like blockchain technology had arrived.

Christen Ager on LBC Stage presenting

First, those with the most ambitious and exciting things to say about blockchain technology weren’t the marketers or even hoodie-wearing techies: they were faces from the most respectable organizations in the world, people who can already see the role blockchain will play in business and society going forward. These are people like Lars Jacob Boe, senior partner at Bain Norway, who delivered a keynote on the evolution of Web3 and the impact that transformative technology—like the single source of truth offered by blockchain—has on the finance sector. Partners from IBM’s blockchain team presented Trace, a blockchain platform allowing for the creation of ‘digital twins’ of physical goods for superior supply chain tracking. Or how about Houman Haddad, head of emerging technologies at the United Nations’ World Food Programme, who talked about how blockchain is helping the program create fairer outcomes for those who most need it.

Panels on LBC stage

But maybe more revealing than the buzz of the evangelists was the caution of the moderates. The agenda was packed with speakers and discussions advocating for careful and comprehensive regulation of digital assets and blockchain. Yves Mersch, member of the executive board of the European Central Bank and former governor of the Luxembourg Central Bank, gave the opening keynote on the second day, canvassing the various legal frameworks being implemented across the EU to govern the industry. Mersch’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion with Hollywood actor-turned-economist-turned-blockchain-critic Ben McKenzie, where those on stage were all largely in agreement that regulation needed to come to the industry for its own good. 

The opening keynote of the final day was done by Peter Schiff, who you probably know first and foremost for his time spent battling BTC-hypemen on Twitter: Schiff, outspoken as he’s been about the valueless BTC, probably surprised a few in the audience by acknowledging that a scalable, cheap blockchain is not only desirable but necessary to reinstate gold as the foundation of the global monetary system. See what surprises you can get when you broaden your horizons beyond the people who just want you to HODL?

Peter on LBC stage

It was this willingness of LBC 2023 not just to entertain the more skeptical and cautious voices in the industry but give them top billing, which set the event apart from its contemporaries, and likely will continue to do so going forward. Reading between the lines of the agenda, this was the core thrust of the whole conference: the technology to transform the world exists and, in many cases, is already in the market. What, then, is needed for the world at large to realize that? The conference had the answer: leadership, regulation, compliance, and, most importantly, scalability.

The effect this had on the vibe of the conference was obvious. Anyone who has been to one of these events before will have likely come away with the overwhelming feeling that they’ve just been pitched to for eight hours, being sold an ideology or an aesthetic. 

LBC 2023, in contrast, dared to let utility speak for itself while not being afraid to reign in unbridled enthusiasm by focusing on the wave of regulation already well underway and offering a path for nascent blockchain technology to work alongside the law. This is certainly a more concrete path to mass adoption than anything you’ll likely find back in Miami at the BTC 2023 conference by comparison.

As a result, attending LBC 2023’s many technical and business-focused sessions felt like engaging in a real conversation about the future with the grown-ups of the world. 

This feeling was only amplified by everything going on outside the two stages of the conference. For LBC 2023 was far larger than the demonstrations and discussions taking place on-stage: in totality, the conference occupied three full floors. The first floor was a networking area, with a space carved out for the event’s many celebrity speakers to get a moment’s peace before taking the stage. The second floor was a pure exhibition area, with stalls from the likes of block reward miner GorillaPool and innovative litigation experts Velitor Law, all with their own stories to tell about the industry. The third floor contained the event’s business and technical stages, as well as a large networking area and yet more exhibitor stalls from nChain, Gate2Chain, ONTIER, and more. 

Craig Wright on LBC event

Perhaps it’s too hard to convey this to an industry outsider. If that’s the case, let me try putting it in a way anybody who has attended businesses conferences will undoubtedly understand: the room for the final session of the conference was as packed as the opening keynote on the first day, which is the eternal and rarely-met measure of success for these multi-day events.

Yes, sitting in for the final session on the agenda— a typically specific but no-less relevant talk by Dr. Craig Wright on how blockchain can improve inventory handling and just-in-time processes—for the first time in a long time, blockchain technology appears to be moving forward at pace. Achieving this at a time when coverage of digital assets and blockchain is skewing negatively is no minor ask, but LBC 2023 pulled it off by focusing on the impact already being had on business today without ignoring that mass adoption is not possible without scalability and legal compliance.

Who knows where we’ll be this time next year?

Watch Day 1 Highlights: Revenue generation with blockchain tech

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Watch Day 2 Highlights: Reducing risk & improving trust with blockchain

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Watch Day 3 Highlights: Driving innovation, competitiveness with blockchain

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New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.