Held in the fantastic Tribeca 360°, BlockTalks was an event that brought together the best that blockchain has to offer with an amazing lineup of speakers. The panoramic view established a lively atmosphere which was ideal to get in touch with the rest of the blockchain community and an opportunity to share your enthusiasm for the future of blockchain over drinks before the main event.
There were professionals from several industries who attended, including those from retail, hospitality, real estate, logistics, and more. Those from finance (JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, etc) were especially interested in the peer-to-peer borrowing and lending platform of the Celsius Network.
BlockTalks featured a broad spectrum of speakers from NASA, IBM Celsius, ConsenSys, discussing the future of blockchain in finance, real estate and healthcare.
Florence Hudson, a Grumman and NASA aerospace engineer, kicked off the event talking about the uses of blockchain in the healthcare industry. She emphasized the importance of secure data sharing in the industry, pointing out that lives could be saved by implementing blockchain technology.
Florence is a former IBM Vice President and Internet2 Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer. She works with academia, industry and government entities to accelerate scientific discovery and develop innovations for future uses of the Internet. Her focus areas include big data and analytics, healthcare and life sciences, the Internet of Things, end-to-end trust & security, and smart campuses & communities.
She also serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Blockchain in Healthcare Today, and as Special Advisor to the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub for Next Generation Internet at Columbia University.
Florence’s talk focused on applications of blockchain technology in managing the internet of things in healthcare.
She gave examples of blockchain inspired solutions to common problems within the medical field, such as the risk and security management with scientific instruments, vehicles, buildings, cameras, and sensitive medical devices, as well as data sharing, supply chain management, and research.
For example, one specific issue is that healthcare data is often not available to patients themselves because of data siloing and vulnerability to change, and this issue is leading to patients who don’t understand their own health, causing many patient deaths every year.
However, by incorporating healthcare data into a blockchain based platform, data can be more easily shared, without compromising its credibility, allowing patients to understand their health better, improving the ease of migrating data from one healthcare provider to another, and provides quality data for continued research and development.
Another important use she touched upon was in supply chain management of sensitive medical equipment. Incorporating the manufacturing and shipping information on a blockchain platform will create an indisputable track record of where the device has been and will alleviate uncertainties about its source.
In essence, blockchain offers a solid management solution for the internet of medical devices, and in general offers a new form of healthcare data infrastructure that is transparent, accurate, and easily transferable.
The next talk, given by Mohammad (Mo) Shaikh, a co-founder of Pangea and director at Consensys, focused on how blockchain can be used to innovate real estate processes, one of the most revolutionary implementation of blockchain: securitization of real world assets.
Mo joined Consensys from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in their Private Equity practice, bringing experience in investments and strategy. At BCG, Mo advised on Energy IPO institutional investor strategy, M&A for the Middle East’s largest telecom and Sovereign Wealth Fund investment management. Prior to BCG, Mo worked for BlackRock, where he focused on real estate alternative assets and helped found the firm’s sustainability committee. Mo also serves on the Advisory Board for the SS Venture Capital Fund, the Board for CUNY Hunter College, the Board of MUPPIES NYC and is a member of the Bushwick Community.
Mo’s talk focused on how tokenization of real estate property titles can make the real estate property transfer process more streamlined and efficient.
The business model of his company, Pangea, is a use case of tokenized properties.
Pangea allows people to invest in fractional ownership of land or buildings, and makes the real estate investment market more accessible to people with less capital reserves.
In a demo, he showed that the ownership transfer process can be as quick as just a few minutes, and be less vulnerable to errors than the traditional process, because it is powered by the Ethereum blockchain.
He also spoke about how blockchain based records can mitigate the problem of access to land titling, an issue that affects over 70% of the world’s population.
A blockchain based government land registry would enable more efficient transfer of real estate or titles, real time tracking of a country’s land assets, increased investment in land and property, simpler tax collections, and protect citizen rights and livelihood.
He mentioned that Dubai is currently aiming to have all its land assets recorded in the Landstream Registry project by year 2020 as part of its Blockchain 2020 initiative, in the hopes that future land transactions become paperless, fast, and efficient.
Mo’s talk showed that blockchain had the ability to not only make real estate investing a more accessible and efficient process in the developed world, but also, that it can be a low-cost and scalable solution to the problem of land title management with governments that are low on financial resources and/or human capital.
To conclude the amazing discussions we were treated to a talk with event host Alex Mashinsky, founder of the Celsius Network. Alex is a serial entrepreneur and founder of seven startups, raising more than $1 billion and exiting over $3 billion. Alex founded two of New York City’s top 10 venture-backed exits since 2000: Arbinet, with a 2004 IPO that had a market capitalization of over $750 million and Transit Wireless, currently valued at $1.2 billion.
Over 35 patents have been issued to Alex, relating to exchanges, VOIP protocols, messaging and communication. In fact, Alex has a foundational patent on VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology dating back to 1994 and is now working on MOIP (Money Over Internet Protocol) technology.
As a grand finale, Alex motivated the reasons and timing for a service such as the Celsius Network, to disrupt the antiquated system of financial intermediaries.
As ownership of cryptocurrencies becomes more popular, Celsius offers a way for people to earn a return on their cryptoassets, or use them like traditional assets, as collateral for other investments in fiat currencies.
Just like how traditional banks often guarantee an interest on fiat money, customers who use the Celsius wallet to store their coins will be able to earn a guaranteed return on the amount, turning their wallets into a sort of savings account.
Celsius then becomes the custodian for these assets, and offers them for investment to speculators like banks and hedge funds, or smaller organizations who want to borrow or short them, as members of the Celsius network.
In a sense, Celsius is paving the way for organizations who want to be financial intermediaries in a new financial system that recognizes both fiat and cryptos.
Alex also spoke about the ongoing crowdsale of the Degree (CEL), which is the token that will power the public blockchain of transactions that serves the core of their business.
BlockTalks concluded with a Q/A session that included Duke Long, Real Estate Technology Expert, broker and owner of The Duke Long Agency and also Managing Partner of PUR Ventures, and Patrick Janson, COO at ProDeal360, a software platform that helps lawyers, lenders, and title companies close deals quickly in a secure and scalable manner.
The Q&A highlighted the growing interest of major industry professionals about the capabilities of blockchain. The speakers were incredibly insightful, the audience was excited to get the chance to speak with them directly following the main event.
The developments made by ConsenSys and Celsius Network reveal the speed at which blockchain is creating a wave of disruption across the board in every industry. Last year the tone of blockchain was curiosity but it’s now apparent that adoption is happening faster than anticipated on a global scale.
From the BlockTalks event it’s clear that those who adopt new blockchain innovations stand to position themselves as leaders in their industries.