The World Economic Forum 2020: Blockchain Trumps Davos
The YouHodler team just returned from a productive, informative and above all, inspiring trip to Davos, Switzerland. Despite it being winter, January is a “hot” time of the year for Davos as it hosts a number of groundbreaking events in the realm of finance and economy. At the center of these events, was the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF). An annual gathering where the globe’s economic elite discuss the past year and plans for the future.
YouHodler was fortunate to attend these core events in Davos where we made countless connections and more importantly, witnessed world leaders accept blockchain technology as a legitimate industry for the first time in history. Here’s a quick glimpse at our time in Davos seen through the eyes of our traveling YouHodler team.
Part I: YouHodler’s mobile and dynamic approach to Davos
YouHodler, and essentially anyone involved in technology, is in a mobile state of mind. We live in a world where anything and everything can be done with a tap of a button. Anytime, anywhere. Hence, we thought it would be hypocritical if we didn’t arrive at Davos representing this mobile philosophy to its full extent.
Yes, that picture above is a YouHodler branded camper van, complete with custom made company flags. For those that don’t know, booking a hotel in Davos between the 19th-27th of January is nearly impossible. The small mountain town is flooded beyond capacity with conferences, panels, and social events. Only the true global elite (and smart mobile guys) can manage it. On top of that, advertising costs in Davos during this time are astronomic.
Therefore, YouHodler decided we could solve both the accommodation issue and the advertising issue with one easy solution. During the event, we had a prime location near all the independent venues and top tier ad space in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, where none other than President Donald Trump was staying. Aside from that, we truly enjoyed the natural, camping experience with some friendly European travelers who we now consider true friends.
Part II: The World Economic Forum and why we’re here
As much fun as we had driving around Switzerland in our YouHodler van and waving our YouHodler flags, we did come to Davos with a key focus in mind. We came to do our part in representing blockchain-based FinTech innovation and to learn more about what the corporate elite think about this blossoming technology. Without giving to much away, we were pleased with the results.
This year’s theme at the World Economic Forum was “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” Sustainability was a hot topic in 2019 and it looks to keep that trend well into 2020 and beyond. Environmental “wunderkind” Greta Thunberg presented her opinion on the environment, which surely brought a lot of fanfare and press to the event. While it was certainly interesting watching her presentation and the subsequent panels on economic and ecological sustainability, YouHodler was more interested in the second major talking point of the WEF 2020.
Part III: The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Omnipresent, mobile supercomputers. Hyper-intelligent robots. Genetic code editing. Self-driving cars. Artificial intelligence. Blockchain. These are all key factors of what the Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab like to call “the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” In the past, other industrial revolutions helped to free mankind from animal power, created a new form of mass production and brought us new digital abilities to billions around the world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be a bit different.
This time, humans are faced with new technologies that are fusing the old world with the new and human world with the digital world. Amongst these new technologies is that of blockchain. For the first time ever, we saw world leaders and the economic elite have serious discussions about blockchain’s acceptance and how it will integrate into our future.
Right now, governments are struggling to regulate new technologies like blockchain and others that are apart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It will not be an easy adjustment as businesses, governments, society, and individuals must find new ways to adapt. However, a key takeaway from the WEF is that this massive revolution is completely within the control of us, the humans. We simply need to collaborate across borders, cultures, and philosophies in order to take advantage of the opportunities these technologies represent.
Schwab called upon leaders and WEF attendees to say that together we can
“shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”
With that call to action echoing throughout the halls of Davos, central bank policymakers presented to attendees their new framework to help central banks analyze, design and deploy central bank digital currency (CBDC). For the very first time, Davos gathered various insights from these central bank researches, global-policy makers and international institutions to create a CBDC Policy-Maker Toolkit. This toolkit will guide all policy-makers to decide whether CBDC is healthy for their economy and if so, help them further through design and deployment on a large scale.
In addition, the WEF also announced the introduction of the Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance, which will help to increase easy access to the financial system using innovative policy solutions. Governance is a major factor of any form of currency, traditional or digital. Hence, a large governance framework must be built to guarantee safety, legitimacy of payments, efficiency and fair competition amongst digital currencies.
Part IV: Zooming in on blockchain at the CV Summit
Focusing on the topic of blockchain as a part of the larger, Fourth Industrial Revolution, it was nice to see intense, top-level discussions at the CV Summit about blockchain technology. A technology that just a couple years ago, people saw as a fancy tech fad for nerds only. The main thesis of this discussion was that of regulation. There are generally two schools of thought when talking about regulation. Many think regulation is essential for blockchain’s mainstream adoption. Yet, on the other hand, many are concerned that increased regulation means the end of anonymity for cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Looking at the facts, we can say regulation is 100% here to stay. We’re already seeing many countries start to regulate blockchain and crypto and this number is increasing every year. Switzerland, for example, is leading the way in not only full government regulation of digital currencies but investing resources into developing blockchain companies via the country’s “Crypto Valley.” As successful as Switzerland has been in being a pioneer in this, they are still trying to find the perfect balance of regulation, solid KYC/AML policies and data privacy for all users.
In our opinion, this will be the key debate throughout 2020. Can crypto evolve into a mainstream tool while still maintaining it’s anonymous characteristic? With the increased concern over data privacy, will people be as willing to comply with KYC/AML procedures? Brittany Kaiser, a former employee at Cambridge Analytica and now founder of #OwnYourData was a highlight of the CV Summit and helped shed some light on the matter.
Cambridge Analytica helped expose a major concern over our private data and the realization that we don’t actually own it. If crypto is ever going to go mainstream, this issue needs to be solved. Perhaps, as some suggest, tokenization is the key. Last year, Ms. Kaiser held a conference where CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix states
“We’re going to see a new type of economy emerging where people can start to take ownership of their data and monetize on their data, and that is only possible through the blockchain.”
Perhaps we will see a future of tokenized private data that will develop along with the growth of KYC/AML procedures.
Part V: Crypto-fiat banks, Switzerland and new friends
It’s no coincidence the WEF and related events are held in Switzerland. The country has always had a high reputation for banking and finance. Now, this reputation is carrying on into the industries of crypto and blockchain. Swiss crypto-fiat banks like Sygnum, SEBA and Bitcoin Suisse (expected to receive its license soon) are leading the way in terms of crypto-fiat cooperation and evolution. They are pioneers who are creating a very important foundation and facilitator for the industry. Together with other industry professionals, they are writing the rules on this new industry, developing innovative regulation policies and frameworks like OpenVasp, an open protocol to implement FATF’s Travel Rule for digital assets.
It was an honor to be also invited to the Swiss House (pictured above) to discuss how we will carry on the tradition of Swiss economic brilliance into the new digital economy. As many know, Switzerland is an excellent place for business due to the country’s friendly regulations, innovation, and suberb infrastructure. We’d like to thank our colleagues from the Switzerland Global Enterprise for having us at the Swiss House and helping us establish our legal entity in Switzerland five months ago.
Conclusion: Blockchain is here and it’s here to stay
No longer is blockchain technology just a fringe concept for tech and crypto enthusiasts. Blockchain was a central talking point at Davos 2020 and is a key element in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Through ups and downs, this technology has come a long way and YouHodler was excited to see it finally being taken seriously by the global elite. Of course, we still have a long way to go in terms of transparency, regulation and data privacy but progress is being made each day and YouHodler is happy to be apart of that effort in Switzerland.
We came away from the event with more connections, more ideas and more inspiration then we even know what to do with. Suffice to say, 2020 will be a great year for the industry, for YouHodler and for all those that support us.