Crypto Valley Conference 2024: YouHodler Recap

Jun 12, 2024

Crypto Valley Conference 2024: YouHodler Recap

We just returned from yet another successful event at the Crypto Valley Conference - of course, put on by the Crypto Valley Association (CVA). We want to get into the details and share this event's amazing outcomes with our YouHodler family. But first, a big shout-out to the CVA team for their fantastic work! Unlike profit-driven conferences, CVA prioritizes creating value for the crypto community. 

YouHodler is proud to be an active member and contribute to this key industry event, our very own "home" conference. The event boasted participation from major corporations including Bitcoin Suisse, G-20, Cardano Foundation, Huawei, Kraken, CME Group, Internet Computer, Mina Foundation, Ripple, IMC,  Solana Foundation, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, CoinTelegraph, CNN Money Switzerland and supported by Lufthansa, Swiss Airways.

Section I: Crypto “Crosses the Rubicon”

The Crypto Valley Conference 2024 had a distinct air of industry maturity this year. Gone were the random attendees and celebrity appearances that used to be commonplace at crypto events. Instead, the focus was squarely on the fact that cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin and Ethereum, have become a mainstream asset class. This has led to a new wave of discussions on regulation. 

MiCA Regulation: A Boon for Crypto?

A major hot topic at the conference was regulation - specifically MiCA Regulation, although not forgetting DORA and cybersecurity. The first part of the landmark regulatory framework for crypto-assets in Europe focused on stablecoins has a June 2024 implementation date looming. And the second, major part coming into force at the end of the year. Hence, conference attendees were extremely interested in how Europe and Switzerland will position themselves within this new regulatory landscape.  

The intense focus on the MiCA Regulation underscores how event attendees were part of a regulation-conscious community. Everyone there sensed the immense impact that the MiCA Regulation would have on Europe and also the rest of the world - as many believe the MiCA Regulation will be the leading regulatory framework that other nations will copy in the future. 

This new shift aligns with the growing presence of traditional financial institutions at the conference.  A new trend we noticed started from the Web3 Symposium in March of this year. 

In addition, there were also discussions regarding how Switzerland will navigate this new environment, with a focus on Decentralized Finance (DeFi) projects. Some attendees saw the MiCA Regulations ``weakness”- and Switzerland’s separation from Europe -  as an opportunity for Switzerland to position itself as a new haven for DeFi innovation and legal certainty. 

Scaling challenges in the crypto community

Another key theme at CVC24 was the challenges faced by crypto companies as they scale up. Many companies built their products and infrastructure during the bear market and are now facing the pressure of adapting their management styles to accommodate rapid growth. This is particularly true for tech teams, where the skill set required for a founding CTO may be very different from what's needed for a CTO managing the flows of different teams.. 

CBDCs: Up, NFTs: Down

Discussions also centered around Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) with insights from the Swiss National Bank on their ongoing projects. There was a call for self-regulation within the industry to manage risks for mass-market investors, and the evolving tokenization of real-world assets was seen as a way to bring new asset classes into the crypto space

Interestingly, the conversation around risk management highlighted a key takeaway: the risks associated with cryptocurrencies and digital assets are not inherently different from those faced in traditional asset trading. Concerns include fraudulent custodians, unethical issuers, front-running trades, manipulative market behavior, money laundering, and crime financing. 

Just like other segments of the financial market, crypto grapples with balancing privacy and compliance. On a positive note, congratulations to the winners of the startup competition, Hakata, whose focus on privacy and compliance solutions aligns perfectly with this evolving landscape.

A highlight of the conference was a presentation by Thomas Moser from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) offering a glimpse into their Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) initiatives. Moser discussed ongoing projects including Project Helvetia Phase 2 (now live for a limited audience), Project Jura, and Project Mariana (focused on cross-border payments). Project Agora, particularly, generated excitement. 

This ambitious project envisions a single system that integrates wholesale CBDC with tokenized private money from commercial banks, enabling cross-border transactions. The scale of this project surprised even the SNB representatives, and the announcement of its cross-border capabilities during the bull market further fueled optimism for the future of CBDCs.

Lastly, NFTs were not a major topic of discussion, suggesting that they may have reached a point of maturity where they are no longer a novelty.

Section II: Tech Observations

This year’s conference highlighted a crucial shift in focus for the crypto industry. The emphasis has moved from rapid innovation to user adoption and integration with traditional finance. A key takeaway was the need to simplify user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX). 

Years of complex functionalities have created a barrier to mass adoption. The industry must learn from projects like Starlink, which made internet access simple and ubiquitous. Similarly, crypto needs to become accessible and user-friendly, either directly or through partnerships with established institutions like banks. This sentiment resonated with Frederick Gregaard, CEO of the Cardano Foundation, who envisioned a future where billions of people utilize blockchain technology without even realizing it.

However, innovation shouldn't stagnate. The conference also showcased exciting advancements on the technical side. Layer 2 protocols, like Lightning Network, are gaining traction. Kudos to Lightspark for their efforts in boosting Lightning adoption and developing unique features like UMA. Additionally, DFinity and Internet Computer are paving the way for real-world blockchain applications, even incorporating AI on the blockchain.

Furthermore, Zero-knowledge technology is making waves in Web 3, while Decentralized Finance (DeFi), staking, and re-staking are poised to become mainstream financial tools. 

These advancements will integrate seamlessly with traditional finance, offering a wider range of financial products like:

  • custodial services, 
  • ETFs, 
  • options, 
  • and futures

all powered by blockchain technology.

Section III: Other Highlights

Another highlight that impressed us was the noticeably strong presence from Asia. Numerous delegations actively participated in the event. This culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding signed between CVA Invest Hong Kong and the Crypto Valley Association (CVA) of Switzerland. This agreement aims to foster collaboration between the two regions' thriving fintech ecosystems. You can find more details on this development here on LinkedIn.

Robinhood acquires Bistamp

Another major news item during the conference was Robinhood's acquisition of Bitstamp. While the crypto community generally welcomed this news as a positive step towards mainstream adoption, some concerns were raised. Experts pointed out that MiCA might be losing its intended effect. This acquisition facilitates another US giant entering the European market.

YouHodler’s role in CVC24

YouHodler played an active role at the event with three representatives participating in different panel discussions: 

  1. Julian Grech tackled the topic of compliance being a key driver for mass adoption. The discussion explored the nuances of regulatory approaches in various regions and how to collaborate effectively with regulators. A key takeaway was the need for continued collaboration between industry and regulators to ensure regulations keep pace with innovation.
  2. Alexandra Lloyd focused on "Tokenizing Fandom: A New Era of Sport and Entertainment." The panel discussion aimed to balance hype with practical applications, focusing on successful projects in the early stages of sports and entertainment tokenization. YouHodler highlighted their long-standing partnership with Torino FC, showcasing a successful model for fostering engagement within both traditional and crypto communities.
  1. Finally, Ilya Volkov participated in a discussion titled "Not Missing a Beat, Developing Products in Crypto." The panel delved into the current challenges hindering crypto adoption and explored solutions for unlocking mass market potential. Convenience emerged as the key factor to attract mainstream audiences, with parallels drawn to Starlink's success in making internet access simple and ubiquitous.

Other notable speakers and panelists included

  • Lily Liu from the Solana Foundation spoke on how Solana Enables the Original Vision of Blockchain
  • Chris Donovan from the NEAR Foundation, speaks about what real decentralization looks like.
  • Andreas Furrer from the University of Lucerne speaking about why Zug is investing $40 million in blockchain research
  • Payal Shah from CME Group speaking about decoding crypto derivatives. 
  • Maximilian Ruf from Ripple on a panel with YouHodler discussing developing products in crypto. 
  • Mathias Imbach from Sygnum Bank on the future of Crypto Banking

Conclusion: True Work-Life Balance in Action

The Crypto Valley Conference struck a perfect chord between informative content and valuable networking opportunities. Beyond the sessions, the YouHodler/IMC boat cruise provided a memorable social event, even with a touch of dramatic stormy skies. But what truly set CVC apart was the unexpected amenity – on-site makeup artists and hairdressers! This unique perk ensured the ladies looked their best, raising the question: why wouldn't all conferences offer such a thoughtful touch?

Now, please enjoy these photos from the event. Hope to see you there next year!

More pictures: here


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