Canada: On-Demand Seminar: Blockchain — Leading Movers And Key Developments (Video)
Last Updated: November 21 2017

About this seminar

Gowling WLG's Toronto office hosted a breakfast roundtable on Nov. 2 with members of the blockchain community, pioneering groups including Unocoin, the Blockchain Association of Canada, Neptune Asset Group, Outlier Capital and others about their experiences in the application of blockchain to businesses.

Gowling WLG lawyers who are at the forefront of this movement will also provide a legal update about blockchain developments. Hot topics will include: capital markets (initial coin offerings, investment funds, underwriting, public transactions), blockchain litigation and more.

Keynote address by Anthony Di Iorio

Transcript

Ian:                  My name's Ian Palm. I'm a partner here in the Toronto office at Gowling and an active member as part of our Blockchain and Smart Contracts Group. As Usman had mentioned my focus is on, particularly in the capital market side and helping companies grow. Helping companies raise capital. M&A transactions and Anthony's absolutely right. There's lots of activity in Toronto, certainly, and in other major markets in Canada. We're seeing it in Calgary, Montreal and in Waterloo and in Vancouver certainly as well. We've got our panelists here. What I'm going to do is introduce them and the focus of this panel, Anthony sort of whet the appetite for you here and I'm glad we had some questions and thanks, Anthony, for engaging the audience. We want to keep that going. Our focus here is on some of the opportunities and as part of this panel discussion we're going to talk about some of the opportunities. Anthony needs no introduction. He's on my far right here. Next to him is Sunny Ray. Sunny is the Co-founder and President of Unocoin which was founded in 2013. Unocoin is now India's leading Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. He's also very active in a number of other initiatives including Fintech Canada. Next to him is Alejandro Guerrero. Have I got that right? Close enough? Okay, I apologize. My Spanish is not good as my kids will tell you. He's the Special Projects Leader with Sweetbridge which is another Blockchain company which I'll let him walk us through. He's got a broad range of expertise in the financial sector and commercial software solutions and has spent time working with First Data and GT Nexus and Infor. He's got an MBA from Colombia and electrical engineering degree from Louisiana State University. Next to him and closest to me is Troy Wong. Troy is the CEO of Neptune Group which is a private equity firm specializing in investing in the Blockchain sector. He is engaged with early stage businesses looking to raise capital, focus on the Blockchain. So some of the stuff that Anthony was talking about. Troy's been involved with a number of eco systems. Companies such as Jaxx which he can get into to. He's a Chartered Professional Accountant by training and he's got experience with a broad range of companies. So, that's the panel and our goal here is to give the folks in the audience an opportunity to understand what Blockchain can bring to markets, businesses, governments, other sectors in society and how these businesses seizing upon these opportunities. We've got some questions from the audience already and some sense of what's going on here. What I'm going to do is before we dive into some of the questions I've got here, and think about questions you may have yourself, because I do want to get some questions from the audience. But before we dive into it I want to give each panelist an opportunity to give an overview of what they're seeing, what they're doing, and I'm going to start from closets to myself here. So I'm going to give Troy the opportunity to speak first and then have Alejandro speak after and then Sunny. We'll let Anthony sort of reflect upon what the three of them said. So, Troy over to you.

Troy:               Sure, yeah, so, Neptune Asset Group, as mentioned previously, is a private equity firm that's focused on unpublic markets and sort of looking at early stage Blockchain technology companies and seeing if there's some synergy's in terms of assisting and taking them public and raising them capital. I think we've seen a huge amount of innovation in the space in the last, it's almost like a shoe drop, in like six months ago the shoe dropped and everybody sort of wants to get into Blockchain. On the public market side we're seeing companies increasing their share price by 30% by adding Blockchain to the end of their name. Which is interesting. We can sort of see lots of junior mining companies looking to change their business and almost pursue Blockchain space. Yeah, very, very interesting on the public market side and lots of opportunities.

Ian:                  Alejandro.

Alejandro:       Thank you. I'm definitely the infant in the Blockchain space compared to the rest of the panelists. But I collaborate with Sweetbridge. Sweetbridge is a company that develops protocols that take friction in the supply chains and transforms that into liquid value networks. What do I mean by that? Most of think of supply chains as boats and trains but reality is supply manages 54 trillion dollars in commerce, worldwide, and the reality is there's a lot of money that is tied up in liquid assets, or liquid processes, in the movement of this product locally. What Sweetbridge hopes to do is actually infuse liquidity into supply chains by providing mechanisms to take the assets that live within supply chains and monetize them or get capital from it.

Sunny:             Hi. My name is Sunny. Is this working? Okay, so I run one of India's leading Bitcoin Blockchain companies. The name of the company is Unocoin. We essentially enable over half a million users in India to buy, sell, use, store and accept Bitcoin. I look forward to spending this morning with you.

Anthony:         Cool. So, I'm going to follow up with a little more with the same kind of reflect on what the others are saying but, in general, where I see the industry right now, as I said in my talk, I think there's a bubble forming and we're seeing people jumping in and trying to see how they can relate this technology to their businesses. We're seeing these ICO's coming out. These ways of raising capital. Come up with an idea, people say, like you said, attach Blockchain to your name and your starting to see these evaluations go up. What I'm seeing, is something that is kind of scary for me, is that I can no longer evaluate projects anymore. And that's really interesting for me because all along, I'm invested in about 30 different projects, I advise on about maybe 15 or 16 different projects, and since 2012 my investments have all panned out. Every single one that I put money into. But now what we're seeing is, we're seeing just a surge of these new companies and new marketing ideas and it's becoming really different to distinguish projects that are really having value and those that don't. That's scary for someone that's been in the industry for such a long time. Words of caution from me is if someone like myself, or my team, is having a really hard time seeing where to put money in the space, it's got to be difficult for a lot of other people. And people are always saying, "What do I do?" and they ask me, "Where should I be going?" First of all, I don't give investment advice and secondly, I think it's really important that you really learn what you're getting into and try to understand . Get out to as many events as you can and hook up with people that you really think know a lot in the space. But at the end of the day it's wild, wild west out there. There's going to be a lot of issues and it's going to blow up eventually and I just hope that people here are not on the wrong side of things when they actually do.

Ian:                  That's sage advice that we often give as lawyers and we often get tagged for giving it. I'm glad that you spoke up about that. But I don't want to be this, I think there is massive opportunity in the space as well. I think everyone would recognize that and I think the opportunity here is to figure out, to separate the signal from the noise. With all this big data out there, there's lot of data and so on, but there's some value in that and obviously we've got 150 people registered for this event. I see that there's probably about 100 in this room, at least. People see opportunities here. Why don't we get the panelists to sort of dig down a little bit and say, "Okay, despite the fact that there perhaps is a bubble, where do you see the value? Where're you guys triaging this? Where're you seeing the efforts that are useful in creating value?" as Anthony said in his opening remarks. I don't know who wants to take that first.

Anthony:         Yeah, sure. Definitely. As I said in my talks this is going to be massively disruptive on every sector and it's going to take time and it's going to take many, many years, because I haven't seen any value really created yet. But we're seeing the companies forming and the ones that do have long lasting value will be the ones that really do change all these different sectors, and the different sectors that you're part of here, will be massively disrupted. Things will be cheaper. We're going to be races down to 0% commissions because as I mentioned this is a disintermediation technology and if you're not creating value then you're not needed anymore. Right now the third parties make things more expensive. They make things more expensive because they're facilitating trust between individuals and they're charging for that. That rent seeking model. It's a model we see in many areas. It's what Uber does. It's what Airbnb does. They basically provide a service. They charge a fee and they connect riders and drivers. But there's going to be a time where there no longer going to be needed there and the connection between the individuals will go right through the technology. Which will make things cheaper. Which will reduce percentages and eventually it's going to go down to zero and what I would like, and what I've tried to think about for years, is what are the new ways of making money. And that's what's going to emerge. If we think these rent seeking models are the only way that they can work, it's how most of you probably charge for your businesses, you're charging a fee, you're providing a service. Well, when that kind of disappears how do you still remain value between human interactions? That's what should really be looked at and thinking, "If this way will change, you know, and we think that's the only way it works right now, what if it doesn't work anymore? And what's beyond that? How do we still continue to create value? And how do we, as things go down towards zero, still remain relevant in the interaction?" It's about solving problems and about saying, "If this doesn't work anymore, and it eventually won't, what can we do instead?" It makes you start thinking outside of the box and that's what the innovations really happen.

Ian:                  Wow. Sunny, you're obviously doing this day to day basis and you're taking friction out of the system by allowing people to trade Bitcoin in your market. What's your reflection upon what Anthony's just said?

Sunny:             Yeah. So for me the revolution behind all this is the fact that, just let me ask you a question. If you're not passionate about money don't put your hand up. Right? I'd say that unanimously everybody loves money. We all go to school our whole lives. We get into fights over money. We get into wars over money. I would argue that money is probably the most misunderstood thing that everyone of us is passionate about. So, to me the thing that really excited me is when I learned about Bitcoin, prior to that I did engineering so I had somewhat of a technical understanding. I also ran my own financial brokerage. So when I discovered the white paper about Bitcoin, to me, it just struck me like the future of money. So if you like money then I would really pay attention. Then the other element is that it's essentially like, if you like the internet, then this is essentially like the internet and money coming together and having a baby. Right? So some of the things I like about Bitcoin is that it's open source. Right? There's current financial models, Swift, and all these other things are not open source. They're run by a couple of people and servers and big buildings. Bitcoin is run by thousands of people like us. Like you. I love that. The fact that it's open source. They don't hide anything. The fact that it's decentralized. There's no central point of failure. Right? I just think that the Bitcoin has solved a lot of the trust issues that Anthony alluded to. I do believe that there are a lot of other industries that technology will tackle. But for me the real revolution is just understanding that. And my recommendation, anybody who's interested in this base, really just go buy ten dollars' worth of Bitcoin. That's it. Just go buy it. Because if I told you for hours and hours about email and SMTP technology and all that you'd just go blue in the face and you wouldn't even care. But if sent you one email and you sent one to your grandmother and you just played with it you'd probably never go back. I would just highly recommend just go buy like 5, 10 bucks worth of Bitcoin or just ask one of us, we'll give you 5 bucks worth of Bitcoin.

Ian:                  He's offering to give you Bitcoin.

Sunny:             I mean Anthony. Anthony's going to give you 5 bucks.

Anthony:         Anybody still using Bitcoin?

Ian:                  Any reflections? Alejandro,  obviously Sweetbridge is trying to reduce the friction in the supply chain space and you threw some numbers out there which were staggering. Any reflections on that?

Alejandro:       Yeah, I think you got the picture now about the opportunity that we're facing and the general disruption and valuecreation that Blockchain brings to our world. I think, two fascinating pieces for me. One is, traditionally, in the global world that we live in you have seen, or you will see, that self-organized networks can address or tackle bigger problems easier than traditional states and centralized organizations. We're starting to see an acceleration of that. Bitcoin was probably the first one that was able to tackle that. But where I see the opportunity really going forward is more on developing enterprise grade applications of the Blockchain. So far we've seen the majority of the projects being consumer based, or small groups of concept, but once it reaches enterprise grade then you're going to see a lot more usage and adoption.

Ian:                  Cool. Troy, any reflections on what you've heard there? Whether some of the companies you're looking at investing into how you're discerning value from without trying to reflect upon the bubble?

Troy:               I think the first thing I was, it's very, very, very early stage as well reiterated. But what I would look at for a Blockchain company, or an ICO, is it Blockchain-able? Right? These are known as what's called protocol applications and this idea that Blockchains are in its infancy stage. They can't scale yet. There's many different competing Blockchains that are looking to provide different solutions to those scaling solutions. Ultimately, ICO's that come to the market, that try to dress Blockchain problems, I think are perceived to be higher value to us in the digital currency eco system. I think, those right now, we're in sort of hype craze where this idea I can't raise money in venture capital. I can't raise money from investment bank. I can't raise money in public markets but I can do an ICO and raise 50 million for my Blockchain-able dating app. Right? That type of stuff. I think we're all very cautious of and those are the types of opportunities that we're saying no to. We're looking for those types of businesses that are Blockchain-able that are really solving problems in the Blockchain space.

Ian:                  Okay. So dealing with the trust issues and disintermediary things where you've got a bunch of unnecessary intermediaries in the process.

Troy:               Yeah. So, a classic example of a newer ICO that came out that we were interested in was one called Chainlink. Chainlink is addressing what's called the oracle problem. It's a real issue that needs to be solved in Blockchains. It's this idea that in order to execute a smart contract you actually need an external data source. Right? You need to bring that external data source into the Blockchain and in the smart contract in order to execute. There's all these sort of questions about the validity of the data source. The accuracy of the data source, etcetera. Chainlink is one example of here's a real need here. We believe in smart contracts. We believe that it's the future and they're providing infrastructure protocol layer, solutions to those problems.

Alejandro:       Can I just add something? I think it's a very valid point because just moving an application to a Blockchain does not necessarily solve the fundamental problem that society, or businesses, are facing. In the case of supply chains they're naturally decentralized and non-trustworthy environments. Right? What I looked at when I looked at different projects is are the parties naturally centralized then they are a good fit for the Blockchain. Is there trust issues between parties where they don't necessarily want to open up and share all the information with each other. And third, is there a controlling mechanism of the data, and the gatekeeping aspects of the data that they share, that could be potentially solved automatically without a third party agent but by the Blockchain. If those three are fulfilled I think it's a good case study for Blockchain technology.

Ian:                  That's very helpful. That's very useful framework. Thank you. I'm going to ask one more question but then think about your questions here and, by all means, raise your hand. We'd be happy to take some questions from the audience. I'm sure there's some folks here that have a bunch of more questions. So, I want to focus on the fact that this is really global. Right? So this is a truly global phenomenon. We're seeing Blockchain businesses arise from all parts of the globe. We've got people here, Anthony, obviously you're based in Toronto, but you're representing groups all over the world. Sunny, you've talked about India. Alejandro, Sweetbridge is US based. And Troy, your experiences are beyond Toronto, obviously. Can you give us your sense of many of your active, in fact from our perspective we've been in an opportunity to engage with all kinds of lawyers around the world and other financial advisors that we're working with, you know, a broad range of people that are doing some interesting stuff. We're also seeing people looking for some regulatory arbitrage. I don't want to get into where to do your ICO. I'm more interested on the business side of things. Where do you guys see the opportunities? Where do you see the vanguard and where do you get excited? I don't want to delve into, let's leave aside Canada for the moment, where do else in the world do you see this true innovations happening that you get excited about? And, Sunny

Sunny:             I'm somewhat biased of it. Just to back up one second. So I am Canadian even though I maybe don't look it. I was born and raised here.

Ian:                  I'm not sure what a true Canadian looks like anymore, frankly.

Sunny:             But I'm just trying to say that we have over 100 employees and our company is growing. But I think there are some fundamental challenges. I'd love to bring our company to Canada but I think when you look at things like banking, you look at regulation, mostly banking, some of the challenges are pretty intense. About India. A couple of things that excite me. You'll often hear people refer to Bitcoin as digital gold, right? When I first discovered Bitcoin 5 years each Bitcoin was ten dollars. Today's Bitcoin is worth eight thousand dollars.

Unknown:       Seven thousand.

Sunny:             Seven thousand. There you go.

Unknown:       That's US though. In our dollars.

Sunny:             In Canadian it's eight thousand. Right? India is the largest gold market in the world. Indian women own more gold than the United States government. Right? So India also has the most number of IT professionals. If you couple those two factors together we think that India has a huge upside. I just read yesterday that Indian temples have over a trillion dollars' worth of gold buried under them. Right? Gold is highly valued. The second thing that I think makes India interesting is that Bitcoin and Blockchain and this technology also stands to disrupt remittance markets. Like Western Union and whatnot. India's also the largest remittance country in the world. More money goes back in India than any other country from foreign workers. I think those are the two big opportunities. So again, digital gold and potentially solving the remittance problem. Then third, and a more distant solution, I think people are looking to solve the un-bank problem as well. How do you bank the un-banked?

Alejandro:       I'll go next, yeah. I think, again looking at it from Sweetbridge centric point of view, supply chains are global. Therefore you need to operate in a global environment. But to your question specifically of where is that companies should be attracted to? What are the environments that facilitate Blockchain startups? I looked at it from four different elements. One is, as Sunny referred, is speed and agility that you're able to operate based on regulation existing in that jurisdiction. The facilitation to jump in new innovative ways to raise capital, like in the case of Blockchain, would be through an ICO. Tax structures. Some countries are more favourable on their tax structure than others. Lastly, and very importantly, the community that supports the Blockchain environment. There's countries and jurisdictions that are leading in that end and others that are falling behind and trying to catch up. There's not one place that I could tell you go there because it has the perfect mix of all these elements. You just have to make your decision based on the priorities.

Ian:                  Troy, Alejandro gives us an interesting framework. How can Canada become a global leader in this space or can it? And where do we have advantages and where do we need to work on those advantages? Where we need to improve ourselves to take advantage of these situations?

Troy:               I think, obviously, regulatory certainty would be nice. I don't know if I can think of any other industry, or any other business, other than maybe Uber, for example.

Ian:                  Okay.

Troy:               Where if you were to talk to someone and say, "What are the risks of digital currencies, ICO's?" specifically, the number one thing should be regulation. They'll say regulatory. Governments will shut it down. Right? Regulatory authorities are not sure what we can do. Right? Everyone's monitoring OSE press releases, SUC press releases, very, very diligently. Right? This idea of providing a clear and transparent regulatory framework for economic growth in Canada goes beyond theoretical. Okay? For example, the Ethereum foundation is located in Switzerland. All right. But yet it was actually founded by Anthony like right down the street on ... King. Right? So that's like literally in our back yard. I can't think of a more clear example of business, potentially, or capital or people immediately relocating somewhere else for a more clear and transparent regulatory framework.

Anthony:         There were reasons why we set up and moved things to Switzerland. At the time it was 2014 and you could work with, very easily, with the different cantons, the different provinces in Switzerland. You can work directly with the governments there and you can provide a business plan to them and they'll accept it. You can do it very quickly with them and it was very simple for us to do. We actually also got approved pretty much as a currency in Switzerland. That made it easier for us as the taxes didn't need to be paid on the money that was raised when we raised capital through that. Things like that is stuff that countries around the world are setting themselves up for. They're saying, "We have the potential here to be a dominant player, to be embracing these technologies, to encouraging entrepreneurs, to encourage startups." That's what I think Canada should be doing. In my very early on I did a lot of community building. A lot of setting up organizations to help promote these digital currencies, promote cryptocurrencies, promote decentralized technologies. I think took a few years to do more business stuff over the last few years. Now I'm going to start shifting back again into doing more of that ambassador role. Doing more of that. Really ensuring that what Canada does here is going to ensure that we are going to be leaders in these new sectors that will emerge. To ensure that we're going to have new jobs that will emerge from these sectors. I'm going to start kind of shifting more into that focus again. That's something I'm excited to be doing but we can definitely be embracing it. We can be ensuring that the regulators are properly informed and educated. That's the biggest thing is that probably like a lot of you in here you don't know how to grasp it or handle it or really know what it is and what you can do. It can be quite confusing but it's up to people like us and it's up to other in the community to be going and making sure they're properly educated and understanding the potential we do have to be global leaders in something that will be more larger than the internet.

Sunny:             I'd just like to double down on that is that when Anthony talks about being a global leader, so, five years ago when I started my company I was actually living in India at that time and I was missing these meet ups that this guy named Anthony was hosting in Toronto. Because I wasn't here I actually saw what he was doing and started the meet ups in India that have now grown to become the largest meet ups in India. And through that I met my co-founders and we started our company. When we think about Canada and this whole Blockchain thing being on the map, with respect to Canada, I don't want to big him up too much, but this guy to the right of me singlehandedly put Blockchain on the map. Not only did he have an impact in Canada he also had an impact on guys like me who started companies in India. Give him a big round of applause.

Audience:       Applause

Ian:                  Thank you. Education. I think that's key. We took the fact that we're one of the most educated communities in the world and we spend lots of time and energy helping our kids, and our young people get educated or re-educated, depending on the circumstances. We've got some experts up here. Who in the audience has a question and wants to get a little more educated. Yes, Sir.

Audience:       On that note, just moving further towards the government side, how do you see the inherent conflict of interest playing out over time from the cryptocurrency side and what governments need to do on their end with taxes and spending and some form of control over that system. We're talking about essentially removing central banks from the equation if you look far enough out. So, how do you see that playing out?

Ian:                  There's a tough question. Who wants to take that on?

Anthony:         Who wants to take that? Do you want me to take it?

Ian:                  Troy?

Troy:               That question comes up a lot. I think, first off, it's going to happen slowly. Right? It's almost like we're jumping to the end of the experiment. 20 years, 50 years, 100 years in the future when the entire economy is Bitcoin and I think that's highly speculative to think that way, in terms of what happens if this or that. Right? It's going to happen slowly over time, if it does happen, (a) and (b) if it does actually slowly grow to become a global reserve currency, it got there because that's the way it should happen. It's because globally it scaled and you had millions and millions of people all around the world using this very disruptive important technology, right? And they trust it, right? Andreas Antonopoulos is the leading speaker in this space. He always talks about this idea of Bitcoin costly being attacked. Then it comes back stronger. Right? So if in fact Bitcoin does become this major reserve currency replacing all the central banks it's because that's exactly the way things should have proved out. Play out, in my opinion. It's a free market based approach to currency.

Ian:                  Any reflections on that?

Anthony:         I just think this is creating a number of tools that are going to enable a lot more freedom. They're going to enable a lot more ways, we'll look and say, "What's going to happen?" Usually that's fear based. It's like, "How are possibly going to deal with this things?" Well, the problems will get solved. Better ways will emerge. These technologies will consistently help improve our lives. They will liberate us from certain things. They'll provide more freedom in many different areas. That's really the important stuff that I can focus to. All the benefits that are going to come from these things and over time we'll figure out ways to solve these problems. Problems of saying democracy right now is pretty much 51% of the people saying and being able to tell 49% of the people what to do. It's pretty much what it is. And is that the best system? There's a lot of fraud that occurs in voting systems around the world and maybe that's a tool that this technology can provide, through mathematics and through better ways of transparency, to ensure that that stuff doesn't happen. There's a lot of benefits that are going to come out and will emerge as we slowly change the system into a more appealing system that will be better for more people. Because right now the system isn't great. It's the best that what we have right now. These tools and these new systems with consensus based transparency systems and decentralized systems and permissionist systems will lead to better value. Will lead to better benefits for us and for people that don't have even similar systems to what we have right now. Those billions around the world are really going to start seeing benefits and they'll start be added to the global economies and that's where I tend to focus. Rather than going, "How are possibly going to deal with this stuff?" Well, with taxes, how will it be collect in the future? Things are going to maintain the way they are for quite a while. But slowly, I think gradually, it's going to start improving and actually will lead to a lot of benefits.

Sunny:             Ben Bernanke was just in town a couple of weeks ago. He was the man who printed all the money in the US and he was literally hired by one of the biggest Blockchain companies to come to Toronto and speak about the future of this technology. My point being is, and the central banker of India, the former central banker, Raghuram Rajan, is an electrical engineer. He was the chief economist at the IMF and he's been asked about Bitcoin and he said he believes that some sort of technology like this will be at play in the future in the India. So, my point is that I find when you pit these types of technologies up against an institution, these kind of confusions come up. But when you pit it up against an individual, when you actually sit with Ben Bernanke or Raghuram Rajan or an individual that works in a bank, and you explain what this, I've never had anyone be able to articulate why this shouldn't happen.

Anthony:         It's interesting that you say that. I'm reminded of a quote by Milton Friedman who in 1999 said, "I think the internet is going to be one of the major forces reducing the role of government." and then he went on to say, "The one thing that's missing is yet to be developed is a reliable e-cash." And this is 1999. This is 9 years before the creation of the Blockchain ...

Troy:               And that's because back then anything electronic could be duplicated. And that's what was solved and that's why this stuff can start taking off.

Ian:                  Right. So now we're moving to the internet of value. The economists have got this concept for a long time. I guess what I'm concerned about, and maybe you guys can reflect upon this, and then we can take one more question from the audience, is disruption has happened in a lot of different sectors, both on an industrial level and on a digital level. We've got a fairly established, and perhaps a bit clunky, legal process to deal with, corporations that fail or businesses that fail and get disrupted, and we kind of deal with it. But when governments get disrupted, and we've seen what happened in the airSpring and others, it's quite often kind of nasty. You guys are all optimistic and I think that's really important but how do we address the concerns around disruption that's going to happen, especially if fiat currencies are going to be impacted, and ways in which elections take place in democracies? I know that's a hard question but, Anthony, how do you answer that question?

Anthony:         Can you say the first part of that again?

Ian:                  How do you deal with disruption that's going to impact on a governmental level?

Anthony:         So, you said on the fiat side of things. So, this stuff is coming and it's not going to be able to be shut down. These are decentralized technologies that live on their own, that are going to come, and unlike things with even the internet or things that are more controlled, this is actually going to lead to some really interesting things and a lot of great things and a lot of scary things are going to come from it. Right now we're testing things like Bitcoin so we're starting to see how are people bringing this type of thing. It's been around since 2008. It's a long time already. So we're seeing, gradually, how people start using this. How it's growing and because of it's amazing values and equalities I think it's just going to consistently be going. I don't know how governments are going to actually, you know, maybe when it starts getting more valuable, more important, but they're also scared to ensure that they're not stifling innovation. That's a big thing and it's that balance of the two things, of how do we make sure that this isn't disrupting the whole way things are working, but at the same time we can't be shutting this down because people are going to go elsewhere. We do live in a global economy and people will be going to, we see a lot of stuff happening in Japan. We see stuff happening in Korea. A lot of great things in Hong Kong. Singapore. Guys that when China says "We're shutting this down. We're going to ban it." it's just going to happen elsewhere and the other guy's going to take advantage of it. They have to be very careful in how they are dealing with this. It is a fine line that needs to be balanced because there are definitely tons of great things that will come out. And definitely, yeah, there will be some scary things and some things that they have to be concerned about but hopefully they don't let that stop them from really embracing bring this forward.

Sunny:             I was just going to say, I actually think it's really cool, or sometimes really interesting, to say things like it's going to disrupt government but I actually don't think that's going to be the case. I actually think it's just going to exist in parallel. Just like email has not replaced the post office. In fact I think that this technology, if anything, will actually help keep governments and banks more honest. Because if you keep printing money the price of Bitcoin will keep going up.

Alejandro:       I'll just add really quick that with any innovation you're always going to have foolish actors that will do harm if they get a hold of the technology and you'll have good actors that improve society and the benefits of society. As far as the future of fiat, in regards to crypto, I think we're still thinking, within the context of fiat as a legal tender, but it's no different than how you have a rewards systems with your credit card company. That's some form of currency that you get to use within that little system and then you use fiat within a certain system and you use the credit card within your certain systems. It's a method of payment. If I had a crystal ball I would say in the future, yeah, you're going to see an emergence of more tokens. There's going to be an abundance of tokens and those that subsist will be based on the utility value that you can get out of that token. There could be a token that is used for supply ... payments. And there might be a token that is used for paying taxes. Coincidentally, if you look back at the history of money, as Sunny said, in the 1800's there was thousands of bank notes in circulation in the US, right. There wasn't a single one that people used. In some ways we're regressing towards that environment by having this plethora of tokens but I think there's going to be a process of elimination by utility of the token.

Ian:                  Right. There's something like two thousand cryptocurrencies out there today and there'll probably be a lot more in the future but perhaps a winnowing down to the ones people see of real value. We have time for one more question. Going to get one from towards the back there. That gentleman right there.

Audience:       I'll just speak louder. It's okay. To your point there, the existence and emergence of a lot of tokens, do you see securities pairing out to ... ... Do you see those tokens being posted one or two dominant platforms like Ethereum? Or do you see many platforms?

Alejandro:       Well, that's a better question for Anthony.

Anthony:         Right now I think Ethereum is the dominant platform that people are using because you can very rapidly and very easily deploy tokens on top of Ethereum without having to create your own back end infrastructures. But I think there will be more platforms that will emerge. I don't know if Ethereum will be the dominant one down the road. Nobody does. I think competition's always great and we do see, I know a project that's coming out that's using Stellar as the backend. I know Omni's still got some stuff going on but definitely right now it's all Ethereum. It's the dominant force. It's so much simpler than creating all the back end infrastructures you would need to do. It's already baked into Ethereum. You're kind of riding the rails of the Ethereum network when you do these launches. It's very simple to whip up tokens and that seems to be what everybody's using right now.

Troy:               I think also the question was liquidity between Blockchains. So this goes back to my earlier point about protocol layer, tokens that we like to invest in. There's this ... called cross gene atomic swaps where a number of very innovative leaders, technology leaders, in the Blockchain space are basically trying to build up this technology that allow tokens to be traded Blockchain to Blockchain without an exchange. That project, or projects, are sort of being actively researched right now. That would effectively create true token liquidity because you can immediately move from token to token to token to token. There's an active liquid price globally without going through a central exchange. That's an example of where Blockchain is going, ideally, in the future. Right now it's still in the development stages but we're very excited about it.

Sunny:             I just want to say one last thing. For people who are asking about government, and whatnot, on December 8 I'm flying the 38th director of the US Mint to Toronto along with 30 other prolific people. We're going to do an event with Gowling so if you're really interested in hearing, not from us, but from people who have been in the system, yeah, December 8. And if anyone wants to take me up on the Bitcoin proposition, my email's sunny@unocoin.com.

Ian:                  Excellent. So, any final sort of reflections on ... and the space before we wrap it up?

Anthony:         One thing that I've tried to do in the industry is not to pick winners and losers right now. I think that it's way too early, still, and I think, too, the business I do right now is creating wallets for all the different cryptocurrencies. I realize when I first got into Bitcoin, and soon after when we did Ethereum, it's not all about Bitcoin. Then I realized after leaving Ethereum in 2015 it's not all about Ethereum. It's a wide eco system out there so I've always tried to support the entire eco system and try to bring people together. That's why we create the wallets, the interface, that kind of, enables people to manage these digital assets and to move digital assets. Taking more of a holistic approach to the entire eco system, rather than banking on one or two technologies, might be a smart play and move to do. Knowing that we are so early on right now, and things are going to be changing rapidly, kind of not just focus on one particular thing but really spread it around in a time like this where things are still emerging.

Sunny:             I would just say don't rely on experts. Don't rely on reporters. Just do your own research. Go on Google. Go to these meet ups. Go to these events. Really try to learn this stuff because if this passes you by, and next year we're sitting here and Bitcoin and Ethereum are 10x or 100x, you're going to regret it. So just read and if you don't like it then don't mess in it but don't not read.

Alejandro:       I would echo that. Just get involved if you have an interest in the technology. There is many, many projects out there like Sweetbridge that have ambitious goals and we cannot do it alone. We invite people with certain expertise, legal expertise, financial expertise to come join us and help us shape that vision. There is many projects like that so get involved, participate and that's how you are going to learn.

Tory:               Sure. I would end it with everyone sort of has their light bulb moment, right? The quoted time that a person first hears about Blockchain, or Bitcoin, and them actually buying it is generally two years, is a number I've heard quoted by a number of digital currency experts. They wish they'd gotten in earlier. I would just recommend really, really understand it. Do a lot of reading and, ironically enough, one of the best sources that I use is actually Reddit. I use Reddit. Then you can go to coinmartcap.com and you can look at the largest currencies. I would just add the largest currencies and join them with subreddits and basically what you have is the crowd source news and opinions of that specific community at any given time. As you start reading through those articles you start picking up a lot of the technical knowledge. You start getting an understanding of what makes this Blockchain different and you can begin to understand a little bit of the eco system. That's where I get all my information.

Anthony:         Can I just say, at the same time, be very cautious with Reddit because there's a lot of trolls and a lot of shills. It's very dangerous. I've stopped reading Reddit a long time ago. You can really get lost in a lot of misinformation as well on there with a lot of comments. So please be also very cautious with what you're seeing there and anywhere else in general.

Ian:                  That's great. But you know what? We could go on for another half an hour, sure, and it's unfortunate that we have to wrap it up. I just want to thank you folks for being very generous with your time. Being very generous with your ideas and very collaborative with our audience. Thank you very much.

To view Part one and two click here

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Press Releases from this Firm
Recent Content from this Firm
By Max Muñoz, Andrew Locatelli
By Mark Josselyn
By John Cooper, Ravi Randhawa, Kieran Laird
By Kieran Laird
By John Cooper
By Samuel Beighton
By Ian Weatherall, Turon Miah, Louise Kellaway
By Gowling WLG
By Denis Silva, Tara Amiri-Khaledi
By Matt Hervey
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions