Isle of Man: Reflections From Blockchain Live 2018
Last Updated: 15 October 2018

Katherine Johnson and Paul Worsnop attended the Blockchain Live conference in London at the end of September. The conference is Europe's largest dedicated gathering of blockchain pioneers, technology trailblazers and blockchain newcomers.

Katherine and Paul reflect on their time at the conference, highlighting three key takeaways and wider themes of the effects of blockchain on professional services industries.

Fintech

Fintech had its own stage and there was discussion throughout the day on how the financial services industry could use blockchain technology to ease transactions, improve record keeping and simplify payment processing. 

We wait with interest to see what regulation the UK will introduce in this area where Appleby jurisdictions have been paving the way, with the Isle of Man having brought cryptocurrencies within the remit of AML/CFT obligations back in in 2015; Jersey issuing regulatory guidance on ICOs earlier this year; and Bermuda's Digital Asset Act 2018 having come into force on 10 September.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies of course featured widely on the agenda, with the conference held shortly after the publication of a report of a UK Treasury committee report into the need to regulate the "Wild West" crypto-asset market. The general consensus from speakers seemed to be that regulation is not just necessary but will also be beneficial to the industry. Currently a US case from the 1940s is widely relied upon to determine whether a crypto token is a security, but it is acknowledged that existing classifications and regulation need updating to address new technologies. Crypto-assets or tokens do not fit neatly into one box, and different jurisdictions will take different views so caution must always be exercised when offering a token into another jurisdiction.

Smart contracts

Though not the headline topic of many sessions, smart contracts featured heavily throughout the day with a session by the creator of smart contracts, Nick Szabo, and separate discussions on the opportunities for model smart contracts to be adopted within specific industries (such as construction) to replace standard form contracts and automate delivery and settlement.

Wider themes

The tension between the immutable nature of blockchain technology and rights over person data, such as the right to rectification and the right to be forgotten enshrined in GDPR, came up again and again but, as yet, there is no clear answer to this conflict.

Jersey also featured prominently on the Agenda with former Appleby Associate, Tom Fothergill, now Lead Policy Advisor for Banking & Corporate at the States of Jersey, delivery a session on Jersey's proposals to introduce an electronic ID system for its citizens.

Technological innovation is transforming businesses, markets and our everyday life. Appleby's multi-disciplinary global technology and innovation group comprises experts from each of our 10 offices to help businesses meet the new challenges and support clients across a broad range of emerging technologies. To learn more about our expertise in this area, visit our Technology & Innovation page.

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