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Royal Docks: How the London Blockchain Conference is focused on finding practical applications as the technology matures

Conference director Alex Stein and sponsor Richard Baker of Tokenovate talk innovation and efficiency

Tokenovate’s Richard Baker will be speaking at the conference

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Blockchain is one of those technologies that can be daunting in its vastness.

First conceived in the early 1990s, not much happened until 2009, when Bitcoin arrived and its profile rose as the system underpinning that and other cryptocurrencies.

Then there was the mostly art-focused explosion and crash of the non-fungible tokens or NFT market.  

But quietly in the background – while the hype has raged – bright minds have been carefully considering what blockchain might most functionally and profitably be used for now and in the future.

What applications does an immutable, secure ledger for practically any kind of data, protected by encryption and distributed across a network of computers, actually have? 

It’s that question which lies at the heart of the forthcoming London Blockchain Conference – a gathering of experts, companies and individuals.

Set to be held at Excel from May 21-23, 2024, the event expects to attract more than 5,000 delegates in person who will be able to listen to more than 150 speakers and dozens of cutting-edge exhibitors working in the sector.

“Its purpose is to move the needle forward on enterprises and governments adopting blockchain technology,” said Alex Stein, conference director.

“What we want to do is cut through a lot of the conversations, which tend to be about cryptocurrencies.

“The event is about how useful the technology can be and its impact, looking holistically across different industries and government – we want to bring everyone together to move those discussions forward and educate people. 

“We’ve held conferences around the world on this topic but last year we made the decision to find a home in London.

“It makes sense because it’s a hub for fintech, finance and regulation, all of which are very important for the technology. 

“That’s why we’ve based it here and renamed it the London Blockchain conference.

“We want it to be the main event for businesses in Europe, and eventually globally, which will show people the practical applications of the technology – people who want to get together and talk about problems and solutions to them.

“This is the event for people with questions about blockchain to find answers – perhaps you’re the person who has been tasked with looking into a solution for your company or you’re a CEO or founder who would like to know more.

“The event is an amazing opportunity to be at the forefront of the technology and to meet people from startups, scaleups, investors and big companies.”

London Blockchain Conference director Alex Stein

One of those individuals will be Richard Baker, founder and CEO at conference sponsor Tokenovate.

He’s an electronics and telecommunications engineer by background and a self confessed lover of low-level engineering – good products and good systems, as he puts it.

“As a technologist, I always look at things through that lens,” said Richard.

“As an exhibitor of applications on blockchain I think the conference is at the heart of what London has always been really excellent at – curating the many faces of financial service offerings both nationally and internationally. 

“Tokenovate specialises in derivative trading  – we’ve built the next generation life cycle engine. 

“It’s a platform for how derivatives are getting tokenised, expressed as smart contracts and executing their life-cycle events on a blockchain. 

“There is no doubt in my mind of the journey that’s under way in financial services – not just in London, but globally.

“We’re seeing something in the order of $16trillion of assets expected to be tokenised in the next five to 10 years – land, property, commercial real estate, bonds and more. 

“This is probably one of the most exciting financial services transformations we have seen in 40 years – a real overhaul – and the economics that go with it as we adopt this new way of expressing value and building products.

“This conference touches on a lot of those really important characteristics.    

“In my humble opinion, blockchain has been one of the slowest technologies to come to market.

“It’s been more than 15 years and there has been a lot of misdirection with the journey of cryptocurrencies – but now we’re seeing businesses and organisations around the world look at it as an infrastructure technology, really focusing on its utility value.

“That’s what this conference is about.”

Both Alex and Richard agree that the potential for the technology is huge, making discussion of its implications and regulation essential.

“It’s fantastic to have people like Richard at the forefront to push the boundaries of what this technology can do,” said Alex.

“There are so many sectors that can be touched by blockchain, such as supply chains and healthcare as well as local and national government.

“There are so many opportunities and we want people to be able to see how blockchain can be a part of their digital transformation.

The conference is taking place at Excel in Royal Docks

“The point of the technology is to make things quicker, cheaper and better. What blockchain gives you in terms of its scalability, speed and stability will eventually change the world.

“It will become the plumbing that everyone expects to be in place and relies on to do business. In 10 years we’ll talk about it in less depth because it will be there.”

Richard added: “As a technologist, I often think in terms of 100 years.

“We’re only 30 or 40 years into a meaningful part of the digital age.

“Built into Tim Berners- Lee’s World Wide Web protocol is the fact that the internet was conceived as a medium of exchange for data but not money.

“There has always been a gap for the right financial system to be plugged in and that’s part of the journey we’re on in society. 

“Crypto has been a use case for the technology – it’s animated how smart contracts work, tokenising things and what a modern marketplace could look like and it’s certainly accelerated G20 regulators looking at blockchain and asking how it will apply to traditional instruments.

“I also echo what Alex says, that as a society we’re increasingly looking for provenance.

“In food, for example, using blockchain as an immutable, time-stamped record keeper, you could know when something was pulled out of the ground, when it was shipped, what the weather conditions were like and who the farmer was.

“I’m sorry to say this but we do live in a world where trust is being increasingly re-sought.

“We have a lot of disinformation and immutable record keeping is one mechanism we can use to help us re-establish that trust. I think it has an important role to play.”

The conference is pitched at all levels with the aim of including as many organisations as possible, so there’s very much a place for those whose understanding of the technology is rudimentary.

“On day one in the morning, we host a session called Blockchain 101,” said Alex. “We also have a session on what a smart contract is and so on.

“We’re located two minutes and 57 seconds from Canary Wharf or 14 minutes from Tottenham Court Road – there’s a whole expo floor and so much content and networking to get involved with.

“I just love bringing people together, out of the office, for face-to-face conversations.

“There will also be a fantastic, informal drinks reception on the first night, which will be really lively. 

“Having lived through the pandemic, when conferences were digital, it’s great to be hosting live events.

“Before the Elizabeth Line was in place, Excel used to feel a little out of the way but now it’s so well connected to the rest of London.

“Our event will take place in its dedicated conference centre, which is perfect for the kind of programme we’re hosting – although we’re certainly looking to the future and will perhaps one day occupy one of its halls.”

Anyone interested in exhibiting at the London Blockchain Conference or participating in its event can find full listings and information online.

Excel is easily reached from Canary Wharf in less than three minutes via the Elizabeth Line

WHAT’S ON

There’s a wealth of potential topics, but what can delegates expect from the event at Excel in May?

“We’ve got seven content-led tracks across three stages, our visionary stage, our big keynote stage and our inside stage – meant for panel-led discussions,” said Alex. 

“There’s also our spotlight stage out on the exhibition floor, so there’s great variation in what’s on offer.

“We’ll have session on the regulatory side of things, blockchain and AI plus blockchain and the Internet Of Things.

“We’ll be looking at business cases and opportunities to innovate in all of these areas.”

In addition to Richard, confirmed speakers include representatives from Channel 4,  nChain, Business Kitz, Ayre Ventures, BSV Blockchain, Project Babbage, Gate2Chain and Family Office Venture Capital.

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key details

The London Blockchain Conference is set to take place at Excel in Royal Docks over three days from May 21-23, 2024.

Excel is easily accessed via Custom House station on the Elizabeth Line (less than three minutes from Canary Wharf) or Prince Regent DLR.

Networking tickets for the event cost £49, while three-day delegate passes are £399. VIP access costs £799.

Group discounts are available for those buying three or more conference passes.

Find out more about the London Blockchain Conference here

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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