At the UNLOCK Blockchain forum www.unlock-bc.com held in Dubai between January 14th and 15th 2018, UNLOCK interviewed speakers and attendees to see what Blockchain topics will be on the table in 2018. Most of the responses centered around the fact that today Blockchain is maturing and the interest will now focus on interoperability, regulations, less but more legitimate ICOs, as well as actual implementations instead of just pilots and proof of concepts. Moreover a lot is happening in the MENA region when it comes to Blockchain be it in Dubai, UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait or Oman.
Some even went beyond Blockchain to talk about new technologies that have decentralization at its core but not necessarily the issues that plague Blockchain today.
Interoperability and Real Use cases
Most of the respondents interviewed at UNLOCK Blockchain forum in Dubai felt that 2018 will see more use cases and interoperability between Blockchain platforms. Projects such as Cosmos, Pokitdot, Interledger, and overledger are addressing interoperability.
Julio Faura, Head of Innovation R&D Division Santander Bank, Chairman Enterprise Ethereum Alliance believes, “2018 should be the year were we real applications as Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum and Qurom have become more pervasive, in terms of privacy and scalability. We will see more implementations in low volume, high value transactions, as the technology is still not ready to replace legacy systems.”
Leanne Kemp, Founder of Everledger, “We think 2018 will start to see interoperability in its truest form; however, I believe the next challenge will be integrating sensorial data, man and machines. Personally I am interested in going beyond the construct of cryptography to homomorphic cryptography.”
Dr. Paolo Tasca, Founder and Executive Director of Center for Blockchain Technologies UCL London, believes that, “Interoperability of current Blockchain systems will be the main discussion points in 2018. These Blockchain platforms need to talk to each other and we are already seeing projects such as Cosmos, Pokitdot, Interledger, Overledger that are addressing this issue.
Veronica Lange, head of innovation at UBS Bank believes that we will move from proof of Concept to new business models and Blockchain projects that are interoperable with legacy system.
As for James Wallis Vice President Markets and Engagement Blockchain at IBM, “2016 and 2017 were crucial years for Blockchain proof of concepts, and early pilots, I call it the years of Blockchain tourism. I see 2018 as the year of production and a pivotal year for Blockchain.”
Mohammed AlSehli, Founder and CEO of ArabianChain technology is one of the first Blockchain entrepreneurs in the region. He states, “Everyone in the region is doing something with the Blockchain and on a global scale the issues of scalability, speed of transactions, and energy waste will all be at the center of discussion. Moreover interoperability will also take center stage because when every Blockchain is linked we can then say that Blockchain is the new internet.”
Vincent Wang, Chief Innovation Officer, China Wanxiang Holdings, claims, “The main issue will be interoperability and economic value creation, as well as discussion on ICO regulations. We will see more economic value because of interoperability.”
Andrea Tinianow, director of Global Delaware and Founding Director of Delaware Blockchain Initiative also believes we will see more real case implementation in Dubai and across the world, as well as more coins for real cases.
The year of ICOs and Regulation
Dr. Abdulla Kablan, Blockchain Advisor for Malta Government and Fintech expert, “ 2018 will be the year when the gap between theory and implementation is bridged and many companies will move towards use cases. We will also see a lot of regulations as the one that is being initiated in Malta.”
Maksim Izmaylov, CEO, Founder of Winding tree, “Education is still a main challenge we will have to continue to put effort into explaining what Blockchain can do as an underlying technology.”
Marc Taverner, Vice President Sales Bitfury group, “2018 will build on what we saw in 2017. 2017 was the year of ICOs raking in more than $3 billion and creating a huge opportunity for innovation, we hope in 2018 innovation continues and more deployment occurs in governments.”
Ismail Malik, Founder, CEO of Blockchain Labs believes that “2018 will witness the battle between decentralized exchanges and centralized regulated exchanges such as Coinbase. There will be a faceoff between regulators and peer to peer community.”
Juan Llanos, Fintech and RegTech Lead, Consensys, “ in 2017 we saw an explosion of new business models raising funds through ICOs and Token offerings, I believe this will continue but now risk management and how to manage new products and technology will come into play. We will also see more consolidation and standard setting as well as discussions on interoperability.”
Natalia Brzozowska, Marketing Manager Espeo Software, “it is very hard to predict what will happen in this volatile environment however I believe that in 2018, ICOs that were not good will fall and only those will real use cases will survive because people are more savvy. We will also see greater adoption within real-estate industry, pharmaceutical sector and government.”
Ali Nazem, Vice President Business Development, Shocard, “Banks and financial sector are still in evolutionary process gathering information and reaching a comfort level and this is happening now, so we will see more pilots in the financial sector. Governments need to create encouraging regulation as this technology moves forward.”
Manuel Rensink, Partner Lykke, believes, “There should be more government driven regulation as well as self regulating in terms of know your customer as this boom continues, and I believe that state currencies need to be digitized as other crypto-currencies deflate.”
Alexander Kozlov, Founder CEO of Dogezer, believes we will see “more evolved solutions in the upcoming years, with maybe new technologies and not necessarily Blockchain but where we will witness the ideology of decentralization grow and not die out.”
Finally Thomas Tybon, Growth Officer Repux, “We will see more decentralization and power given to individuals and businesses just like the internet empowered people. Of course there will be failures like with all change but it will not be the bubble we saw with .com.”