Report on NEMODE Crypto Currencies Workshops. April 2016

Glenn Parry (University of the West of England)

Richard Adams (University of the West of England)

Report

Workshop 1

Background

In association with Oxford Technology Media & Finance Network, Autumn Networking Event 2015

Date: Monday 5th October 2015 6.00pm to 9.00pm

Venue: The Maths Institute, Oxford University

Theme: Cryptocurrencies Evil Empire or Digital Saviour?

What is a cryptocurrency? How does it work? Why is it important and why is it something that both excites online privacy activists and terrifies governments?

The rapid growth of crypto-currencies and emergence of blockchain technologies creates a series of challenges as well as opportunities for business including reduced costs for businesses and consumers and immediacy of transaction as well as opportunities for new business models. However, there are also a number of significant challenges too, such as volatility and the absence of a central regulating authority. Although the three differ in subtle ways, the terms crypto-, virtual and digital-currency have come to be used interchangeably and the currency brand ‘BitCoin’ synonymously represents a domain of upwards of 100 such currencies. The mystery surrounding the origins of Bitcoin are a legend in themselves. The algorithm created by the shadowy figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto has created both a digital myth and a new distributed transactional ecosystem that threatens to be truly disruptive.

Will Bitcoin and its successors disintermediate the banks and liberate business from the tyrannies of transaction costs, online payment charges and inflation? Or is it the greatest step forward for criminals to launder money? Do cryptocurrencies offer a genuinely safe financial haven for consumers and businesses across the world? Are they a commodity (for investment) or a currency (an aid to transaction)? How can you trust a currency that is not guaranteed by a government or backed by a central bank?

Oxford Technology & Media are delighted in conjunction with NEMODE to welcome a distinguished panel including Dr Vili Lehdonvirta of The Oxford Internet Institute, Robert Kay, CEO of GovCoin Systems, John Edge Managing Partner of Redrose, Danny Barugh of LondonLink Bitcoin brokers and Mark Lamb CEO of CoinFloor, the UK’s leading Bitcoin Exchange.

The panel explored these and other questions relating to the implications of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies for business, how they work and what opportunities they offer in the digital economy.

 

Workshop 2

Background

In association with techUK and Loughborough University

Date: Thursday February 25th, 2016.

Venue: techUK, 10 Bride Street, London EC4A 4AD.

Theme: Blockchain and beyond: the emerging architectures and applications of distributed ledger in financial services.

The purpose of this workshop was to bring together key players and the community of interest to share information, experiences and questions relating to the emerging applications of blockchain technology in financial services. The focus of the workshop was on practical applications of the blockchain as seen from academic and practitioner perspectives.

The workshop consisted of three sessions: a view from practice; a view from research; and, an open discussion, as follows:

From practice

  • Practical applications of permissioned blockchains in the finance industry: Peter Randall, COO SETL and Anthony Culligan, CEO SETL
  • Respondent: Dr Pinar Emirdag, CEO, Complymatic
  • Open discussion: Moderated by Alistair Milne, Professor of Financial Economics, Loughborough University School of Business and Economics

From research

  • Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and Payment Networks: Distributed Transaction Clearing Beyond Blockchains: Julian Williams, Professor of Accounting and Finance, Durham University Business School
  • Respondent: Philip Bond, Visiting Professor, Departments of Engineering Mathematics and Computer Science, Bristol University, and Visiting Professor Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Oxford University
  • Open discussion: Moderated by Alistair Milne, Professor of Financial Economics, Loughborough University School of Business and Economics

Open panel discussion

  • Leda Glyptis (Global Markets Director, Sapient )
  • Alistair Milne (Loughborough University School of Business and Economics)
  • Salome Parulava (Consultant, Consult Hyperion)
  • Peter Randall (COO, SETL)
  • Julian Williams (Durham University Business School)
  • Moderated by Dr Richard Adams, NEMODE Senior Research Fellow, University of the West of England and Surrey University

 

Outputs include:

Video reports of the two workshops. Available for view at:

  1. Oxford: Bitcoin 101: Bitcoin and Blockchain explained
  2. techUK: Blockchain and beyond (i) and Blockchain and beyond (ii)

Future initiatives include:

  1. Special issue of Strategic Change: Briefings in Entrepreneurial Finance, The Future of Money and Further Applications of the Blockchain. First submissions deadline May 1st 2016, anticipated publication date, 2017.
  2. Special session “Blockchain for Good: Distributed Ledger Technologies and the CSR Agenda” at 7th International Conference on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility: CSR in an Age of Digitization. September 14-16, 2016.