Article, Fintech, Report

Blockchain World Conference, Bangkok 2017: Embily Report

From the blockchain world conference website

Recently, Beyond Blocks and iStack Holdings organised a Blockchain world conference here in Bangkok, Thailand at the extravagant Grand Hyatt hotel on the 4th of December 2017. The Embily team made sure to be there, as well as hundreds of other attendees from all over the country and even other parts of the world.

In this article, I will be reporting on my experience and highlights of the day and although it has already passed, check out the conference website as it has a nicely presented list of speakers, panel times and other details. The website is the following link;

So, whether you were there or not, you can now grab a drink, kick back and enjoy this report.

The conference was hosted at Grand Hyatt Hotel, right beside the famous Erawan shrine in the center of Bangkok, Thailand.

A couple of hundred meters walk from the Ratchadamri Skytrain station and right opposite Central World, an insanely large shopping center in Bangkok (formally the biggest shopping mall in Asia), made it an easy place to get to for all the events attendees.

The tickets for the conference were sold in phases, with the first initial Early Bird phase starting off at 250 USD. But that price only lasted a couple of hours as the early bird tickets were soon sold out and Early Bird Phase 2 started, listing the tickets for 350 USD per person. The Embily team was quick enough to grab it at this price!

After the early bird phases were both over, the tickets were then sold for the price of 750 USD per person, up until the event day. And those that weren’t able to buy tickets online or just people passing by were also able to obtain the tickets at the entrance, on the day of the conference.

Registration for the day’s events started at nine in the morning and lasted a couple of hours. Giving attendees time to grab some coffee, morning nommnoms and a chance to mingle a little with the morning crowd before going in through the entrance.

The entrance to the event, inside Grand Hyatt Hotel

The conference was held in the hotel’s grand ballroom, just past the main lobby and waiting room. There was a large wide stage that spanned the width of the ballroom and three sections of chairs with two aisles between them for walking. The attendees were greeted with an extravagant light show and some music as they entered the stage room and found their seats. The first ones in, get the better seats!

The first speaker; Gabriel Yang jumped on stage, just shortly after 10 am to welcome the crowd and say their opening remarks.

The introductions were continued by Helen Disney, CEO, and Founder of Unblocked Events (One of the companies that organised the conference) and the conference’s main host and moderator. Helen Disney made a brief introduction before moving forward to set the tone of the panels for the rest of the day.

The first official panel of the day was: What happens after an ICO: the OMG example.

Three white armchairs were brought swiftly onto the stage by the conference team and Managing Director of OmiseGo; Vansa Chatikavanij and Special Advisor; Thomas Greco, joined by Moderator; Jon Russell, a writer from Techcrunch.

The panel began with a short intro to OmiseGo, talking about their progress from 2015 when it started as a payment gateway company and their plans for the future of their platform.

Vansa mentioned that they were working on a new scaling solution which they called Plasma, saying it was a similar network to Lightning, however, that Plasma and the OMG network were specifically written and coded for one another. Thomas Greco went on in slightly more detail and also mentioned how the OMG network will be crosschained, using proof of stake and worked in the Plasma network.

The OmiseGo team also hinted at having partnerships locked in with big corporates and integration ongoing with 3rd party apps and that they’d make an announcement within one month of the event day.

At the end of each panel, the audience is asked if they would like to ask any questions to anyone on the stage. Here are some of the questions and answers for the ICO OMG panel;

Question: “How does POS (Proof Of Stake) compare to Tangle?”
Answer by Thomas Greco: “I don’t feel what IOTA is doing, is relevant to what we’re doing and moving to proof of stake moves us away from the mining regulations.”

Question: “How is Plasma different from Raiden?”
Answer by Thomas Greco: “Lightning and Raiden are more of a scaling solution for payments, whereas Plasma is scaling for smart contracts.”

A short tea break was held at around 11:15 am for fifteen minutes, allowing the attendees to refuel on some more coffee and other light munchies such as fruits, light pastries and other goodies that the event provided its guests. I believe everyone was happy. At least the Embily team was!

Nicknacks and nomnoms during the break!

The following panel that started around half past eleven was called; How to invest in quality ICO’s.

The speakers for this panel were; Abasa Phillips, Founder of Zilla. Henok (Hen) Tekle, a Cryptocurrency Angel Investor. James Giancotti, CEO & Co-Founder at Oddup and Richard Ma, Founder of Quantstamp. The panel was moderated by Helen Disney.

The panel began with talk of the many different ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and comparing of that to standard, more traditional fundraising. The speakers obviously have had a lot of experience with ICOs, with a few of them having gone through ICOs themselves.

Some of the highlighted advice and tips that we walked away with from that panel were;

“Check for the 4 T’s of an ICO before investing! Timeline, Team, Token and Technology” -Abasa Phillips.

“Scan the game, do your diligence. Good projects are on the protocol level that helps adoption of the tech, they are the ones worth investing in” – Richard Ma.

“The protocol and tokens should be controlled by the public, and check how much supporting staff they have. How many admins and moderators. The more the better, something with like 20+ supporting staff can be a  good sign for the ICO.” – Richard Ma.

“Think about liquidity problems down the line. A lot of prominent exchanges won’t list these tokens, so think about your return before investing.” – Henok Tekle.

“Try not to look at ICOs from USA, UK or China. Watch the market in India, Gibraltar, Japan, and Switzerland.” – James Giancotti and Henok Tekle.

Right after the: How To Invest In Quality ICO’s panel, Helen introduced three new speakers onto the stage for the next panel: Protocols of the future.

The speakers that joined here were; Maxim Postnikov, Chief Evangelist at Universa. Mance Harmon, Co-founder & CEO at Swirlds & Hashgraph. Preethi Kasireddy, a blockchain engineer & researcher and former engineer at Coinbase. And last, but not least Crystal Rose, Co-founder of Sensay.

I’ll have to admit that after the introductions were done, the first half of this entire panel was mostly a sales pitch of Universa, Swirlds and Hashgraph.

I won’t go into what they said about their respective companies, but if you wish to do your own research, their links for their projects can be found here:

Though during that panel, a good question was asked; Are open-blockchains more likely to succeed?

Mance stated that there will always be both the open-source and the closed/permissioned blockchains, as there are trade-offs on both sides.

Rose commented that this is the first time that developers are incentivised to build upon an open blockchain, however, bigger companies and Governments will still want closed and permissioned blockchains around.

Preethi, a former engineer at Coinbase mentioned that a lot of companies keep a closed blockchain for testing and staging purposes.

The speakers of the Future of Protocols panel.

My favourite and one particular thing that made the Embily team laugh was when a member of the audience, Per Lind stood up. Declared he was from IOTA and asked a question, specifically for Mance Harmon.

“I represent IOTA here, why closed? IOTA is open-sourced. We’ve nothing to hide.”

The entire crowd could be heard “OOOOOHing” as we all turned our heads to the stage, excited to hear Mance’s reply.

“It’ll be open for review. We have to take advantage of crisis to move forward. The mainstream market cares about stability and we keep ours closed for the time being to prevent chaos in the market, as it’s currently unstainable. Nothing to do with hiding, it’s about moving the market forward.”

I think Mance handled the question rather well, although I am not sure if the answer was satisfying enough to other members of the audience.

Protocols of the future panel finished around one pm, just in time for lunch! The event had organised a lunch for the masses, on the second floor just above the main hotel lobby. Unfortunately, I am not able to comment on the food, as the Embily team decided on stuffing our bellies in a lovely Chinese cuisine restaurant on the hotel premises. But I am sure everyone was satisfied with what the conference had to offer.
The lunch at the hotel was sponsored by Essentia.One.

With lunch over and everyone refuelled with happy stomachs, the conference presented it’s first Keynote Session of the day; The State of Blockchain in China. Now and the Future. With a speaker that just about everybody knows; Da Hongfei, Founder of NEO.

You can read about the rest of the day, in part 2 of Blockchain World Conference, Bangkok 2017 An Embily report.

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A lover and advocate of all things Tech, Loy has had an exciting time learning about Blockchain and the possibilities it brings for the future.