Keynote 2015: FinTech Conference Focuses on Public Ledgers and the Blockchain

Bitcoin Magazine
Keynote 2015: FinTech Conference Focuses on Public Ledgers and the Blockchain
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Preceding this weekend’s Coin Congress in San Francisco, the inaugural Keynote 2015 took place Monday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, focusing on practical applications of the blockchain as an easily implementable and scalable solution to a number of problems that extend far beyond digital payments.

With the help of an experienced and passionate audience who continued conversations past the end of any specific lecture, Keynote 2015 was able to effectively educate a wide variety of developers and innovators about the seemingly endless list of use cases for public ledgers.

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Speakers included Marc van der Chijs, managing partner at CrossPacific Capital, Brennen Byrne, CEO of Clef, and Pete Rizzo, U.S. editor at Coindesk. Partners included Blockchain, Netki, and Ledger, among others.

The same team that runs the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami every January managed Keynote 2015.

While the majority of lectures centered on online payment infrastructures, lectures led by Crowdfunder CEO Chance Barnett and FloQast co-founder and CEO Michael Whitmore focused on the blockchain applications for crowdfunding platforms and accounting software, respectively.

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A few segments in particular drew muted criticism from the crowd. Silvio Tavares, CEO of The CardLinux Association, blamed credit card fraud on the Internet’s lack of security protocol rather than the credit cards themselves, saying, “Credit cards are secure. It’s the Internet that’s not secure.”

In addition, he attacked an often-cited belief that credit card fees are exorbitantly expensive for businesses, citing an article posted online on BloombergBusiness.

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A panel of the Token executive team also drew criticism after concluding that Bitcoin isn’t ready to innovate the banking industry as key top-level individuals aren’t excited about either Bitcoin or the underlying blockchain technology.

It was almost fitting that Keynote 2015 was moved to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, a 1923 Beaux Arts-inspired grand dame. With hand-painted frescoes and restored crown moldings, it seemed like the perfect venue to discuss a technology aimed to innovate archaic payment, accounting, security and database infrastructures. Because, after all, the real magic happens when you combine something old and something new.

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Bitcoin Considered a ‘Traditional Currency’ by Australian Senate Committee
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The inquiry of the Australian Senate committee may overrule the decision of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which classified bitcoin as an intangible/foreign asset that falls under the coverage of Goods and Services Tax.

The proposal submitted by the Australian government will have bitcoin considered as a traditional currency, and thus will nullify many of the regulations or legal “restrictions” set to be applied on bitcoin.

“The opportunities for trade, investment, high salaries and world-leading skills are far more important [than any potential loss of revenue], and I urge the states to work with the Commonwealth to make what amounts to simple change,” Labor Senator Sam Dastyari told the Australian Financial Review.

Dastyari said that such leniency on the currency will help many bitcoin- or other digital currency-based entrepreneurs and startups in the nation to continue their operations without any interruptions or restrictions.

“Without a doubt, the main benefit will be the confidence and certainty that removing a GST will provide to our own digital entrepreneurs, and the foreign businesses who want to set up here,” Dastyari added. “The Treasury ministers need to work with the states to make the changes necessary to bring our legislation into the 21st century.”

The proposal of the Australian Senate Committee will be taken up for vote this week, and will conclude the tax-free status of bitcoin in Australia once and for all.

The ruling from the Senate Economics References Committee into digital currency, predicted to be considered this week as well, will bring Australia in line with the United Kingdom in terms of its treatment on bitcoin.

 

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UK Prime Minister Cameron Praises the Innovate Finance Manifesto Despite Views on Encryption
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Innovate Finance, an independent membership-based industry organization that aims to advance Great Britain’s standing as a leader in financial technology (FinTech) innovation both domestically and abroad, has released its new manifesto: Innovate Finance Manifesto: 2020.

“Our vision for 2020 is for the U.K. to be the most investment-friendly environment for FinTech globally, attracting $4 billion of venture investment and $4 billion of institutional investment in corporate venture funds, accelerators and innovation programs,” states the manifesto. “Our vision for 2020 is for the U.K. to be the premier location for at least 25 global FinTech leaders, whether by IPO, global market share or by valuation.”

The manifesto mentions the need for effective regulation, a proactive policy environment and a commitment to greater financial inclusion, and emphasizes that the U.K. must produce more graduates in technical disciplines and create a deep pool of mathematical and scientific expertise. In partnership with Open University, Innovate Finance developed the world’s first introduction course to FinTech.

The coming wave of graduates in technical disciplines related to FinTech won’t be unemployed.

“Increasing investment in U.K. FinTech and developing an increasing number of global leading companies will help create an additional 100,000 jobs in U.K. FinTech,” states the manifesto.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on a trade mission to southeast Asia with FinTech specialists from across Great Britain, enthusiastically praised the manifesto.

“This government wants the U.K. to be the leading FinTech center in the world. That’s why, at the Summer Budget, we appointed a special envoy for this fast growing sector,” said Cameron. “I’m pleased that Innovate Finance’s manifesto has set such ambitious goals, including the creation of 100,000 jobs. This will ensure we are a world leader in the development of financial services technologies.”

The FinTech special envoy mentioned by Cameron is Eileen Burbridge, a partner at Passion Capital, a London early-stage technology investment fund, dubbed the “Queen of British VCs” by Fortune.

The manifesto doesn’t mention Bitcoin and blockchain-based digital currencies explicitly. However, Great Britain is on its way to becoming a global hub for bitcoin and other digital currencies, with both the government and Bank of England having made recent moves designed to stimulate the development of digital FinTech.

Cameron’s government has launched a new research initiative that brings together the Research Councils, Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult with industry in order to address the research opportunities and challenges for digital currency technology, and will increase research funding in this area by £10 million ($14.6 million USD) to support this.

Cameron expressed very different views on cryptography – the technology that Bitcoin is built upon – and recently said that his government intends to ban strong encryption. Renowned industry expert Bruce Schneier noted that the proposed ban would be a disaster for the U.K. technology leadership and economy.

“When the U.S. tried to ban strong cryptography in the 1990s, hundreds of foreign companies sprang up to fill the gap in what the market demanded,” said Schneier. “Today, security is vitally important in everything we do online, and this law would put U.K. businesses and citizens under an enormous disadvantage.”

It appears that perhaps Cameron’s government hasn’t realized – yet – that technological freedom and technological leadership are two sides of the same coin, and eliminating one would destroy the other.

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