The BlockShow Americas 2018 conference kicked off Monday, Aug. 20 in Las Vegas. The first panel discussion involved a heated debate between proponents of two opposite views of how — and if — blockchain should be regulated and adopted by institutions around the globe.
BlockShow is a series of fintech and crypto events, usually held in Singapore and Europe; the previous BlockShow took place in Berlin in the spring of this year.
The opening panel, titled “Wall Street vs Crypto,” brought together a number of industry experts to discuss the future potential of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), and the importance of regulatory involvement in the crypto sphere. Panelists debated the role of governments and financial institutions in paving the way for a “tsunami of innovation” enabled by blockchain.
Moderated by TechCrunch’s editor-at-large Mike Butcher, the panel was comprised of five experts from the finance and crypto industries, including leading IT analyst and Forbes contributor Jason Bloomberg, CEO of Celsius Network Alex Mashinsky, and CEO of Regulated Transactions at Titan DX exchange Rich Gupta.
Addressing the main question of when the two industries — crypto and Wall Street — are going to “merge,” Gupta claimed that the “mergence is happening right before us,” and that the underlying technology of crypto is being adopted by a number of companies. Specifically, Gupta mentioned the important role of blockchain deployment in backend development and settlement processes.
Celsius’ CEO claimed that traditional financial institutions should initially acquire first-hand experience in dealing with cryptocurrencies and learn how to “interact with the technology.” Without that, “we are not gonna have any progress,” Mashinsky stated.
Mashinsky also mentioned his experience in bringing together 250 compliance officers from major banks, during which he claimed that not a single person in the room said they held any cryptocurrency.
Speaking from a different point of view, Jason Bloomberg argued that one of the most important reasons for Wall Street to stay away from crypto for now is the “time bomb” that is the “permissionless” nature of cryptocurrency, making it an “arm of organized crime.”
Mashinsky challenged Bloomberg’s claim by saying that the “[U.S.] dollar is the number one [currency for] criminal activity.” Bloomberg retorted by calling the argument the “most common fallacy” adding that it is incorrect to believe that the volume of crimes conducted with fiat currencies makes cryptocurrency’s susceptibility to criminal activity acceptable.
Bloomberg added that the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries need to be heavily regulated, and that the only cryptocurrencies that will survive long-term are those of “permissioned nature,” meaning that they are not decentralized and are instead controlled by a single entity.
Another issue brought up during the panel was how the U.S. regulates investment in the crypto space. According to Mashinsky, the financial requirements for becoming an accredited investor — either an annual income of $200,000 or a net worth of $1 million — precludes retail investors from turning a profit by investing in stocks directly, making crypto an accessible alternative for the public.
Titan DX’s Rich Gupta argued that the crypto industry needs similar regulations to protect the potential investors.
Stay tuned to CryptoNewspeople for more news from BlockShow Americas 2018, a cryptocurrency and blockchain themed conference that has brought together more than 1,500 speakers and attendees from all over the world.