Convergence Looks At The “Big Picture” Of Decentralisation And Society

Convergence Looks At The “Big Picture” Of Decentralisation And Society

This is the second of four articles on the program and goals of Convergence - The Global Blockchain Congress. For more on the event, and to purchase a ticket, visit  

In the first article of this series, we introduced you to the motivations behind and goals for Convergence. In this article, we take a first deep dive into the program.

One of the main visions of Convergence is to examine the ‘convergent trends’ in the area of blockchain and society. Among the sessions that you can choose from addressing this broad area are: 

A World of Ledgers: DLT Five Years from Now (12 November 10:00 - 11:00)

Blockchain has been widely touted as the technology of decentralisation – a way to build new, peer-to-peer networks and with it disintermediate important economic, social and political structures. But what exactly does decentralisation mean, and do we really need it? In our opening session, Valery Vavilov, the CEO of Bitfury, will be discussing if blockchain can become a “new nervous system” for the digital economy. Sheila Warren, head of blockchain at the World Economic Forum, will talk about how governments can use blockchain to serve the public. Both will then join Julie Maupin, Chair of INATBA, to lay out their collective vision of a decentralised world. This is followed by panels on blockchain and intellectual property, with among others representatives of the WTO and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office, and a practitioner’s view of building blockchain ecosystems.

Blockchain for a sustainable society and new business models  (12 November 11:00 - 12:00)

Almost since its inception, blockchain has been seen by many as a force for good. The “technology of trust,” it is argued, can be employed to support transparency, accountability and efficiency in any number of important social causes – and do so in a cost-efficient, one could say “grass roots,” fashion. Whether enabling development aid, addressing lending risks for developing countries, or using blockchain to support a more sustainable society through increased transparency in existing aid infrastructures, new business models and “smarter” cities, there is no lack of ideas for how blockchain can support a more sustainable society. To see if this is so, we are honoured to welcome such distinguished practitioners as Vanessa Grellet, President of the Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition, Vidya ShankarNarayan, Digital Government of Canada Denis Robitaille of the World Bank, Stefan Junestrand of Grupo Tecma Red, Simona Pop of the Bounties Network and Caroline Dama of Grassroots Economics for a close look at what is happening on the ground in the area of blockchain for good – and what we can expect in the future. Related sessions directly address such topics as blockchain climate action, the future of energy, blockchain in healthcare, education and supply chain, smart cities, self-sovereign identity and blockchain for SMEs.

Stablecoins and central bank cryptocurrencies (12 November 15:45-17:15)

Surely one of our most anticipated sessions, our stablecoin debate delves into one of the hottest, and most consequential, topics in blockchain right now. As many will know, Facebook recently made global headlines with the announcement of its formation of the Libra Association and its Libra stable coin. While Libra could easily become a new world currency and a boon to billions of unbanked around the world, it has also raised concerns among policy makers. At the same time, central banks seem to be warming to the idea of blockchain-based money, which among other things could greatly facilitate blockchain-based commerce. At Convergence, Dante Disparte, Vice President of the Libra Association will take a look behind-the-scenes at the opportunities and risks of stable coins. Olivier Guersent, the EC’s Director General of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA), will look at stable coins and the regulatory “storm clouds”, while Yuko Kawai of the Bank of Japan will give us an insider’s view on central bank-issued digital currencies (spoiler alert: they may arrive sooner than we think.) Is the world ready for a global digital currency? In our panel, you can hear the views from the ECB and others. 

Blockchain Platforms: Disruption of Data Monopolies? (13 November 9:00 - 11:00)

Data, it has long been said, is the new oil or gold, and data is at the heart of many of today’s most successful platforms. Curiously, while DLT has been seen as a means of disrupting today’s platform society through decentralisation,  major incumbents, from Amazon to AliBaba, are embracing the technology. In our blockchain platform session, we ask if DLT can disrupt data “monopolies” or if it might do the opposite and strengthen the position of the incumbents running centralised networks. The discussion starts “at the top” with Maria Velentza, head of unit at the EC’s Directorate General for Competition, who looks at the “intimate” rivalry between DLT and Platforms. In the following panel, Facebook’s Lee Brenner, Takeshi Fukuizumi of Softbank, and Ling Wu of TBCASoft in China, ask if the notion of a decentralised social network is an oxymoron (or not). We also have a practitioner’s look into the challenges facing “permissionless” innovation, among others with Tezos’s Kathleen Breitman, INATBA Chair Julie Maupin and Lon Wong, CEO of ProximaX

Blockchain, Technology and the Law.  (13 November 16:30-17:30)

We won’t say we’re saving the best for last, as we think all our sessions are good. But our closing session will surely be a highlight too. For one, we are using it to tie together the subjects of our previous thematic and technical talks, outlining a path forward to a human-centric development of emerging technologies and asking some of the broader, more philosophical questions that face both lawmakers and society as we face the potential and the challenges created by exponential technologies. For another, we have an incredible lineup. This includes President Egil Levits of Latvia, who is also a former judge of the European Court of Justice, will draw on his lifetime of experience as a judge and policy maker to explore the role of the state in accompanying the deployment of disruptive technologies in society, as well as Professor Silvio Micali of MIT, One of the world’s foremost authorities on cryptography and information security and founder of the Algorand blockchain, who will be following him to look at why decentralisation of the Internet really matters. 

There are still tickets available to Convergence. Simply register online.

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