Blockchain: Bitcoin and Beyond

Consensus 2016, the second annual blockchain technology summit, was held in New York last week.  Presented by CoinDesk and Digital Currency Group in collaboration with Coin Center, the conference was a meet-up for bitcoin purists, blockchain advocates, venture capitalists, bankers, academics, companies, and consumers who see the potential for big things in bitcoin and blockchain (the technology that underpins bitcoin). Goodwin was a sponsor of the event, and Digital Currency Perspectives blog editors Grant Fondo and Cindy McAdam both attended.

Coin Center also hosted its annual dinner alongside the event.  Keynote speakers included U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, 5th Congressional District and venture capitalist Fred Wilson, with Union Square Ventures, one of the earliest blockchain investors.  The evening concluded with the 2016 Blockchain awards.  The big winner for the night was OpenBazaar, which won multiple awards including for best new startup.

The focus for the past several years has been on bitcoin companies, with an estimated $1 billion invested in bitcoin start-ups since 2013 (with nearly two-thirds of that amount pouring in in 2015).  But it’s apparent that both entrepreneurs, investors and enterprises are all eagerly eyeing the potential for the blockchain technology on which bitcoin is built.

While this space used to be dominated by companies with “bit” or “coin” in their name, we’re now seeing household names, such as Nasdaq, Microsoft, IBM, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, to name a few.  Blockchain applications offer the promise of better levels of authentication, auditability, and security.  And though the space is awash in money, it remains in its infancy, with a promise of even bigger and better things to come.