Mark Pascall

April Newsletter – Emerging From the Crypto Winter

Dear Readers,

What a roller coaster of a ride the last 12 months have been in the blockchain world. We have seen the ICO money grab craziness and many of the not-so-sensible projects disappear. We’ve also seen many local and international companies having to scale down teams, and ongoing problems with exchanges (including the high profile Cryptopia hack in Christchurch). But we are also seeing many positive signs that are indicating that the fundamentals are improving and we are out of the ‘crypto winter’:

  • Transaction volumes are significantly up across the 10 most popular blockchains and most of the top 20 cryptocurrency/token prices are either levelling out or slowly increasing against fiat.
  • The SEC releasing its long-awaited crypto token guidance.
  • New smart contract blockchain platforms such as EOS are making huge advances in the scaling transaction through-put, “layer 2” solutions for Bitcoin and Ethereum are coming closer to reality, and in-development technologies like Cardana, Dfinity, Holochain and IPFS are showing exciting promise.
  • Growing confidence in the new generation of US$ pegged “stable coins” such as Tether, Gemini dollar and MakerDAO (with even JP Morgan getting involved)
  • Platforms like Aragon and DAOStack are getting closer to offering anybody the ability to easily create a global, scalable Decentralised Autonomous Organisation.

And still, in my opinion, our own government doesn’t seem to be taking the opportunities that decentralisation technology can offer New Zealand seriously. Three reports (Regulating Cryptocurrencies in New ZealandNew Zealand: Unlocking Blockchains Potential and Distributed Ledgers and Blockchains: Opportunities for Aotearoa New Zealand) have detailed a number of ways that we can move forward and yet we are still having the same conversations about not being able to open a bank account, or double payment of GST. Meanwhile, we are seeing other governments starting to innovate. A good example is the Token Taxonomy Act being debated in the US currently.
 
A number of our members are keen to re-engage with government and form a working group in order to get some action. If you want to get involved with this group please get in touch.


Local successes

It is great to see some local member success stories, including:

For future newsletters we are keen to profile our members. Please contact us if you would like to be mentioned.


Events summary

There have been lots of events in the past month:

  • New Frontiers ‘decentralisation day’ gave us locals an amazing chance to hear from and chat to some of the industry superstars such as Naval Ravikant, Naraj Mehta and Arthur Brock. A number of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship fellows have committed to work with BlockchainNZ to help our members connect with the right people (e.g. the crypto investors) around the world. If there are any of the fellows who you would like to be connected with, please drop us a line.
  • ‘Leveraging Blockchain for your Digital Identity’ ran in Auckland and Wellington to large audiences. Arthur Brock (co-founder/Architect of Holochain) gave the Wellington audience an insight into how new decentralised technologies are addressing identity, while Alan Bell (Director of Digital Identity at the DIA) gave a government perspective on some of the challenges and objectives. The panel discussion (including representatives from Centrality, IBM, Verify Union, Spark and Sphere identity) was fascinating and gave us a unique insight into the vendor environment in this space. A big thanks to IBM for sponsoring the events.
  • A number of meetups have run in Auckland and Wellington, including Craig MacGregor talking about Navcoin; and myself, Kate Beecroft (Barcelona based community lead for DaoStack) and Phoebe Tickle (London based lead for dGov) talking about Decentralised Autonomous Organisation. For those of you who missed this we have just released a video of the Wellington DAO presentations. And not to forget Christchurch, where Axia Labs and Orchid ran a successful meetup attracting around 30 people who listened to presentations from each company before a few hours of blockchain based chat.
  • And finally, on Wednesday 3 April I gave an introduction to blockchain keynote at a free event hosted by the India New Zealand Business Council in Auckland.

 Please note that from now on we will be posting event videos on the BlockchainNZ YouTube channel.


Training

One of our key strategic initiatives is to help our members upskill in this fast-moving space. This can range from ‘101’ presentations to non-technical board members, through to ideation workshops around new ideas, and smart contract developer training in blockchains like Ethereum, EOS and Hyperledger.

We are excited to announce that we have just finalised a deal with Consensys Education to give BlockchainNZ members a 20% discount on the on-demand developer program. This end-to-end Ethereum developer course is a robust, self-paced course that has been created with the busy professional in mind.

If you have any requirements in this space please contact us for more details.


Upcoming film: The Trust Machine – The Story of Blockchain

We’re excited to be promoting this film in New Zealand as part of the Documentary Edge Festival.
 
“Why are banks terrified of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, while UNICEF embraces them to help refugee children?

Hacktivist and blockchain expert Lauri Love fights extradition, his computer skills considered a threat by the US government. Tech innovators strike a raw nerve as banks and network pundits rush to condemn volatile cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology.

Award–winning filmmaker Alex Winter reveals that proponents of blockchain — a verified digital ledger — are already using the technology to change the world; fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis and world hunger.”
 
The festival promoters are looking for possible sponsors. If interested, please contact us.


Blockchain standards

BlockchainNZ has representatives on the ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies working group. There is a Dublin plenary being held on 27-31 May 2019 where all the contributors from the various working groups from around the world will gather in person.
 
The various working groups are:
WG1 – Foundations
WG2 – Security, privacy and identity
WG3 – Smart contracts and their applications
WG5 – Governance
SG2 – Use Cases
SG7 – Interoperability

If you are interested in joining or contributing please contact Wendy, the New Zealand secretariat, for further information.


Why join?

Different organisations will benefit differently from being members of BlockchainNZ.

BlockchainNZ is a vehicle enabling members to do what individual organisations can’t do alone. More benefit can be expected from growing membership and participation.
 
Key benefits for members include the ability to:

  • Directly shape the New Zealand blockchain agenda and calendar of activities;
  • Participate (at discounted costs) in activities throughout the year, both domestically and internationally;
  • Get promotional opportunities for yourself and your business in relevant activities and events;
  • Gain visibility of who is doing what and direct opportunity to connect/collaborate with others;
  • Get sponsoring opportunities in blockchain related activities and events;
  • Be part of the wider New Zealand Technology Alliance.

 Please contact us either via the website or email.


Other events of interest

The New Zealand Techweek19 programme is live, with 100 events already planned around New Zealand and more being added. Check out the programme to plan your week, or submit an event of your own.
 
Join Agritech New ZealandBIOTechNZ and the New Zealand IoT Alliance at the April Tech Alliance event series on 9 April in Christchurch10 April in Wellington and 11 April in Auckland.


Mark Pascall Mark is Executive Director of Blockchain New Zealand. Mark is passionate about all things decentralised and blockchain. He is currently director co-founder of Blockchainlabs.nz (Independent global blockchain advisors, specialising in security, R&D and smart contract auditing).