The Blockchain and cryptocurrency space has never really radiated strongly from any one country in Europe, barring perhaps Switzerland with its progressive cryptocurrency valley, Zug. But the Swiss have always marched to their beat and been rather happy to remains neutral and passive.
In the east, there is Japan and South Korea pushing the boundaries of Blockchain and crypto adoption and use; the United States is starting to come around with individual states pushing their forward-thinking agendas – such as Wyoming.
Even in Africa, countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and a few big hitters on the continent are starting to break new grounds in this technological space. As is Australia with its firm, but fair, rules and regulations.
However, Europe remains faceless in terms of one nation grabbing the baton and running ahead. Many would be looking to significant countries such as the UK, Germany, and of course France.
With regards to France, the only blockchain and cryptocurrency news that has come out of her is from the anti-establishment ‘yellow vest’ protesters, and tobacco shops where Bitcoin can be bought, but other than these token appearances, not much is being done in France to push the boundaries.
The Paris Blockchain Week
This perception is about to be tested as the capital, Paris, embarks on the Paris Blockchain Week Summit on Tuesday, 16 April. These sorts of conferences and summits are springing up more and more frequently, but this will be one of the bigger ones for Paris, and France. It will go a long way in determining, on a larger scale, the real interest of this burgeoning ecosystem in the country.
To determine the success of a significant city conference, one needs to determine if the general public has the same interest and enthusiasm as those trying to grow and expand the ecosystem within the country or city.
Karim Sabba, co-host of the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, explains his view of the Parisian people and their approach to the technology:
“The general public in France is particularly inquisitive and enthusiastic when it comes to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology,” says Sabba. “We have seen this first-hand during ‘CryptoMondays’ events.”
“’CryptoMondays’ is an event we started running in Paris after being contacted by the CryptoMondays founder Lou Kerner. We ran regular CryptoMondays events where we brought in some of the top talents in the blockchain. We have successfully built up the largest CryptoMondays community in the world with over 2500 active members.”
“This served as a stepping stone to the Paris Blockchain Week. After experiencing the interest of the general public first-hand, we knew that there would be an appetite for such an event.”
Many of these smaller interest groups are popping up across the world. In London, United Kingdom, Blockchain dinners are being run and sponsored to get like-minded and influential blockchain figures in a room together to discuss and debate the path for the technology.
Figures such as powerful blockchain influencer Thomas Power, as well as IBCS Group Founder and Author Brian Marcel, have combined to put on these intimate dinners which have been inundated with interest from blockchain enthusiasts in London, and soon further than the reaches of the capital in the United Kingdom, and even globally.
Beyond the man in the street
The Paris Blockchain Week Summit is however aimed at more than just tickling the fancy of the everyday man in the street, blockchain growth and adoption needs to come from companies, corporations, as well as through education and learning of regulators and governments.
“From our experience, we have seen an extremely positive attitude to adopting blockchain technology from corporates in France,” adds Sabba. “Corporates such as HSBC, BNP, and the four major public auditing firms are all members of the French Digital Asset Association reflecting their drive to both understand blockchain technology and implement it in the right ways.”
“Seminars, training, and conferences are a big part of the activities of the French Digital Asset Association, and we have always experienced a willingness to gain a deep understanding of the technology from the corporates that are members of the association.”
“We are fortunate that this drive has also been reciprocated in government. We have very forward-looking members in parliament such as Jean-Michel Mis and Laure de La Raudière who have been pushing forward legislation to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology. The recently passed PACTE law is going to make it even more attractive for corporates to start experimenting with the technology as they will now have a regulatory framework with which they can comply.”
A new form of drive
There is no getting away from the fact that Bitcoin, and its rise to $20,000 in December of 2017, helped drive the adoption, interest, as well as, unfortunately, greed in the blockchain space. Much of that growth was necessary to help accelerate the technology, but it was also a double-edged sword as it created a speculators’ bubble and a lot of scams and bad actors.
Now, with the bubble having popped, and a rebuilding phase coming in, conferences, dinners, meetups and discussions are seen as much smarter, and more sustainable, way of reinvigorating the space.
“Conferences such as the Paris Blockchain Week play a big role in driving blockchain adoption at usage,” said Sabba. “At face value, there is plenty of well-known speakers delving into hot topics. This does a lot to increase awareness about the technology and improve the understanding of the general public. But behind the scenes, we get a commingling of business people, founders, developers, investors, and corporates. This is where the partnerships are formed for the businesses that are going to drive blockchain adoption and usage.”
“At the moment, blockchain companies are struggling to secure high-quality development talent. There is intense competition from more traditional industries and start-ups in the crypto world can struggle to compete with the lucrative compensation packages offered in these industries.”
“Conferences such as the Paris Blockchain Week allows founders to pitch their vision and the possibility to come to an arrangement that is beneficial to both developers and themselves. We are excited to be facilitating these kinds of partnerships, and we will be right in the centre of the conference ourselves to experience it all take place.”