BLOCKCHAIN SUMMIT – Startup advice

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With a now established product and brand which has sustainably added value to our business community, One Media & Events (OME) as the driver of Startup Grind Gibraltar will be upscaling. Embracing one of the hottest global tech topics, Blockchain, will be the priority this year, and May 2018 will see the Gibraltar Blockchain and Innovation Summit launched by OME with plans to take it round the world.

On the 6th December 2017 the final bill to amend the Financial Services (Investment and Fiduciary Services) Act, brought to the House by Minister for Finance Albert Isola, was passed unanimously. Minister Isola however, after a question from Roy Clinton, explained that ICO’s should not be confused with Distributed Ledger Technology, but confirmed that Government was moving quickly to also provide a level of regulation in this area. The conferences, seminars and events being hosted locally are already on the rise, so credibility and validation must also be maintained in this space.

So why focus on Blockchain and start-ups for the May summit? Back in the day, January 2009 to be exact, the proposed Bitcoin payment system was exciting and innovative, but it has been the mechanics of how it works that is truly revolutionary. Shortly after the white paper’s release, it was obvious that the main technical innovation was not this digital currency or that, but the technology that lay behind it.

Although commonly associated with cryptocurrencies and ICO’s, blockchain technology has many other applications. In fact, Bitcoin is only one of about seven hundred applications that use the blockchain operating system today.

After attending the EY Gibraltar Seminar with Paul Brody – their Global Blockchain Innovation Leader – last year, the follow up brochure sent explained “Blockchain technology is a way to structure data without the need for a central authority. A blockchain is a distributed database that hosts a continuously growing number of records. The database stores records in blocks rather than collating them in a single file. Each block is then “chained” to the next block, in linear, chronological order, using a cryptographic signature; as a result, records cannot be revised, and any attempted changes are visible to all participants. This process allows blockchains to be used as ledgers, which can be shared and corroborated by anyone with the appropriate permissions. These distributed ledgers can be spread across multiple sites, countries or institutions. Although blockchain technology is the foundation for cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin), there are a variety of financial and accounting applications beyond the realm of cryptocurrency.”

Adoption by large corporations, such as that by Microsoft in partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in June 2017, have been predicting comprehensive blockchain integration across tech companies and financial firms, proof the technology is maturing and still has lots of room to grow. Start-ups rise and fall everyday any founder can relate to that, so if your start-up is on the blockchain, things are looking up. In terms of compliance, the distributed nature invites collaboration between companies and individuals in the ecosystem. For that reason, blockchain start-ups as a whole are in a unique position to reshape entire industries. Some applications of blockchain will also see the new EU General Data Protection Regulation active on May 25, 2018 already incorporated with the self-sovereign digital identity, a promise whose values are reiterated in the GDPR legislation.

Non-executive director of The Gibraltar International Bank, Marcus Killick, announced that from November 2017 the bank will now be accepting accounts from companies who use the encrypted technology. Businesses using Blockchain will be provided standard banking services, but every account will be assessed beforehand on its own merit, and will need to comply with all regulatory standards.

In essence, Gibraltar is breaking borders with technology as one of the only industries we can fully rely on as a jurisdiction to save us from all the adversity that an unfortunate outcome of Brexit presents. Marrying the next chain of events in the calendar for 2018 into a summit is the natural transition.

Startup Grind’s Global Conference (startupgrind.com/conference) will take place in February. This is an event for start-ups everywhere, and local businesses and entrepreneurs should set their sights on attending. Over 7000 entrepreneurs will meet in Silicon Valley for 2.5 days of sessions led by top CEOs and influencers, dynamic networking events, meetings with investors, access to invaluable resources, and more.

Additionally there is a Director’s Retreat; this is a part of the event held exclusively to those who run a chapter. Connecting with each other brings us together and the networking possibilities are endless. Aside from learning how to improve on our individual chapters from more experienced directors from other countries, the structure provided and network is the platform for each of us to help fuel our own start-up, and that is the essence of this phenomenal organisation and why Google for Entrepreneurs has their back.

The Barcelona Chapter of Startup Grind is one of the strongest and most active chapters of the community, the first ever Barcelona – San Francisco Summit held in this city in October presented a lineup of local and international speakers, and attracted quite a crowd – 700 attendees. Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit, Startup Grind Regional Director and Co-Founder of Mars Based (marsbased.com), a development consultancy for web and mobile apps, is the guest for this month’s Fireside Chat in Gibraltar on the 11th January at the World Trade Center (search startupgrind.com for details).

For information on Gibraltar Blockchain and Innovation Summit register on www.gibblock.com or email denise@onemediaevents.com.

BY DENISE MATTHEWS