The world is a constantly changing place — and from an economic standpoint, things are dramatically shifting, too. Two major superpowers, the United States and China, are embroiled in a dramatic trade war where tit-for-tat tariffs have been placed on goods — breeding uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike and making everyday products more expensive. The United Kingdom is still embroiled in a messy divorce from the European Union, and Russia is ratcheting up tensions with its neighbors in the West.
All of this geopolitical drama has two effects. Firstly, it can wreak havoc on the markets, wiping billions of dollars off the value of major companies and affecting employment rates in the world’s economies. Secondly, it is prompting some enthusiasts to passionately advocate for crypto and blockchain taking a bigger role in the economy. They say it could help bring down borders, making international payments faster and less expensive, while encouraging trade between nations.
That said, crypto and blockchain are also creating new geopolitical challenges. North Korea has faced allegations that a sophisticated group of hackers are launching cyberattacks on major exchanges in neighboring South Korea and other parts of Asia. Millions of dollars have been lost, with each incident shaking consumer confidence to its core. India has also been resolute in its decision to push ahead with a crypto ban. This could have ramifications for the likes of Facebook, which is hoping to launch a stablecoin that would benefit the unbanked. The Libra project is also creating tensions around the world, with many countries — the U.S. and the EU among them — concerned that the cryptocurrency could undermine traditional payment infrastructure and overtake the dollar and the euro.
A major thing that’s holding cryptocurrency back is the disjointed, fragmented approach to regulation around the world. While some countries like India are taking a hardline approach by proposing jail terms for anyone found handling these coins and tokens, the likes of Japan and Canada have been far more laidback — encouraging innovation, enabling taxes to be paid using Bitcoin, and creating so-called “regulatory sandboxes” where new crypto products can be tested on a small portion of the population before being rolled out.
There is a real and pressing divide when it comes to the attitudes surrounding crypto and blockchain. In some countries, there is incredible caution surrounding this technology amid fears it could have a detrimental impact on vulnerable consumers. That said, there are politicians out there who are appalled by the negative attitude that’s being espoused towards the industry — people who believe in its potential and believe their country should be at the forefront of innovation.
In part, this desire for a pro-crypto stance lies in fears that certain countries may be getting a headstart on developing their own central bank digital currency, establishing early dominance. One such country is China — which is already set to embark on a rapid acceleration of blockchain usage at the behest of President Xi Jinping.
What of the future?
Reading the tea leaves to figure out what the future holds for crypto and blockchain is a challenge. Will China achieve dominance and launch a central bank digital currency? Will India be successful in its quest to ban cryptocurrency? Will Russia succeed in its quest to enable law enforcement to confiscate Bitcoin, and is this even possible?
With so many unknowns, conferences have gained popularity as a way of hearing valuable insights from some of the best-known practitioners in the crypto and blockchain industries. One of them is the Crypto Finance Conference, which is taking place from Jan. 15 to 17 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Organizers of the conference say that they are determined to cater each session to the individual needs of attendees. To that end, some of the event’s main speakers are going to be taking time to answer questions both onstage and offstage. Extensive networking opportunities are also on offer, giving delegates the chance to delve into areas of particular interest and establish meaningful contacts.
The program is still under development — but already, there are a series of sessions that will interest those who are keeping a close eye on geopolitical developments in the industry. The first day will explore the global impact of crypto and blockchain, and offer predictions for the future. There’s little doubt that the talk on the evolution of central banking will explore the attitudes that countries worldwide are adopting when it comes to everything from Bitcoin to Libra. Tales from the global regulatory frontline are also going to be shared.
With crypto and blockchain constantly hitting the headlines and battles being fought on many fronts, there’s going to be plenty to discuss as business visionaries descend on one of Switzerland’s finest resort towns.
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