Impressions from the Shanghai Blockchain Summit

China has always been a key player in blockchains being the largest in crypto mining especially Bitcoin and Ethereum. In addition it is the market with the most speculation behind price movements in the top altcoins. China also manufactures most of the specialized computers used for blockchain mining, IoT and for specialized processing (crypto and graphics motherboards). Recently the region is becoming very active in blockchain applications themselves. Blockchain conferences have typically endless presentations of proofs of concepts or limited production pilots outside of businesses built on Bitcoin which remains the only production blockchain at scale, meaning real businesses running on it.China was not that different in that sense.

The Shanghai conference was focused on Ethereum, since the host, Wanxiang Blockchain Labs’s CTO is Vitalik Buterin himself, although Wanxiang is a major automotive conglomerate in China. Here are a couple of impressions that made this event stand out from the other blockchain conferences:

  • Among the dozens of startups presenting, there were some consumer blockchain apps approaching millions of users (it is China after all)
  • There were major corporate annoucements including Wanxiang moving it’s metal mining tracking onto the Ethereum blockchain (a $30 Billion business)
  • Most of the businesses were from NA and Europe including well-known names like IBM, Microsoft, R3, Hyperledger, Consensys, Bloq, Fluent, CME, Abra, Augur, Everledger and Factom
  • Big Chinese players are emerging like Wanxiang, Chinaledger, Bank of China, Chinese Government (NIFA)
  • Venture funds I spoke with were anxious to see exits from early blockchain investments but few are in sight

Some cool new business models presented:

  • Bestowit – managing your digital afterlife – smart contracts to give access to digital files UJO Music
  • Blockchain based music publishing by artists
  • Stablecoin – taking the volatility out of cryptocurrency – by tracking real currency on blockchain
  • Virtualpoker – smart contract based poker without a casino intermediary
  • BioT – IoT with thumb-size full ethereum thin clients

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