Emerging Technologies Lead The Way: Highlights From Digital Week Online

Key takeaways from Digital Week Online’s expert-led online events

By Monika Ghosh and Sharon Lewis

Uvecon.VC, Invest Show, and ECIDE organized ‘Digital Week Online’ this week, starting on Monday. The show is a free global innovation, investments, and technology conference, headlined by 48 hours of non-stop online conference on the second and third day.

The conference boasted more than 100 renowned speakers from across the globe, and over 5000 participants.

The second day, called ‘Blockchain Day,’ started off with a keynote from Henri Arslanian, Partner and Global Crypto Leader at PwC, on ‘Latest Global Crypto Trends: from Libra and central bank digital currencies to crypto hedge funds and fundraising,’ followed by 24 hours of discussions on every aspect of blockchain and crypto. Find the full agenda and list of speakers here.

The conference dived into all the latest disruptive tech trends around the globe, such as blockchain and sustainable innovation. Here are some key themes from the conference’s 48-hour live expert discussions.

Libra has the potential to disrupt banking and payments as we know it

Dave Chapman, Executive Director at BC Group and OSL, delivered a keynote on the ‘Libra Effect.’ He discussed the history of blockchain and crypto, Libra’s potential for growth, and why investors are bullish about its prospects.

Libra 2.0, which now proposes to offer single currency stablecoins, like LibraEUR and LibraUSD, in addition to a multi-currency basket, could potentially enable seamless integration to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) as well, he added.

Chapman said, “Because of its unique structure, proposed regulatory framework, and very high profile, we believe that Libra can help accelerate digital assets regulation, and facilitate some of the entry for institutional players in this space.”

Since Libra will not be operating on a public blockchain, but rather, on a blockchain controlled by a group of trusted parties, it will most likely mean that it is highly scaleable. It will have the ability to support large number of users and transactions, he added.

However, there remain some essential privacy concerns that Libra 2.0 must overcome. Traditionally, cryptocurrencies do not require identification, but Libra’s digital wallet, renamed ‘Novi’ (previously Calibra) on Tuesday, will be usable as a standalone app as well as in Messenger and WhatsApp, and will require government-issued identification checks.

While it might be easy to dismiss what has long been seen as a “fringe technology,” Chapman expects Libra to be widely adopted and act as a catalyst for global digital asset use, accelerating access to digital assets and payment – including Bitcoin adoption – by at least 10 years. This process will be expedited by growing regulatory clarity, adoption, and inclusion in traditional finance.

“It’s hard to fathom how [Libra] won’t be a success, in my opinion, just given their reach, accessibility, company valuation, and resources. For me, it ticks a lot of the boxes to be a success,” he said.

Bitcoin prices likely to be stuck between $6,000 and $10,000 for the majority of the year

Tone Vays, Consultant and Researcher at Derivatives Trader, said in his keynote on ‘Trading and manipulation on financial and crypto markets that he expects Bitcoin prices to be stuck between $6,000 and $8,000 for the majority of the year.

Although he expects a bigger pull-out before Bitcoin prices break through the $10,000 ceiling, he does not think that the prices will fall below $6,000.

He also said that manipulation in the crypto market is unlikely. Large investors making big deals in order to move the market should not be called manipulation, but rather, should be looked at as poker players with deep pockets who push other players around because of their enormous resources.

But as long as all players are playing by the same rules and operating with the same information, it cannot be called a manipulation of the market, whether in crypto or traditional money markets. According to him, in order to avoid manipulation, traders should avoid smaller and less liquid exchanges.

Asia is a fragmented market, and needs to strategize accordingly

*Jumpstart’s* CEO Relena Sei discussed the state of tech in Asia with a panel of speakers hailing from Invest HK, Tsangs Group, and SOSV, along with a Taiwanese public figure.

Taiwanese Legislator and Congressperson Jason Hsu pointed out that the strength of the Asian market lies largely in manufacturing, and sorely needs to be digitalized.

Hsu believes that resources should be focused on adopting new trends and resolving emerging problems, instead of expecting startups to keep surviving through bailouts.

Head of StartmeupHK at Invest HK Jayne Chan added that governments in Asia, when strategizing for their economies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, need to support startups by plugging visible gaps in the ecosystem instead of replicating previous strategies.

Chairman of Tsangs Group Patrick Tsang noted that while the funding pipeline is currently moving sluggishly, artificial intelligence, biotech, fintech, and robotics are looking optimistic.

In his keynote on China’s experience fighting COVID-19, Vice Chairman at Shenzhen Baoan District General Chamber of Commerce Wu Kai highlighted that China’s manufacturing and supply chain helped provide timely protection to people.

Along with incorporating different technologies, he said it is also important for governments to have a hand in organizing such operations.

Responsible business is the need of the hour

Investor demand and regulations have been driving a surge in sustainable technologies in the financial sector, through stricter implementations of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting amongst businesses, ESG and Impact Practice Lead at Vivien Teu & Co. Ng Tze-Wei said.

She also pointed out that there is a global trend of moving towards standardization of reporting, exemplified in organizations such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which works to develop generally accepted climate-related financial risk disclosures.

Another trend is the emergence of environmental financial products (EFPs). Co-Founder and Head of Origination at Allinfra Bill Kentrup pointed out that the price of carbon- and climate-related products rose 5X in 2019.

Going forward, carbon emissions, water, energy, and waste management were highlighted as some of the priorities of responsible business by IxD Capital Head of Project Operations Evgeny Bazhan.

Curating a massive experience such as the Digital Week Online can and did lead to tech glitches here and there, what with mismatched time zones and live streaming issues. However, with a roundtable view of current cross-industry disruptions and transformations, there was something for everyone at the 48-hour rally of expert discussions.

Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

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