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Paris Blockchain Week 2022 focused on NFTs, the multi-chain future, preparing for mass adoption, and more.
Review of Paris Blockchain Week 2022
This week, a few thousand crypto geeks, industry leaders, and degenerates gathered in Paris to share their plans, network with friends they knew on Twitter and Telegram, and talk about industry progress. of the blockchain so far. They were in town for Paris Blockchain Week, the last big in-person meetup on the crypto calendar. The central meeting point of the event was the grandiose Palais Brongniart in the 2nd arrondissement, though much of the week was taken up with the busy schedule of side events hosted by various crypto-native companies and projects. The day saw discussions from crypto stalwarts like Changpeng “CZ” Zhao and Brad Garlinghouse. The parties took advantage of Paris’ most famous landmarks and the recent boom in digital assets to entice guests with breathtaking views and endless streams of free champagne.
Unlike the much larger Bitcoin conference that took place a week prior, Paris Blockchain Week was devoid of the clingy behavior and dumb antics crypto is sometimes known for. There was no Transformers style bull in front of the entrance. There were no extravagant whales tearing up euro banknotes. And there was no evidence of the one-chain tunnel vision mentality that is holding the Bitcoin community back.
Instead, the Paris Blockchain Week crowd seemed convinced, or at least open to the idea of a multi-chain future. On the opening day dedicated to NFTs, speakers discussed their various endeavors in the space, most of which leveraged crypto’s largest NFT network, Ethereum. Later in the week, the builders of Polkadot spoke casually about the fact that there was little doubt that we were heading towards a cross-channel world. And you couldn’t move for the Algorand brand (the Layer 1 network was one of the main sponsors of the event).
Unlike Bitcoin 2022 and other blockchain-specific events like Solana Breakpoint and Avalanche Summit, there was less focus on supposedly important but mostly disappointing announcements. The biggest news was CZ’s revelation that Binance had partnered with Station F to invest €100 million in French Web3 startups, claiming that “France is in a unique position to lead this industry in Europe” as the government is progressive in blockchain adoption. Another highlight was an appearance by Ukraine-born Celsius Founder and CEO, Alex Mashinsky, who opened his speech by clapping the crypto community for sending millions of dollars to Ukraine to help fund its war efforts (donations through various crypto-related initiatives for Ukraine total over $150 million). On similar advice to CZ, KUNA’s Michael Chobanian discussed the AidForUkraine campaign his company launched with FTX, Everstake and Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation and convincingly demonstrated that the country is now the most respectful nation cryptocurrencies in the world. Other discussions focused on the barriers the industry faces, from changing the prevailing perception of NFTs to creating payment solutions that aren’t completely unusable.
A better future ?
While daytime talks are where people come to learn at conferences, parties provide behind-the-scenes insight into the industry once everyone is loaded down with enough free booze. Sometimes dating at these parties can feel daunting. We swerved an NFT auction event because the cocktail party dress code seemed pretentious and at odds with Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision for crypto (this is a common theme at many crypto parties). In the ones we jumped to, at least one team member of a Layer 1 project we spoke to was unable to coherently explain what their blockchain does and why an equivalent like Ethereum cannot do better, in a more decentralized way. A Polkadot fan whose project has a parachain slot made valid criticisms of Ethereum DeFi, but then came off as an ignorant maxi by suggesting that Acala, Polkadot’s DeFi hub, was the only DeFi worth worth using. Someone who works at a major exchange that I won’t name here basically admitted top-tier asset listings. Another shill from the launch pad cheekily explained how his team tricks influencers with large followings into advertising their tokens so they can dupe retail into buying their trash.
A host of the best event we’ve ever attended, a private party on a boat moored next to the Eiffel Tower, greeted guests with a lesson in French history. He explained that the location they had chosen was appropriate as the Eiffel Tower was considered an eyesore when it was first erected in the 19th century. Crypto is suffering similar criticism today, he said. The fact is that the Eiffel Tower has become a French national treasure, visited by millions of people every year. If we’re right about all of this, crypto might have a similar journey to public acceptance (I thought that was a weird comparison too, but you get his point).
On the same evening, on a smaller open-top boat rented to take guests along the Seine, I chatted with someone who had been working in space since punting on ICOs was a more popular form of gambling than the typing of NFT PFPs. With the sound of a piano drifting in the background and the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower shimmering in the water, she asked me what I was looking forward to for years to come.—besides the possibility of financial freedom.
That’s when it hit me: whether we’ve been here a while or entered space following last year’s market mania, just about every Cryptocurrency advocates on the planet today agree that we are far from having the full vision of a decentralized world yet. And while there are still challenges ahead and plenty of reasons to be skeptical or recoil from certain aspects of this space, everyone is convinced that blockchain technology will bring us a better future. To make sure we get there, events like Paris Blockchain Week are key for the industry to converge and figure out how to get there.
Disclosure: At the time of writing this article, the author of this article owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.
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