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If you were at Latitude59 2022, which took place in the past week at Kultuurikatel – the century-old power plant turned dynamic creative hub, you would agree that it was the one place to be from May 19-20, 2022.
Over 350 investors, 500+ startups, and over 2500 participants from +55 countries gathered together to make digital magic; what could have been better?
In its ten years, and still counting, of existence, Latitude59 has been a haven for investors, startups, and innovation-minded individuals worldwide. Meanwhile, Latitude59 2022 has just raised the bar steps higher. Themed Purpose and Inclusion, Latitude59 2022 was about inserting purpose and inclusion as ethos into digital transformation and innovation, and all sessions reflected that one way or the other.
For seven years, we have been supporting Latitude59, and this edition was no different. At the Hedman and Binance-powered Future Stage, one of the tech con’s locations, there were so many defining moments that it was hard for us to decide on a top 10, let alone a top 5.
So, instead of that, we decided to share with you some of the recurrent themes from the over 18 panels, fireside chats, and keynotes at the Future Stage. This we will do in a two-part series.
Web3: Ownership, Inclusion, and Market Takeover
The third wave in the evolution of the internet/web, Web3.0, is a disruptive shift from Web2.0 and focuses on providing decentralized, smarter, more transparent, open, more accessible platforms using a machine-based understanding of data. “It is the ‘read-write-execute’ internet phase whereby users can read, write, and interact with content, and the internet is also capable of thinking and acting on its own,” Ethan Pierse, founding partner of Borderless Ventures and director at the CryptoAssets Institute notes. Martin Bruncko, Binance’s executive vice president in Europe, called it “the participative internet.”
Why is Web3 so important? Andres Sutt, Estonian minister of Entrepreneurship and IT, points out that “it is the notion of ownership.” He notes that Web3 has brought on a massive wave of consolidation, making the internet accessible and executable to anyone and everyone but essentially giving the big tech companies the power to dominate and control. Web3 enables radical shifts in ownership structures, revenue channels, and incentive movements thanks to its decentralized, transparent, and trust-based ethos.
Can Web3 be inclusive and sustainable? Several panelists agreed that it is possible but take extra conscious effort. Eriko Suzuki, CEO of Kind Capital, also revealed that the East Asian market is one of the best markets for Web3 to take off. According to her, East Asian countries like Japan are currently a hardware-dense market and need next-level internet and web solutions to take their market to the next level. Can you offer them the crucial digital solutions they need? If yes, then you have your market!
A Look into the World of NFTs
“I think NFTs are ridiculous… nothing more than glorified JPEGs,” said one of the panelists. The ensuing response was the eruption of resounding laughter across the Future Stage, with many participants nodding in agreement. You might also agree that they are ridiculous if you have seen the numerous meme-worthy artworks associated with NFTs on Twitter.
Ethan emphasized that it is necessary to push away the idea that NFTs are just the ugly art we see on Twitter. “That is just a small example of what NFTs could be,” he said. According to him, they allow us to create access to all kinds of things, whether physical or digital.
An NFTs, short for ‘non-fungible tokens,’ are cryptographic assets with unique digital data stored in a blockchain as a form of financial security or tradeable ledger. Currently, there are a lot of controversies associated with NFTs, which is pretty much unsurprising given that they are still at the early stage of adoption. Regardless, NFTs present a solution to a critical problem – digital scarcity, a problem deeply connected to the dawn of the digital economy.
By attributing the ownership of digital pieces to a public, immutable ledger, it becomes easy to distinguish the original piece of an asset apart from copies and the original owner from others with duplicates. Of course, since NFTs are still in the early stage of innovation and adoption, you should understand the volatility aspect and potential risks involved before dabbling into this space.
Regulation of the Crypto Sphere
For a while, a big two-in-one question has been recurring regarding cryptocurrency. The question is, can cryptocurrency be regulated, and should it? The decentralized nature of cryptocurrency means its supply and exchange are not limited, managed, or set by a government or central authority. Transactions within the blockchain are usually conducted and authenticated without the interference of any third party.
But while most people love it just as it is, several would-be investors fear the high volatility of this unregulated terrain. Likewise, many others worry that this hard-to-regulate nature of the domain makes it a significant breeding ground for financial criminals.
On the other hand, there are only so many regulatory entities can do here. Andres notes that while all the tendered concerns about cryptocurrency are valid, framing regulations in the financial world would always be at least a step behind. Likewise, he revealed that the Estonian legislation does not intend to box technological solutions and limit service providers just because some criminals might be lurking.
Notwithstanding, some crypto-based organizations go out of their way to get regulated and offer their existing and potential customers enhanced security and stability. “We think smart regulation is critical in this space and essential for the development of this space,” Binance’s Martin notes. “We have now become a fully regulated entity in France. We have worked hard for a very long time to get regulated and legally accepted in France. As you might probably know, France is a pretty tough regulator. So, if we got its regulatory approval, we got it right. And now, he reveals that we’re applying for registration licenses across Europe where it’s required,” he reveals.
When asked why they did and are doing this, he notes that it’s for two reasons: to comply with the law and to give the consumers an additional layer of trust. At this juncture, it is also worth knowing that the final version of Estonia’s anti-money laundering act (AML Act), which now accounts for some aspects of the crypto space, was adopted on February 23, 2022.