IGF 2018 WS #263 Blockchain, Bitcoin : A Revolution of Trust in Global Trades

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

The emergence of crypto-currencies has been supported by the idea that government’s fiat currencies are not reliable anymore and that a new international monetary system has to be built upon individuals, technology, more transparence, and decentralization values and systems instead of discretionary governments, and centralization values and system. An increasing part of the population in both developed and developing countries is questioning the sovereign power of government on currencies and is trying to draw a future wherein money/currency is controlled by its users without the possibility for an actor to take actions against the well-being, or at least the will, of the larger community. This is the postulate behind most of the crypto-currencies, starting by the most famous one: Bitcoin whose crazy run in November-December 2019 (up to almost $20,000/1Btc) has amazed a lot of speculators and frightened a lot of regulators.

With a total market capitalization of $344 344 022 490, this crypto-currencies have known fame lately because of this exact speculation they have been subject to in developed countries principally. However, their use is a revolution for most of developing and emerging countries’ citizens due to the digitization and the convenience they present for a population which is, sometimes, deprived from its economic and financial rights. Therefore, crypto-currencies and their use by citizens symbolize the Shaping of a Future of even more globalized, secured and rapid exchanges.
In such future, trust is the corner stone of the social cohesion and technology is what makes it feasible. Trust between all actors (public actors, civil society, private actors) and between country-nations made possible thanks to the development of a revolutionary technology: Blockchain. Created along with Bitcoin in 2009, the shared ledger technology, named by extension “Blockchain”, is what allows users all around the world to exchange values using internet meanwhile such a thing was impossible before. Therefore, internet governance is at stake, and to ensure it, a global cooperation preceded by a global discussion must be in order.
Thus, this conference: “Blockchain technology and the use of cryptocurrencies: a revolution of trust in global economic exchanges?” intend to discuss the evolution of Internet (evolving to a 3.0 era) but most importantly, the consequences of this evolution on a political daily basis and the implication of the new uses developed for people all around the world. It will tackle the policy issues of the democratization and the regulation of crypto-currencies, the renewal of trust in societies and the global economic system, the means to take governments and regulating institutions accountable for their choices, and the place of states and individuals (citizens) in the monetary governance while discussing the differences between North and South Countries in uses, trust, values, inequalities and regulations.

The points of view will vary, from civil society’s actor: crypto-enthusiasts, human studies/banking and finance experts and authors, to private sector’s actor: entrepreneurs and engineers, without forgetting public sector’s actors: congressperson, this conference will try to reflect with the most accuracy, the ongoing debate and movements within this eco-system while exploring common grounds between these different stakeholders.

Tag 1: Digital Economy
Tag 2: Emerging Technologies (Blockchain, Crypto-currencies)
Tag 3: #TechForGood

Format: 

Round Table - 90 Min

Interventions: 

M. Takkal Bataille and M. Favier (co-authors of “Bitcoin, la monnaie acéphale – co-founders of “le Cercle du Coin”) will bring a more academic point of view on the subject with their deep knowledge of the crypto-currencies history, scene and actors to provide the audience with a brief but thorough explanation of the evolution of such technology, its advantages/disadvantages and its amplitude.
M. Millon (CTO, Occi & Reward Protocol) will be able to enlighten the audience on the more technical and technological aspects of these innovations (blockchain and crypto-currencies) and explain the extend of its use, showing how revolutionary and disruptive they seem to be.
Mrs Balva (CEO, Blockchain Partner) will provide a more entrepreneurial and strategic point of view and bring her knowledge on the crypto-enterprises eco-system and major private actors.
M. Person (Congressman, representing Paris) will represent the point of view of the public sector, and will provide his knowledge of institutions, governance, policies and politics to enlighten the discussion regarding the regulation aspect.

Diversity: 

Currently, we are forming a panel of speakers which would include major actors of the crypto-currency scene, experts in their respective fields with various background and gender. Each stakeholder representing a fundamental aspect of this eco-system: academic, private and public sectors; theoretical, ideological, technological. Moreover, in terms of age and generations, there are various profiles whom points of view will enrich the debate. Our organizing team enrich this diversity with the presence of members from developed and developing countries. Finally, we will also encourage a broad participation of the audience (both onsite and online) in order to have various profiles represented in the questions asked.

Blockchain technology and the use of cryptocurrencies: a revolution of trust in global economic exchanges?

Subject’s frames: crypto-currencies, blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum, trust in trade, developed countries, developing countries, digital economy, "tech for good"

• Internet Governance Forum "Round Table" Workshop (12-14 November 2018);
• Duration: 90 minutes
o Time available on each subject/part of the description:20mn
- 10mn of presentation by the experts;
- 10mn of Q&A and debate between the onsite/online participants and the discussants;
• The questions displayed represent indications of the discussion and will provide a basic of questions to orientate the debate but not a compulsory order to follow;

Goals:
• Promoting the Blockchain and the crypto-currencies while highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of these two innovations;
• Explaining clearly the underlying technological innovation and the history of these two innovations;
• Discussing the place (current & future) of states in monetary governance;
• Laying the theoretical foundations for a desirable regulation (at the French, European and international levels);
• Discussing differences in uses between North / South countries;

Introduction: Presentation of the speakers, the agenda of the session and the context of the discussion by the moderator. (5mn)

1st part of the discussion: Preliminary explanations on the Blockchain, crypto-currencies (origins, operation, aim & scale). (20mn)

• Blockchain, crypto-currencies, what is it & what is it for? – Presentation 10mn
o How was Bitcoin created and by whom? What technology is it based on?
o What is a protocol technology?
o Is the Blockchain really a revolution?
o What is the difference between a cryptocurrency, the foundation at work for its development and the company that supports it?
o Are crypto-currencies just a way to get rich very quickly?

Q&A’s (10mn)

2nd part of the discussion: Debate on the questioning of the prerogative of states over the currency. (20mn)

• Are decentralization & disintermediation the solutions to the crisis of confidence that governments and the world economic system are currently experiencing?
o Is the dollar a Ponzi scheme? Can we still place our trust in the international monetary system of Bretton Woods?
o What innovations bring Blockchain and crypto-projects in the way of trading (value) and creating trust in trade?
o Can cryptocurrencies ever compete with fiduciary currencies?
o What role for international institutions and citizens-users in the emergence of these two phenomena?

Q&A’s (10mn)

3rd part of the discussion: Discussion on the need to regulate crypto-currencies and to supervise the development and reinforcement of uses of the Blockchain. (20mn)

• Should governments and regulatory institutions be wary of this digital competition or encourage its development? – Presentation 10mn
o What tax on the gains made with crypto-currencies?
o How to regulate the ecosystem and the actors of the crypto-economy without harming innovation?
o Which actors and institutions are best placed to frame this disruptive field of the digital economy?
o How to democratize the advantageous uses of crypto-currencies while controlling the disadvantages associated with its development?

Q&A’s (10mn)

4th part of the discussion: Discussion on the contrast in the use and adoption of North / South countries. (20mn)
• Are users in developing countries more in need of cryptocurrencies while those in developed countries are trying to speculate on more than using them? – Presentation 10mn
o Basically, who needs cryptocurrencies? Do they serve these same people? (Difference here between serving: utility / serving: bringing value (wealth through speculation & surplus value);
o Does the deep lack of trust in the institutions of developing countries make it necessary to democratize cryptocurrencies in these economies?
o Is the Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies a means of endowing inhabitants of developing countries with financial rights (at lower cost and more efficiently)?
o Can these two innovations change the lives of their users for the better?

Q&A’s (10mn)

Conclusion - Opening: Are Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies at the forefront of a totally digitized new economic system? (If so, what form would it take? Will it reproduce the inequalities currently found in the "standard" economic system?) (Expert & Moderators - 5mn)

Discussion Facilitation: 

We use the format of the “roundtable” to provide the audience with the maximum of accurate, detailed and useful information they can get. However, to ensure the discussion between the audience and the experts, we will allow questions to be asked during each part of the discussion right after a brief presentation of the matters have been provided by the experts. Our moderator will take questions from the onsite participants (with microphones circulating in the room) and benefit from the support of the online moderator to ask questions on behalf of the online participant.
Moreover, the organizing team and the speakers will discuss the key subjects of the conference online in the leadup to the IGF and will encourage their audience on social media and their own networks to participate to the online discussions, in order to collect their remarks and questions, which will be included in the discussion as questions of remarks from the moderator (who will specify the origin of it). We will also monitor the #IGF2018 and Workshop hashtags to incorporate comments and questions into the discussion with the help of a “Social Media Moderator/Community Manager”.

Online Participation: 

Our session will be open to online participants who will be considered as equal to onsite participants and will be encouraged to join the discussion by the online moderator who will regularly comment, sump up what has been said and raise questions from the online audience. We will make sure the facility and assistance are available for those who would like to attend online and that the enjoy the inclusiveness of our workshop.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678