On Wednesday, June 13th 2018, I've had the pleasure and privilege to attend "CryptoCompare MJAC London Blockchain Summit". In hindsight, it was a meritorious effort which brought together representatives from some of the most respected and reputed companies in the crypto space for the purpose of introducing new concepts, start-ups and ICOs. For someone who's spent most of the time doing online research and listening to podcasts, this had been a unique experience.
However, this article aims to take an unusual spin by focusing on those who were actually there but couldn't attend any of the meetings. It's about the individuals who do regular jobs and most likely wouldn't spare £100 a ticket. However, we must try to build a world of finance that's inclusive, inviting, and comprehensive to anyone who shows interest. After all, if we replicate what we claim to despise, then the revolution itself is pointless without doing much for the regular people.
#MJAC #CryptoCompare Keynote speaker @cburniske taking a look at #cryptoasset valuation models. #bitcoin #crypto— CryptoGlobe (@CryptoGlobeInfo) June 13, 2018
"Patterns emerge and tend to be respected by the market" - on @woonomic NVT ratios pic.twitter.com/skjKIauIpV
The Man Who Knew Unexpectedly Much
While the conference was great and featured insightful commentary on cryptocurrencies and the emerging blockchain-based innovation, I was yet to find something unique which was worth covering. Could I just do an overall analysis of the event and construct the piece from various tweets, quotes, and memorable moments? Sure, but I had been recently reminded about the importance of building communities in crypto from Andreas Antonopolous.
This time, I got lucky for being Romanian, as I overheard two security guards speaking in our native language and I decided to stop by and say hello. That's how I met Cristian Cotirta, a fairly tall and imposing young man who was unusually interested in cryptoassets. As it turns out, he was well aware of the discussion panels and almost seemed as if he wanted to participate them. But to him it wasn't as easy as just entering the main conference room to hear the talks about regulation policies - he had a clear job to do and couldn't satisfy this intellectual curiosity of his.
That's when it hit me: the employees from the venue were all within the demographic description of the regular crypto investor/enthusiast. Could this mean that even the people we usually overlook in our shallow contextual social hierarchization actually know a little something about Bitcoin and might have bought a few Satoshis?
In the case of Cristian (who was also from the Bucharest area and happened to have grown up in the same neighbourhood where I've lived during my studies) I discovered quite an impressively-diversified Binance portfolio which he was regularly checking out in the Blockfolio app. He hadn't invested large amounts, but bought small quantities of major coins, as well as promising tokens. OmiseGO, BTC, LTC and ETH. Cristian was more of a crypto conservative than myself!
Crypto for the People: This encounter made me do further research about the employees from the venue and their views on cryptocurrencies. And my discoveries were nothing short of impressive.
During the afterparty I decided to focus my attention on the bartenders who were cheerfully giving away free beers to the participants. I got lucky on my first try: 23 year-old Kyle has told me that he acquired 1 Litecoin for £173 and has been holding it in his wallet ever since. He seemed pretty interested in the dynamics of the market and wanted to learn a little more about the way the technology works, and to me it was a big mind opener. Even though it's big money which pumps the price and 2018 is supposed to be the year when financial institutions enter the market, the ones who really matter are the end-users who lay the foundation of our new decentralized economy. It's a lot more likely for private individuals to believe in the technology and hope for a paradigm shift in our financial system than for banks or investment companies which mostly care for a great ROI (return of investment).
It didn't take me too long to find another venue employee who did some crypto investments. Jan, a co-worker of Kyle's, has also confessed to have bought some Bitcoin at some point, but didn't want to go into details.
In my mind I've made a connection with the early novels of George Orwell. He is well known for making witty commentaries about totalitarianism and failed revolutions. However, his novels "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "Burmese Days" are an excellent reflection of the working class. Instead of writing about the lives of noblemen, he gave us accounts about the struggles of regular people, their unquestionable wisdom, and their often-overlooked good nature.
To me, speaking to Nelly, Cristian, Kyle, Jan, and everyone else felt a lot more satisfying and productive than inquiring about the sustainability of an ICO or meeting an executive of a big crypto company. Spreading adoption and helping others appropriate the ethos of decentralization has to be the most important part of being involved in this revolutionary world. They might disagree with some parts, but that's how we constantly receive feedback and improve our implementations. They might enter in hopes of making gains, but in the process, they will also discover the meaning of decentralized, secure and censorship resistant money.
The Jean-Paul Sartre Conclusion
While sitting at a table on Rue Saint-Germain, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, observed how a waiter was being a little too much of a waiter and not enough of a human being. He was moving as if he was trying to please everybody but didn't reflect any side of his personality. And in many ways, his thoughts and commentary are very relevant for what we expect from employees who work in services: we often forget that they're human beings just like us and only see them for their utility in the context.
If we want to build a fairer, more transparent, and overall better society with blockchain and decentralized technology, then we must learn to be kinder, more inclusive, and less judgmental in our choices. It's very likely that the people who sell us beverages, cut our hair, or do our plumbing are more than interested in the Bitcoin phenomenon, but lack the time and resources to do further research. Sometimes a link to an informative (and hopefully unbiased) article or a borrowed book can make all the difference and generate more adoption among the audience Satoshi himself had in mind when he created bitcoin.
If we decided to be genuine and authentic with each other, we could probably solve lots of communication, diplomatic, and even educational issues that we have in the world. But for now, if our purpose is to increase crypto adoption and show everyone how Bitcoin payments work, a little open-mindedness can work miracles.
Hello Cristian, Kyle, Jan, Nelly, and everyone else working in the Old Billingsgate building! Hope you're reading this and make good use of your books.