World Economic Forum's Sheila Warren: Smart Contracts Won't 'Upend Legal Sector'

  • World Economic Forum's head of blockchain efforts, Sheila Warren has said that central bank digitial currencies (CBDCs) could have legitimate use cases.
  • She also thinks blockchain technology will be integrated into the core stack of technologies in the next 10 years.

Sheila Warren, the head of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) efforts at the World Economic Forum (WEF), a Switzerland-based non-profit organization “committed to improving the state of the world,” recently shared her views and insights with CryptoGlobe regarding central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Warren, a Harvard law school graduate, said that the WEF “believes there is a use case for CBDCs.” She remarked:

We are actively tracking CBDC experiments worldwide. We have painstakingly created a trusted community of (approximately) 40 central banks from [throughout the world], including frontier and G7 economies, that are sharing learnings and findings, and we will be shortly be issuing a whitepaper related to this work. Threshold issues include know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) [requirements].

She added that the WEF was “following e-KYC efforts to see how they might support CDBC issuance.” Warren further noted that the WEF aims to “surface principles that could guide responsible development of CBDCs.”

Interestingly, Warren believes there’s also “a different use case for cryptocurrency, and we should not underestimate its importance even as we acknowledge the importance of CBDC experimentation.”

When asked about what role, if any, smart contracts would have in the foreseeable future, Warren remarked: “I do not think that smart contracts will upend the legal sector, for the record, but I do think they will enable efficiencies in markets like insurance and travel (as examples).”

Blockchain Use Cases: Supply Chain, ID Verification, Document Authentication

In response to a question regarding the potential role of DLT in future economies, Warren stated that supply chain management processes could be handled more efficiently on a distributed ledger-based software system. According to the former VP of alliances and development at TechSoup, other potential use cases for DLT such as ID verification may not be so simple to implement. She explained:

I think there are additional considerations around beneficial ownership of data that make the ID verification space very complicated, but I do think DLT can help address some concerns of the responsible data community once the tech is a bit further along. The same applies to document authentication, with zero knowledge proofs potentially providing an enhanced privacy layer that has been missing.

Elaborating on the role organizations like the World Economic Forum can play in the responsible advancement and adoption of DLT, Warren said: 

Our goal is to focus on the development of policy that can shepherd responsible use of DLT, mitigating risks while amplifying opportunities. In many cases, the technical build itself is not hugely complicated; it’s consideration of the accompanying policies that serves as the barrier to wider adoption. In addition, as a truly neutral and objective participant in the ecosystem, the Forum can help bridge gaps in understanding that can pave the way for broader comfort, which can lead to adoption by large players such as governments or entire sectors.

She continued: “our view is that DLT is a foundational technology that when considered alongside other [4th Industrial Revolution] technologies like artificial intelligence (AI)/ machine learning (ML) or Internet of Things (IoT), can transform entire sectors in ways that benefit society.”

"Blockchain Is A Team Sport"

However, Warren believes emerging technologies might not be able to integrate into existing technological infrastructure “without a neutral shepherd focused on developing sector-wide cooperation.” She added: “As I often say, blockchain is a team sport, and the Forum is uniquely situated to facilitate the development of cooperative models of engagement that can realize the full potential of DLT."

When questioned about the potential impact of blockchain technology in the next 10 years, Warren said:

I think by then we will have stopped talking about blockchain technology, and it will be part of a tech stack that delivers a distributed, secure transaction record. I also think we will have sorted out smart contracts and they will be fairly ubiquitous, enabling efficiencies across many sectors. My hope is that we will have re-imagined economic and business models in a way that emphasizes stakeholder engagement rather than shareholder extraction, creating a more sustainable and balanced economic system for all.

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Coinbase Quietly Pulls the Plug on Its Cryptocurrency Bundle Product

Francisco Memoria

The San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has quietly pulled the plug on its Bundle product, which allowed users to buy a basket of cryptocurrencies with fiat.

According to an update on its FAQ page, the cryptocurrency exchange “deprecated” the Coinbase Bundle product, and all assets in it have been “redistributed to their respective individual asset wallets.”

The move, first spotted by Crypto Briefing, is believed to have been made because the product wasn’t a profitable one. Coinbase Bundle was launched back in September of last year to make it easier for investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, through a weighted basket of the cryptocurrencies the company then offered.

This means users could use a small amount of fiat to buy bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, and ethereum classic at once. Per the exchange itself, the bundle’s purpose was to “make buying more convenient and less overwhelming.”

At the time, the exchange also launched other features: Coinbase Learn and new asset pages.

The timing was off, however, as the product was launched during the bear market that saw the price of most cryptocurrencies drop well over 80%. Images shared on social media in December of 2018, when bitcoin hit its $3,200 low, showed investing $100 on Coinbase would’ve led to significant losses only a few months later.

As covered, Coinbase recently launched a service offering its users four free exclusive “trading signals,” in a bid to help its customers “independently create and manage their own crypto strategy.”

It’s worth noting Abra, a digital asset exchange and wallet provider,  launched a product packaging various cryptocurrencies into one at about the same time Coinbase launched its Bundle product. Abra’s product is its BIT10 token.