April 28, 2020Events and Conferences

5 Blockchain Trends to Watch at This Year’s Virtual NY Blockchain Week – May 2020

Hundreds of ecosystem leaders will discuss the latest crypto developments in front of global audiences May 6-20. Here’s what to look out for.
by ConsenSys

NY Blockchain Week 2020 will officially kick off next week in virtual form to allow audiences all over the world to tune into the biggest week of the year for the cryptosphere. Programming will be entirely online and free for all registrants, with globally accessible content. The week will launch with a virtual hackathon, co-hosted by Ethereal Summit, Gitcoin, and Consensus 2020, followed by Ethereal Virtual Summit and Consensus Distributed. If you haven’t secured your spot already, follow the links below to register for free:  

As usual in the blockchain ecosystem, everyone is working on everything at all layers of stack, as evidenced by the week’s 250+ speakers and wide-ranging discussions including Ethereum 2.0 milestones, DeFi applications, enterprise blockchain adoption, and more. Here are five topics in particular to pay attention to that we think will signal the biggest efforts in the blockchain space this year. 

1. What COVID-19 Means for the Future of Global Infrastructure

Many see this unique economic moment as an opportunity for the blockchain movement to position itself in the global consciousness as a more resilient alternative to existing systems, particularly monetary, financial, medical, and supply chain infrastructure. Crypto, like every other market, has been affected by the global economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the high availability of DeFi protocols through the market spikes in mid-March, as well as increasing demand for stablecoins and ETH’s economic bandwidth have many wondering about the correlation between traditional and crypto assets and where global market participants will search for safe havens in our ever-evolving risk landscape. 

The crisis might also catalyze digital asset adoption for institutional players seeking to streamline payment rails and improve banking access. A recent bulletin by the Bank for International Settlements noted that the need for increased financial access during COVID-19 could help accelerate the adoption of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs)

Finally, ConsenSys Health, in partnership with Gitcoin, Hyperledger, One Million Devs, and OpenMinded, has been running a STOP COVID-19 Hackathon to bring healthcare experts and Web3 developers together. The hackathon will run through the course of Blockchain Week and winners will be announced on May 18.

Related talks:

  • May 7 – Ethereal: “The Changing Crypto Narratives”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “CBDCs in the Age of COVID-19”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “COVID-19 and Technology Roundtable Discussion”
  • May 11 – Consensus: “Coronavirus, Blockchain, and the Meaning of Life”
  • May 11 – Consensus: “Yves Mersch on Central Bank Digital Currencies”
  • May 12 – Consensus: “The Future of Fiat: Central Bank Digital Currencies”
2. Preparing for Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0

Ethereum 2.0 development has been gaining momentum, reaching some major milestones in the past few weeks. Prysmatic Labs launched its Topaz Testnet on Friday, April 17, a fully configured Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 testnet. In anticipation of Ethereum 2.0’s proof of stake economics, the ConsenSys Codefi team will also walk through the fundamentals of staking ETH. Day 2 of Ethereal Virtual Summit is full of back-to-back Eth2 talks from leading ecosystem voices such as Ben Edgington (What’s New in Eth2), Evan Van Ness (Week in Ethereum), Danny Ryan (EF), and more.

Related talks:

  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Bringing Ethereum 2.0 to Phase 0 in 2020”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “The Ethereum 2.0 Staking Panel”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Got ETH? This Is How You Stake It”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “How Prysmatic Labs Is Building Eth 2.0”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “The Transition from Eth1 to Eth2”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Fireside Chat With SKALE Labs Co-Founders”
3. The Road to DeFi Mass Adoption

The decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem hit its $1B value-locked-in-DeFi milestone on February 6 of this year and has witnessed a growing trend of user overlap between protocols, made possible by the interoperability of Ethereum-based DeFi platforms. Many see DeFi as the golden child use case of blockchain technology, both because of its resonance with the core tenets of decentralization, transparency, and composability, and because of the ever-improving UX of DeFi apps, which have radically simplified onboarding for crypto newcomers. The no-loss, savings game PoolTogether even integrates with the Compound protocol’s interest-bearing Dai pool so one lucky participant can win all the interest earned from the prize pool.   

Another big development in the DeFi space has been the increasing decentralization of the Compound protocol. Earlier this month, the Compound team announced that community governance had officially replaced the admin. After public testing, the team will cede total governance to the community. 

Related talks:

  • May 7 – Ethereal: “The Open Finance Value Proposition”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “DeFi’s Difficult Conversations”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “Operating and Growing a DeFi Platform”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “Fireside Chat with the Founder of Compound”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Fireside Chat with Maker on the Future of DeF”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Bringing DeFi to 1 Billion People”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Breakout Innovations of DeFi”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Living on DeFi: How We Fight Back”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Fireside Chat With Wyre on the Future of DeFi”
  • May 13 – Consensus: “DeFi Deep Dive”
4. The Rise of Gaming on Ethereum

DeFi isn’t the only application that’s been capturing the interest of both dapp teams and users on Ethereum. Since the CryptoKitties boom in 2017, a range of other blockchain-based games have emerged on the market, including Gods Unchained, SkyWeaver, Axie Infinity, and Neon District (see the full list of Ethereum-based games on State of the Dapps). These games are poised to become powerful onramps to the blockchain ecosystem as they continue to scale and improve UX.

Related talks:

  • May 7 – Ethereal: “The History and Future of Prize-Linked Savings”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “The State of Gaming on Ethereum”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “Play-to-Earn Gaming”
  • May 7 – Ethereal: “Making a Hit Game on Ethereum in 2020”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “A Scalable STARK-Based Trading Platform for Gods Unchained”
5. Enterprise Interest in Mainnet

According to a recent Forrester Report commissioned by EY, which surveyed enterprise executives exploring blockchain solutions, 43% of executives are “somewhat likely” and 32% are “very likely” to use public blockchains in the future. Over the past year, the Ethereum developer community has made major strides building the privacy and permissioning capabilities that enterprises need, particularly around network access and transaction data. Last month’s announcement of the Baseline Protocol Initiative and Hyperledger Besu’s continued progress as a mainnet-compatible Ethereum client for enterprises (recently voted into active status) also bode well for the future of public blockchain adoption. 

Related talks:

  • May 8 – Ethereal: “Fireside Chat with Microsoft and PegaSys”
  • May 8 – Ethereal: “How Ethereum Is Breaking Ground With Enterprises”
  • May 12 – Consensus: “Programmable Money and the Future of Enterprise Blockchain”
  • May 12 – Consensus: “Launch an Enterprise Node, Build a Blockchain Consortium”
  • May 12 – Consensus: “Hyperledger”
Looking Back, Moving Forward

The ecosystem has come a far way since we recapped the 7 biggest trends from Blockchain Week 2019. The takeaways last year were about the need for antifragile systems, the rise of the DeFi narrative, the emergence of privacy solutions, and growing enterprise interest in blockchain solutions. Now our fragile, legacy systems are facing the stress-test of a lifetime; DeFi is not just a movement but a rich ecosystem of interoperating protocols; and enterprises are moving beyond blockchain PoCs and gearing up for mainnet. Who knows what one more year will bring in this propulsive space. 

Stay safe out there. We can’t wait to connect with you all next week.

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