Circle CEO & Luxembourg Minister Clash at Blockchain Debate

Circle’s Jeremy Allaire and Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna discussed the future of blockchain at the World Economic Forum. Regulation and blockchain’s future were major topics at the Unblocking the Blockchain event at this week’s World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China.

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Conspicuous Differences of Opinion

Pierre-Gramegna Allaire
Pierre Gramegna

The hour-long debate, featuring Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, Everledger’s Leanne Kemp, and Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna, showed how both industry specialists and outsiders view the Blockchain and its potential in 2016.

“I think we’re really close… as more and more companies… connect to the Bitcoin blockchain to make the movement of value work the way the internet works,” Allaire said about the short-term realizations of the blockchain in daily life.

The discussion was tempered by Gramegna, who commented from the perspective of legislators and traditional finance in a way which often jarred with his fellow speakers.

“If payments can be transferred for free… what does that mean for financial institutions?” he asked in response to Allaire’s assertion that free movement of value would occur globally within five years. “As a country… I worry what is going to happen to them.”

He continued:

If all these things become commodities, meaning they’re coming for free … many commodities are utilities … and do not come for free … somewhere in the chain, someone will have to pay for it.

Gramegna admitted he was not a Blockchain specialist, but that Luxembourg had nonetheless been “innovative” in its use of regulation governing cryptocurrency in particular.

“No one knows or knew how to regulate virtual currencies because they come from somewhere else,” he explained, “and nevertheless we have decided to say that virtual currencies have to abide by the same regulations as traditional currencies.”

Allaire: Confidence over Concern

Bitcoin.com_Jeremy Allaire
Jeremy Allaire

Allaire in response to Gramegna’s concerns over central banks and money issuance gave a more optimistic view of a Blockchain-based future.

“We now are living in a world where we have non-sovereign money; it’s global and has a lot of advantages over sovereign money, and that’s just going to continue to grow,” he said.

Allaire’s optimism is likely well-placed, Circle having this month announced the closing of a $60 million series D funding round and expansion into China.

“It may be that government monopolies around money change over the next twenty years as we adopt non-state, non-sovereign currencies,” he said.

I think institutionally the governance models around this are going to have to change.

The debate itself was moderated by Swiss bank UBS’s CEO Axel Lehmann. UBS had been an active researcher of Blockchain capabilities but lost its main architect, CIO Oliver Bussmann, in March.

Images via Alan Mak blog,