“Blockchain itself should not be regulated – it’s just a technology.” – Noelle Acheson, Coindesk

Blockchain Summit London, taking place on the 28th of November at Olympia Conference Centre, is set to be the leading one day conference and exhibition dedicated to the impact of Blockchain on industry.

One of the 60 plus speakers attending to share and discuss at the Blockchain Summit is Noelle Acheson, Editorial Producer at Coindesk. After 10 years in the financial world of corporate finance, stock market analysis and fund management in London, Toronto and Madrid, in 2000 Noelle set up one of the first e-commerce businesses in Spain. She sold it at the end of 2013, and now spends her time researching and writing about blockchain and the impact it will have on how the economy works.

Noelle, who will be exploring opportunities for applications beyond cryptocurrencies, completed the speaker Q&A:

1.          Could you explain the work that you’re doing with blockchain technology?

CoinDesk is the leading news source for the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors. We provide up-to-date information on industry trends, development milestones and innovative projects, as well as exclusive interviews and thorough data. Our blockchain primers are among the most-used introductions in the sector, our research reports offer industry insights and statistics, and our price charts and APIs are increasingly used by investors and other media around the world.


2.          What benefits do you think blockchain will bring to your industry?

We are seeing a growing hunger for reliable information on cryptocurrency innovations and blockchain trials that goes beyond the hype so prevalent in mainstream media. We are also witnessing an increasing sophistication among our readers – the evolution since the early heady days of cryptocurrency idealism has been fascinating, and encouraging.

While the amount of coverage our sector is receiving from the mainstream media has exploded, we expect (hope) to see increasing rigor in reporting, and a more thoughtful evaluation of trends and novelty.


3.       Do you think enterprise is ready to take full advantage of blockchain? Why/ why not?

No, nowhere near. In part, the barriers are cultural – resistance to change, lack of understanding of the technology at decision-making level, aversion to risk. There are also structural obstacles – complicated systems, lack of resources and regulatory uncertainty.

What enterprise (in general) is doing is exploring the possibilities, either alone or in collaboration with sector peers. This is, for now, a sensible approach, as it gives the technologists time to hone the technology, business leaders time to understand the implications, and regulators time to do the best they can to make sure there won’t be any unpleasant surprises further down the road.


4.       Which industry/ industries do you think will be most impacted by blockchain?

Capital markets. Recent years have seen significant innovation in investment vehicles and strategies, but the technology underlying the transmission rails is still relatively antiquated. Tightening regulations and increasing volumes are placing ever more demanding requirements on financial institutions, in some instances negatively affecting liquidity. Furthermore, the inefficient process of reconciliation, as well as the replication of data transmission, add cost to the already-squeezed margins of security settlement.

Significant amounts of work are ongoing in this area, however, with some notable projects due to go live in early 2018. That will give us all a chance to witness the rollout of new processes, with a view to extending the benefits across the financial sector and beyond.

The task is huge, though, not just due to the size of global financial markets. Also at stake are the livelihoods of some infrastructure providers, and the cost and complexity of adjusting such extended and intertwined settlement processes will be staggering.

With change, though, comes opportunity. The increasing globalisation and sophistication of investors both large and small requires a new infrastructure capable of reducing costs, increasing transparency and facilitating compliance with an ever-changing web of rules.


5.       Where do you think the biggest opportunities for applications beyond cryptocurrencies lie?

Capital markets, trade finance and supply chain management – all three of them are sectors crucial to the world economy, yet all three are plagued by inefficiencies and errors.


6.       How are partnerships contributing to growth in the blockchain field?

Since blockchain technology allows decentralized data sharing, it makes sense that it be explored in collaboration with others. In fact, a private blockchain that only involves one entity might as well be a database – it misses the point of distributed trust.

The partnerships could be within sectors (horizontal) – such as banks sharing KYC information – or up and down a service (vertical) – such as all participants involved in the shipment of produce from one point of the globe to another. Some blockchain partnerships will be bilateral, others will incorporate many entities. What is certain is that blockchain technology will, by encouraging and facilitating partnerships, slowly change the siloed world of business.


7.       Are there any applications of blockchain that you’ve seen so far that have been particularly impressive?

Blockchain sightings “in the wild” (ie. actual real-world use) are rare. Many headlines announce that so-and-so is “using” blockchain to “xyz”, when what they really mean is that so-and-so has tested blockchain for xyz use case. Not the same thing.

Of the various test cases that have recently been pronounced “successes”, the ones that I find particularly intriguing are securities issuance and settlement, trade finance and supply chain management (including food safety). However, between successful testing to successful implementation is a chasm of hard work, deeper analysis, contingency planning and even more testing.


8.       Where do restrictions in the technology currently exist and how can these be overcome?

The restrictions in the technology at the moment outweigh the opportunities – and by “restrictions”, I mean the ones inherent in the technology itself (security testing, interoperability, scaling, etc.) and in society (resistance to change, complexity, the challenge of rewiring established processes, etc.). This is totally normal when it comes to technological progress. Change is difficult.

And, in most cases, it should be. We are looking at a generational opportunity to re-think how the fundamental fabric of society works, starting with finance and capital markets, and eventually redefining identity, redesigning education and potentially reimagining social media and the sharing of content. It should be difficult to change these, to encourage us to carefully develop, gingerly test and gradually implement. In most of the fields that blockchain wants to reform, we simply cannot afford systemic failures.


9.       How do you see DLT developing in the next 18 months?

We’re going to see many more proofs-of-concept emerge, with some entering production. We will also see more consortia emerge, and the existing ones getting even bigger and busier.


10.   How and to what extent should blockchain be regulated?

Blockchain itself should not be regulated – it’s just a technology. What will need to be regulated are the various use cases, and the urgency with which this is dealt with depends entirely on the sector, use case, jurisdiction and regulator in question.

If, for instance, blockchain were to make currency trading more efficient, financial regulators would need to make sure that the relevant rules were still being upheld, and that the new technology did not introduce any new vulnerabilities. If blockchain were to make identity more resilient, data protection regulators would need to ringfence certain applications. The regulation will depend on the function, and rather than new rules being written into law, we are more likely to see existing rules adapted.


About Blockchain Summit

Blockchain Summit’s unique agenda has been specifically created to maximise the busy schedule of the senior executive. 

In only one day out of the office, hear from visionary keynotes, relevant case studies, and get to grips with the subjects that matter most to your business with our “how-to” industry-specific Labs. With over 60 leading speakers, come and discover exactly how industry visionaries are breaking new ground within Blockchain.

Amid unrivalled content, Blockchain Summit London offers exceptional networking opportunities for attendees to connect with industry leaders and innovators. Do you have a burning question or need something clarified? Use our “Ask the Experts” service to ensure you come away with all the knowledge you need to help redefine your company’s technology boundaries. 

Click here to register now to reserve your place for THE Blockchain event of 2017.

For more information please call Georgia Deery on +44 (0) 330 335 3900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..