On March 13, 2018, Allen & Overy hosted the 2018 Crypto Challenge at the Tramsschapp Centre Culturel. In grandiose theatre style, Marine Tarditi (aka Cryptowoman), Senior Associate, and Franz Kerger (aka Cryptoman), Associate, guided attendees through a series of cryptocurrency information sessions with speakers from Mangrove Capital Partners, bitFlyer, SGH Capital and the LHoFT, among others, as well as the Prime Minister Xavier Bettel himself. The event was organized in partnership with Silicon Luxembourg and the LHoFT.
(Featured Image: Michael Jackson, Partner at Mangrove Capital Partners, on stage during the Crypto Challenge conference / Image Credit © Marion Dessard)
Crypto Challenge aimed to illuminate the scope, financial feasibility, risks, and market potential for cryptocurrencies in Luxembourg and Europe at large. Almost everyone has heard about Bitcoin, but many still see it as a mystery. Who controls Bitcoin? Can it really compete with government-backed currencies? Is it safe, and where do I put my crypto coins? Most importantly: what are the risks?
Michael Jackson, Partner at Mangrove Capital Partners, former COO of Skype and Non Executive Director of Blockchain, discussed the need for increased support in Luxembourg. He recalled a story of David Irvine, the man developing the “new internet,” who couldn’t seem to find venture capital support due to an admittedly elongated period before return on investment. David turned to selling tokens to everyday investors, who would then profit from returns after a 10-year period – a sort of diversified crowdfunding. This is what we now call Initial Coin Offering, or ICO.
Unfortunately, Jackson continued, despite Europe’s leadership in ICO development (which spiked over 6 Billion Euros at the end of 2017) Luxembourg still lacks the resources to support this sector in-country. There is a lack of Transfer Agents for ICOs, Digital Asset Custodians, Marketing Consultants and ICO Crowd funders. Jackson’s message? Young Luxembourgish minds need to get going.
In ironic fashion, bitFlyer, the world’s largest Bitcoin Exchange and 2017 debutant in Luxembourg, discussed its trading platform and some of the nuances associated with individual Bitcoin management. Andy Bryant, COO of bitFlyer, discussed different types of Bitcoin ownership, placement, and security. For example, private keys (essentially the password to access owned bitcoins) are not secure against loss or theft. If you lose your key, you lose your money! Andy also made a point to mention that mainstream adoption is coming, so potential investors should think quickly.
Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel took the stage before leaving for London and discussions about Brexit. He announced his vision for cryptocurrencies in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is an “Emerging Digital Hub,” he said. “Nearly 10% of Luxembourgers already own cryptocurrencies.” “But we need human capital,” he continued, echoing Jackson’s message from earlier. The Prime Minister urged companies to attract employees from both “Fin” and “Tech” industries, which would allow the growth of ICO business in Luxembourg and a new age of Fintech in Luxembourg.
The takeaway: cryptocurrencies could revolutionize trade, ownership, and cross-border economic relationships. Luxembourg is lagging, but its young minds still have time to build the necessary business infrastructure and flourish in the futurization of financial power and transfers.