What a year it has been. Since the last gathering of , widely considered to be blockchain’s largest event, bitcoin () hit $10,000 for the first time and then neared $20,000. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies captured the public’s imagination and faced new scrutiny from policymakers.
Most important, the embrace of the technology by the enterprise continues apace.
It’s the fourth year of Consensus. Despite by the founders of Ethereum (), omiseGo () and cardano (), attendance during next week’s event is expected to top 4,500, up from an estimated 2,700 last year and up tenfold from the first Consensus in 2015. Here are a few things to know about this year’s event.
1. The Big Apple wants to be blockchain central.
This year’s Consensus gained a new co-host, the Economic Development Corporation of New York City, which has dubbed a more extensive series of events “,” including a job fair, hackathon and a broad range of other events, many targeted at specific sectors including the law, finance, artists and chief digital officers of established companies. (Schedules of additional free or lost-cost events throughout the city are available .)
Major players expected to announce or promote enterprise-focused blockchain solutions include Deloitte, ConsenSys, SAP SE, Accenture and IBM, among others.
“The goal is really to plant that flag and send a very clear message that we want to work with you, want to support you, and we ultimately want NYC to be the global capital for blockchain,” Anthony Hogrebe, NYCEDC’s senior vice president, told .
There’s even a Consensus session called “What will it take for you to love New York again?” a reference to the , the state’s controversial effort to create its own regulatory framework for virtual currency.
2. For better or worse, government interest is here to stay.
The conference speakers will include such government officials as Premier of Bermuda E. David Burt, who has made no secret of the self-governing British territory’s ; U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R.–Ariz., a member of the , which focuses on the technology’s potential for government use, identity management and health care; European Parliament member Eva Kaili, an outspoken advocate for innovation within the European Union; and James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Also on the agenda are representatives of several major U.S. regulatory bodies, including Commissioner Brian Quintenz of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Robert A. Cohen, chief of the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement cyber unit, which was created last year with a focus on ICOs and cryptocurrency conduct along with broader cybersecurity issues.
3. There are big plans for the enterprise.
Major players expected to announce or promote enterprise-focused blockchain solutions at Consensus include Deloitte, ConsenSys, SAP SE, Accenture and IBM, among others.
Along with the ongoing cross-sector emphasis on blockchain’s role in supply chain management, there’s also a growing interest by large and small companies around industry-specific needs, including health care, electricity, insurance, ports and shipping hubs, public sector technology, real estate and automakers.
4. Some things don’t change except the pace of change.
Many of Consensus’ sessions focus on the big picture: the new economic forces the blockchain is creating and the attendant challenges involving privacy, regulation and scale. But it’s clear something has changed. One of the event’s featured speakers, Square and Twitter co-founder and Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, bitcoin would become the internet’s single global currency, “probably over 10 years, but it could go faster.”