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Blockchain conference coming to New Zealand

Mark Pascall, Guest post. 23 March 2017, 11:19 am

On 8 and 9 May, 2017 some of the biggest names in the blockchain world will be in Auckland to take part in what is turning out to be one of the most exciting blockchain events in Australasia, the Blockchain NZ 2017 conference as part of Techweek.

The event will have more than 20 international speakers, 500 people, and includes keynote presentations from Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum (2016 Fortune magazine 40 under 40) and Andreas Antonopoulos, author of numerous blockchain/bitcoin books including Mastering Bitcoin and The Internet of Money.

This year's conference - organised by BlockchainLabs.NZ, in association with the Blockchain association of New Zealand and supported by numerous industry groups including the Australian Digital Currency & Commerce Association - follows on from last year's sell out Ethereum.NZ event held in Wellington and Auckland.

The blockchain, with it's best known implementations being Bitcoin and Ethereum, has had a turbulent few years with bitcoin's demise being predicted many times by the mainstream press and one of the highest profile Ethereum-based crowd capital raising project in history "The DAO" being hacked. However, the inconvenient truth for governments and organisations whose business model depends on maintaining centralised control of information/money/power and acting as a trusted intermediary (i.e. most of our global commerce system) is that the blockchain is not going away. 

One indication of this gradual validation of the technology is that, although still very volatile, the value of Bitcoin and Ether as a currency/asset class has seen incredible rises over the last year. At the time this article is being written Bitcoin has increased by 83% and Ether 240% in the last six months against the US dollar).

The really exciting part of the blockchain story is the fact that platforms like Ethereum now give software developers a way to fundamentally disrupt existing business models by replacing trusted intermediaries with "smart contract" code. Banking without banks, insurance without insurance companies, Ubering without Uber, buying/selling without Ebay/Amazon, energy trading without energy retailers. There are blockchain projects underway in all these areas. The revolution has begun.

With the recent announcement of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance last week by some the biggest players in the industry (including Microsoft, Intel, Accenture), Ethereum is gaining momentum fast as a key platform for building powerful decentralised blockchain based applications. We are very excited to have Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, keynote at the conference.

As a sign of maturity for the technology an Australian group has been selected by the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) to spearhead a technical committee developing standards for blockchain tech. Standards Australia announced its leadership role on the committee, revealing it will oversee members from 35 countries on the effort. The ISO, founded in the 1940s, is composed of representatives from more than 160 national standards-setting bodies.

Blockchain projects in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia and New Zealand (as with the rest of the world) the blockchain is moving at an incredible pace with new projects being announced weekly across every business domain. A recent report by the 120,000 member Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand highlighted a number of local projects including:

Full Profile. Launching a trial using a variation of blockchain to track grains through the supply chain. Emma Weston will be presenting at the Blockchain NZ conference.

Webjet. Using blockchain between its own divisions with smart contracts to document a hotel booking, creating an indisputable record where any subsequent changes can be clearly lodged. Graham Anderson & Mital Kayaiy from Webjet will also be presenting at the conference.

Power Ledger. Using blockchain to enable energy producers and consumers to trade their energy directly. Currently being trialled by Vector in New Zealand.

ASX. Pursuing blockchain technology to reduce the reconciliation related expense of keeping multiple data records.

Other projects in the region include work by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to look at putting qualifications on the blockchain. Sue Suckling, chair of the boards at Callaghan Innovation and NZQA recently gave a passionate and controversial presentation on the Future of Education at the Singularity University conference in New Zealand. We are hoping to get NZQA to present at the conference. Nyriad is another fascinating "below the radar" New Zealand based company using blockchain technology to create new generation of hyperscale storage processing technology. We are working on or aware of around 10 other early-stage projects in New Zealand.

Tickets will go on sale Friday 24th March and, as last year, are expected to sell out. There will be a limited number of early bird tickets. To be informed when they go on sale please pre-register on the website www.TheBlockchain.NZ. For the latest information please check our Twitter (@blockchainlabnz)

ITP members can get a 10% discount by using the code ITPpromo when booking.

Mark Pascall is the director of 3months and


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