Despite record snowfall in the region, a dedicated group of technology enthusiasts, business owners and cryptocurrency supporters gathered in Boston to pitch bitcoin to a new generation of developers this Wednesday.
Hosted by the Bitcoin Foundation, the DevCore event series is intended to support the trade organisation’s now primary goal of fostering the open-source development of bitcoin. The event follows the Bitcoin Foundation’s renewed emphasis on this mission, and its shift away from policy and outreach initiatives.
A wide range of speakers featured at the event, including the Bitcoin Foundation’s executive director Patrick Murck, chief scientist Gavin Andresen and core developer Cory Fields; Circle Internet Financial’s Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville; Gem CEO Micah Winkelspecht; and James Gatto and Marco Santori from New York-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
During one notable panel, Neville told the audience that both present and future cryptocurrency developers should consider focusing efforts on creating mechanisms by which value – and trust in that value – can be exchanged more reliably, stating:
“We have all these protocols for communication and commerce, but the layers missing have been a set of protocols and formats for value exchange and protocols and formats for identity.”
The event also featured workshops by the non-profit CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium (C4), which debuted a proposed set of standards for companies that handle customer funds.
Bitcoin evangelist and author Andreas Antonopoulos was present at the event, giving a short talk on bitcoin and later signing copies of his latest book. Later, Blockchain developer Kevin Houk led a session on API development.
The event is the first of a series, with other meetings to take place this year around the world.
Legal risks outlined for new developers
Gatto and Santori outlined two areas – patents and securities law – which new developers, particularly those who are considering the creation and issuance of tokens through an initial coin offering, should look at closely before pushing further on a particular project.
The two later conducted informal sessions with developers throughout the conference.
Acknowledging the shared hatred among open-source developers toward the idea of patents, Gatto pushed attendees to consider patents as a defensive tool to protect their work.
“I encourage you, even those who think patents are evil, think about the good side of it,” he suggested.
Santori cautioned that regulators are actively looking at how tokens are being issued, and said that developers need to tread carefully or risk eliciting attention from agencies like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“If there is some use beside mere speculation, then you’re working in the right direction,” he said. “The SEC is going to want to see immediate, non-speculative, non-investment uses.”
During another session, C4’s Michael Perklin and Joshua McDougall walked through the company’s proposed CryptoCurrency Security Standard and explained how, as it stands today, companies in the exchange and wallet service ecosystems are relying on asymmetrical approaches to security.
This approach, they argued, creates systematic risks and leads to potential roadblocks for future development.
Perklin positioned the proposal as being modeled after others of its kind, arguing that auditors need both a standard to base their assessments on and a frame of reference when looking at companies in an experiemntal and constantly evolving space.
“[The standard] applies to businesses and cryptocurrency systems that need to store bitcoin, store litecoin or any cryptocurrency. Without this, everyone was left to do security on their own,” he said.
Perklin later told CoinDesk that demand for a security standard exists among companies in the bitcoin space that handle client funds. He pointed to the exchange ecosystem in particular as being especially receptive of the proposal, and said he hopes the comment period to follow will yield additional feedback that improves the proposal.
Photos via Stan Higgins for CoinDesk; Boston image via Shutterstock