Consensus 2017 Recap: Panels Cast Wide Net for Blockchain Discussions

A look back at some of the fascinating and diverse panels that took place at Consensus 2017 this week.

AccessTimeIconMay 28, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:23 p.m. UTC
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CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 blockchain conference was alive with activity last week, so don’t feel bad if you missed some of the talks and presentations that took place.

In addition to our main stage sessions, Consensus 2017 featured a range of panels that honed in on all the opportunities and challenges in the space today. The Consensus 2017 panel circuit included discussions on everything from healthcare to trade finance, Hyperledger to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and blockchain tokens to ICOs.

Didn’t catch a panel you were hoping to see? Read on for a roundup of CoinDesk’s on-the-ground coverage from the three-day event.

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According to one panel, what the blockchain space really needs is honesty.

As a number of startups, enterprises, governments and regulators explore and weigh the technology, sharing data about successes – and the failures – is an imperative, argued Rose Chan, founder of the World Bank’s blockchain working group.

"We need more data, we need more pilots and more trials. It is better for the entire ecosystem to be honest about what is not working," said Chan.

Mike Pisa, policy fellow at Center for Global Development – a US think tank focused on international development – echoed that point.

"This is a nascent field, and the startups in the space are tight-lipped about failures," he said.

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Mainstream insurers tapping blockchain-powered prediction markets? A far-fetched idea perhaps, but one that caught wind in a discussion at Consensus.

Jags Rao, blockchain workstream lead at global reinsurer Swiss Re, highlighted the concept as one that’s on the firm's long-term radar.

"It's not in the next couple of years horizon, but it's important to be prepared because that’s where we as an insurance company can contribute knowledge that can help make that work."

Subhajit Mandal, MetLife's director of fintech innovation, wasn’t so sure the idea could be applied to insurance markets, however.

"When it comes to personal health, that data will not be available."

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A number of startups and healthcare companies are now planning to integrate blockchain tech to improve their systems.

But, as discussed on stage at Consensus, the very people the healthcare industry serves could complicate efforts to give them more control over their personal data.

"Consumers don't really know the power of owning their own information,” said Debbie Bucci, one of the leading figures in the US Department of Health and Human Service blockchain initiatives.

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