Blockchain Bites: Your Guide to Consensus Distributed

Blockchain Bites will publish twice daily throughout Consensus: Distributed, setting the schedule and rounding up what you may have missed.

AccessTimeIconMay 11, 2020 at 11:51 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:39 a.m. UTC

Today’s the day. Consensus: Distributed will kick off this morning at 6:15 a.m. ET, beginning five days of in-depth coverage and conversation on the crypto and blockchain industry. 

And it starts with a bang. For the next 24 hours, there will be a continuous live TV event featuring more than 50 programs with special addresses from Yves Mersch, member of ECB’s Executive Board, Chris Giancarlo, former CFTC chairman, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, among dozens of other heavy hitters. 

You're reading Blockchain Bites, the daily roundup of the most pivotal stories in blockchain and crypto news, and why they're significant. You can subscribe to this and all of CoinDesk's newsletters here. 

Here's what my colleague, the up-and-coming CoinDesk reporter Will Foxley, has to say about what he's looking forward to today:

The big day is here! No, not the Bitcoin block halving, but Consensus Distributed, a top-to-bottom tech conference hosted virtually for the first time in its five year run. Personally, I’m looking forward to my colleague Leigh Cuen’s panel on Bitcoin in emerging markets. CoinDesk ran three stories on the topic leading up to the event covering bitcoin and cryptocurrency developments in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America – be sure to check them out also! Cuen is joined by R&B singer Akon along with crypto industry shakers and movers such as Paxful CEO Ray Youssef on making crypto accessible to the masses. You can check her panel out at 7:30 p.m. ET entitled Crypto Across Emerging Markets

What not to miss: Introducing CoinDesk TV 24/7

As part of our virtual, real-time experience, CoinDesk is presenting CoinDesk TV, which will be streamed live on CoinDesk.comYouTubeTwitterFacebook Live and in Brella, our virtual conferencing platform, from Monday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m. ET to Tuesday, May 12, at 9 a.m. ET. Here are the choice cuts. 

8:45 - 9:30 a.m. ET Ask Them Anything: Chris Giancarlo and the Digital Dollar Project
Come prepared with questions to ask former heads of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chris Giancarlo and Daniel Gorfine as well as Accenture blockchain lead David Treat about their ambitious plan to digitize the US dollar. 

9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Money Re-Imagined with Michael J. Casey and Naomi Brockwell
Former U.S. Treasury Department official Larry Summers, World Economic Forum executive Sheila Warren and crypto luminaries including Caitlin Long, Joe Lubin and Dante Disparte, among others, will join CoinDesk’s Michael Casey to discuss the future of finance and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the global economic system. It’s a roundtable you don’t want to miss. 

10:30 - 11:00 a.m. Carlota Perez Keynote: On Blockchains and Technological Revolutions
World-renowned economist and author of 'Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital' Carlota Perez delivers her keynote address on the paradigm shift blockchains represent for the world. Right after, Perez will be joined by Placeholder Ventures’ Chris Burniske for a half hour dialogue called Seeking Surge Cycles (11:00 AM - 11:30 AM). Both will stay on for another half hour segment, fielding questions from the audience until noon EST. 

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Battle for the Base Layer with Brady Dale
Looking into the blockchains – like Tezos or NEAR – looking to unseat Ethereum as the go-to dapp platform will feature an appearance from Thesis’ Carolyn Reckhow, who will speak to interoperability and collaboration, rather than competition, between the biggest base chains.

4:10 - 5:00 p.m. Mass Adoption with Leigh Cuen and Zack Seward  
Scheduled just before the 5 o’clock happy hour, this star studded program features the Winklevii, Lolli’s Alex Adelman and Meltem Demirors and celebrity guests Michelle Phan and Spencer Dinwiddie to discuss how close we are to realizing the full potential of blockchain. 

7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Tales from the Crypto Courtroom
Storied lawyer Brian Klein, who represented the likes of Charlie Shrem, Erik Voorhees and, now, Virgil Griffith, who was arrested on charges of conspiracy to assist North Korea, gives us. 

8:00 - 8:30 p.m. The Flippening: EY's Paul Brody on Public Blockchains for Enterprise
EY’s Global Blockchain Leader Paul Brody will discuss how his firm vets public chains for the largest corporations.

9:00 - 10:00 p.m. CZ Stays Home: The Binance Boss and Guests in Conversation 
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao will talk COVID-19 and stay on for a half hour afterwards for a Q&A with the audience.

Bitcoin Halving

Today also marks the third halving in Bitcoin’s 11 years. Here are two Bitcoin Halving events you don’t want to miss. 

7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Bitcoin Halve Time Show 
PwC’s Alex de Vries, Bison Trail’s Joe Lallouz and Bitfarm’s Wes Fulford break down this quadrennial event when Bitcoin undergoes its programmatic halving. (Scheduled for whenever the halving happens).

While not exclusively focused on the halving, Monday’s 1:00 p.m. session Bitcoin 101: Why You Should (Maybe) Buy Bitcoin and How, will examine some of the arguments surrounding the post-halved bitcoin bull run theory. 

Bitcoin Halved

Funny story. The halving was actually predicted to occur sometime in the wee hours of Tuesday’s morning. Until a number of miners came online in anticipation of the event, pushing up the network’s hashing power, and also the much anticipated event. Still, from 2:00-3:00 a.m. Jordan Chen of major mining machine manufacturer MicroBT and Wang Chun, founder of the world’s largest mining pool F2Pool, will join a host of other heavy weights to celebrate the event in Happy Halving Day! How Bitcoin's Quadrennial Landmark Impacts Miners.

See also: How To Watch And Connect At Consensus: Distributed 

On Tuesday from 10:30-11:30 a.m., Santiment CEO Maksim Balashevich and Bitstorio Consoritio Group Travin Keith come online for a workshop to teach people how to understand block explorers and use them to make investment decisions. The show is conveniently called: What Am I Looking At? Understanding Block Explorers and How To Use Them to Make Investment Decisions.

A similar workshop will be held on Wednesday from 10:00-11:00 a.m. called Research Hub: Storytelling Through Charts. This time featuring Nomics CEO Clay Collins, DuneAnalytics CEO Fredrik Haga and Coin Metrics’ Lucas Nuzzi.

How to use Brella

To access all of the deeper cuts available through Consensus: Distributed, you'll need to login through Brella, our virtual conferencing platform.

You can create an account through Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook or set one up manually on Brella. Your profile will be the way you match and network with others. As soon as you're set up, you’ll be directed to a dashboard showing other registrants.

Brella is easy to use and has a number of features to help you through this virtual experience. There are multiple tracks of simultaneous programming happening inside Brella. You’ll also be able to browse the entire agenda, bookmark sessions and build your own schedule.

The CoinDesk 50

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Credit: Cavendish Design

The CoinDesk 50 is our selection of the most innovative, consequential and viable projects working in this space. We’ll be announcing five new nominees everyday throughout Consensus: Distributed. You can read the first 25 selections here. 

Consensus Magazine

Leading up to and throughout Consensus: Distributed, CoinDesk will be publishing our online Consensus Magazine featuring in-depth stories, op-eds and Q&As. Here are some of my favorite so far.

The Changemaker: Glen Weyl Puts His Radical Ideas Into Action
Glen Weyl has gone through a series of political conversions. Now he’s finding a way to put his ideas into practice with RadicalxChange, a civics network being tapped by governments.

The Men Who Stare at Charts
As the bitcoin halving approaches, far-flung traders like "Young Tilopa," "Luis J. Sarmiento" and "Brian" look for an edge. Ben Munster meets them and finds out what trading crypto for a living is really like.

How to Protect Your Crypto From Cyber Attacks During COVID
Oxford futurist David Shrier outlines ways to mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and crypto-jacking now that we’re all online, all of the time. 

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Michelle Phan poses in the Em Cosmetics office. (Credit: Mark Sacro for CoinDesk)

Michelle Phan: The Beauty of Bitcoin
YouTube famous Michelle Phan has gone all-in on Bitcoin. She also thinks her 8.9 million subscribers are ready for Bitcoin. "They want to know how to protect their purchasing power,” she said in a profile by CoinDesk’s Leigh Cuen.

Catching up at Consensus

Kristin Smith is director of external affairs for the Blockchain Association and a speaker at Consensus: Distributed. We reached out to her over Zoom to talk about what it's like being a blockchain lobbyist during corona, her views on the Digital Dollar and what she's going to be talking about today at noon.

What is like lobbying people on Zoom?
It’s really hard. First of all, lawmakers aren’t used to working on Zoom, it’s primarily phone calls when you’re interacting with anyone in government. The ability to get to know new people is almost nonexistent. Normally, we would be trying to expand our circles through introductory meetings. Given the crisis, all the attention and focus is on the immediate response to the coronavirus. So, at the moment, we don’t really have the luxury of setting up these get-to-know you phone calls. The everyday groundwork, relationship building, and basic education work is really difficult to do right now.

You mentioned that most legislative efforts are directed towards the pandemic. Are there any cryptocurrency plays that are moving on this agenda?
Strangely, I think, if you had asked me at the beginning of the year if any pro-crypto legislation would happen this year I would have said it’s a near-zero chance: It’s an election year, there’s an impeachment going on, there’s not a whole lot moving through Congress. But this crisis has been so sudden and widespread, that Congress is now open to ideas that would have faced big hurdles in the past, or at least lacked a serious audience. So, I think, once we transition to more recovery-focused legislation, there will be opportunities to promote innovations from the crypto industry. It certainly doesn’t guarantee that we’ll get anything passed, but there will be big legislative vehicles moving that we can attach our policy ideas to.

What do you think the larger impact of China’s digital currency will be?
That is definitely something lawmakers are paying attention to. They are very concerned about what China is doing, and want to ensure the U.S. remains competitive. I think this is going to be a huge factor in the discussion around what a digital dollar should look like. It shows how much further ahead China is compared to the U.S. in adopting blockchain technology as part of a solution for many different sectors of their economy.

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Kristin Smith, executive director at the Blockchain Association

Could you give a preview of what you hope to discuss at Consensus: Distributed?
I’m going to host along with Chris Brummer from Georgetown University and Aaron Stanley. We have several themes we hope to touch on. One of them is the digital dollar. Also, the role of China and their digital currency coming online and what that means for the United States. We’ll also have an interview with Brian Brooks, the number two at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and former chief legal officer at Coinbase.

Crypto Long & Short

When Paul Tudor Jones says he’s long bitcoin, investors pay attention. Even if they don’t agree with his stance, he’s a well-known hedge fund investor, one of the great commodity inventors of all time, an iconic name in the “smart money” set, writes CoinDesk's Director of Research Noelle Acheson, in the latest Crypto Long & Short, a newsletter that looks closely at the forces driving cryptocurrency markets.

According to reports, Tudor is buying bitcoin “as a hedge.” This is very different from funds speculating on bitcoin’s price going up. This is a hedge position, which is more fundamental and long-term. 

This isn’t an institutional investor pontificating about the need for real assets in the face of unlimited money issuance and economic strain. This is hedge fund royalty publicly acknowledging that he is betting on bitcoin as a hedge. This is different. You can read Acheson's full analysis here, and sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Who Won Crypto Twitter?

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