Blockchain Bites: What You Need to Know About the Last Day of Consensus: Distributed

From bitcoin mining workshops to VR meetings about VR meetings, everything you need to know for the last day of Consensus: Distributed.

AccessTimeIconMay 15, 2020 at 1:28 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:42 a.m. UTC

Top Shelf

The sun rises on the last day of Consensus: Distributed, our first foray into the world of virtual events. 

We've heard from former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers describe the current monetary system as too private, Governor Harvesh Seegolam of the Bank of Mauritius inch closer to a central bank digital currency and World Economic Forum Blockchain head Sheila Warren say digital cash might open the door for niche privacy coins. 

So where does that leave us? With a full day of programming.

This is what my colleague Leigh Cuen will track throughout the day: 

We’ve finally reached the last day of Consensus: Distributed and there’s still so much going on.If you haven’t perused the Sponsors section of Brella and talked with companies such as eToro, CME Group and Kraken, many of which are hiring, that’s a great way to start the morning. Then there’s a show on cryptocurrency in Japan, starting at 11 a.m. ET with experts from the Financial Services Agency Japan, Coinbase and Soramitsu Holdings. Japan is the quiet juggernaut in Asia, home to BTCPay founder Nicolas Dorier, the Bitcoin Core contributors of DG Labs, and a careful regulatory climate ever since the infamous Mt. Gox hack. As such, the market arguably has fewer scams coupled with a robust bitcoin community. Japan’s cultural impact on the global crypto industry shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japanese alias. Next, I recommend Bailey Reutzel’s show about bitcoin mining, with Edge CEO Paul Puey and Alejandro De La Torre of Poolin at 3:30 p.m. ET. It’s titled “Subsidies and Secret Messages: All About Mining.” Then your brain will probably need a break from all that blockchain chatter. Luckily, we’ve got an after-party led by a group including the artist Josie Bellini, Travis Blane of ConsenSys and Reckless VR founder Udi Wertheimer. Starting at 5 p.m. ET, the virtual reality meetup will open with a panel about spaces, both virtual and physical. After that there shall be much avatar revelry, merrymaking and networking. If you’ve got a VR headset, check it out and post your experiences on social media using the hashtag #ConsensusDistributed. Thanks for joining us for the first virtual New York Blockchain Week!

What to Watch

9:30 - 11:00 a.m. ET Content: Reimagined - Hosted by Davis Wright Tremaine
This workshop will explore the use of decentralized systems for media in the age of disinformation. 

12:00 - 12:30 p.m. Beyond DAOs and Foundations: The Decentralized Autonomous Association (DAA) Model
Lawyers, tax advisers and blockchain experts gather to discuss the emergent model of the decentralized autonomous association. 

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Econometrics: Securing Your Blockchain Through Economic Analytics
Learn how real time data analytics can boost the economic security and increase the usability and functionality of your blockchain network.

3:30 - 4:00 p.m. Filecoin, IPFS, and The Future of Web3
Juan Benet’s Protocol Labs is building a better internet through decentralized systems and cryptographic hacks. In this program Benet will look into Protocol Labs two biggest projects, Filecoin and IPFS. 

5:00 - 5:30 p.m. A VR Meetup To Talk About VR Meetups
ConsenSys Travis Blane, "Crypto Twitter’s" Udi Wertheimer and CryptoMonday’s Lou Kerner are joined by the crypto artists Jin and Josie Bellini to discuss the future of conferences: VR. 

The CoinDesk 50

The CoinDesk 50 is an annual list celebrating the most important organizations in crypto. We've been announcing five nominees per day, and have highlighted BinanceCosmosBraveBitmainMakerDAOBesu,  Silvergate BankBitcoin and the People’s Bank of China as particularly noteworthy. Today we look at Bakkt, the first U.S. firm to offer physically settled bitcoin futures. Read about the final company here. 

The CoinDesk 50 are the most innovative and influential organizations in the crypto and blockchain industry.
The CoinDesk 50 are the most innovative and influential organizations in the crypto and blockchain industry.

CoinDesk COVID Response


CoinDesk has joined Gitcoin, The Giving Block and Ethereal Summit to support charities helping communities in difficult times. We're raising $100,000 and giving you a voice through the quadratic funding model. Learn how it works and how to donate.

New York-based interpretive artist Mr. Star City created an original piece of artwork at Consensus: Distributed for auction to support COVID-19 relief.
New York-based interpretive artist Mr. Star City created an original piece of artwork at Consensus: Distributed for auction to support COVID-19 relief.

In addition, New York-based abstract artist Mr. Star City created an original piece of artwork, shown above, as a part of Consensus: Distributed. The art, inspired by love, unity and technology, will be up for auction this week. Follow @coindesk on Twitter to find out how to bid — the proceeds will go to the same cause.

Consensus Magazine

Generation Crypto 
Freelance journalist Jess Klein writes about an emerging psychographic of people who see the world through the lens of decentralization. In a series of eight profiles, Klein examines “Generation Crypto,” a diffuse grouping of people of all ages, races and sexes, bound together as “children of Satoshi.” 

This excerpt examines the life of Shanga Mbuli, a father of six living in Kenya, who uses the little-known sarafu cryptocurrency in daily life. Read the full series here


A 42-year-old father of six, Shanga Mbuli lives in the small Kenyan village of Miyani, just a few kilometers from the ocean, where he catches shrimp to sell to fellow villagers. The nearest city is Mombasa, but Mbuli’s life as a rural farmer doesn’t include many visits there. Most of his buying and selling takes place among other community members. Since 2017, he’s been using a community currency, called sarafu, established by the non-profit Grassroots Economics to exchange local goods and services.

Sarafu is a digital currency built on blockchain technology so users can trade it with trust. It was designed for villages that are full of people with goods and services to offer but little government-issued currency to spend. In Mbuli’s 6,000-person community, nearly all are registered with the Sarafu Network. Mbuli accepts sarafu in exchange for shrimp he catches and maize he grows on his farm, and uses it to pay for rice and services like transportation and maize grinding. He likes sarafu because he finds it to be secure, and it makes his community “more connected,” he told me one evening in mid-March while walking to the nearby river to fetch water. Kids passing by and roosters calling sounded in the background. 

At that time, Kenya had just one confirmed case of coronavirus, in its capital city Nairobi. By the time we caught up again on Sunday, April 4, no cases had made it over to Mbuli’s rural community, but people there were preparing. City dwellers from Mombasa were returning to their families in rural villages like his in time for a shelter-in-place order to go into effect on April 11, and some could have been carrying the virus. Most in Mbuli’s village were readying to be confined to their homes for at least 21 days. Mbuli had stockpiled enough food for “at least two to three years.”

“People are now purchasing a lot of food through Sarafu so they can have a stock in their house to feed their families during the time of the virus,” Mbuli says. The day before we spoke, Mbuli sold almost 100,000 Kenya Shillings ($94) worth of maize in Sarafu, compared to the usually 15,000 or 20,000 worth he might sell daily. 

Sarafu’s user numbers have gone up, too, with the return of people from Mombasa to Mbuli’s village. “Those in Mombasa weren’t registered, so more people have been registered this week and are using more Sarafu,” he says, since the currency is local. “The more you use Sarafu, the more you save Kenya Shillings,” which are often the only currency accepted at institutions like schools.

There’s another upside to using Sarafu over Kenya Shillings during the Covid-19 outbreak – users don’t have to touch it. They can just send Sarafu through their phones, a convenience that will likely outlast its temporary usefulness during a viral outbreak.

Money Reimagined

Money Reimagined, Consensus: Distributed
Money Reimagined, Consensus: Distributed

Is bitcoin the answer for a global monetary system not longer served by the dollar standard? Airing Friday, May 15, episode 3 of The Breakdown: Money Reimagined examines bitcoin and permissionless stablecoins - both of which are forcing the global monetary system to examine deeply ingrained beliefs. 

The Breakdown: Money Reimagined is a podcast crossover micro series exploring the battle for the future of money in the context of a post COVID-19 world. The four-part podcast features over a dozen voices including Consensus: Distributed speakers Niall Ferguson, Nic Carter and Michael Casey. New episodes air Fridays on the CoinDesk Podcast Network. Subscribe here.

First Mover

Miners Hodl as Bitcoin Rallies
Bitcoin is rallying again, though new data shows mining pools are hanging onto the cryptocurrency they mine rather than sending it to exchanges for a quick sale, according to the Korean analytics firm CryptoQuant. One possibility explaining this behavior is that the miner community might be expecting a big price rally at some point down the road, said Brad Keoun in the latest First Mover newsletter. Another is that miners might be worried the market is looking weak, or thin: If they transferred their bitcoins to an exchange en route to cashing out, the heavy surge in sell orders might cause prices to collapse. You can subscribe to First Mover here

Media Diet

First State-Owned Entity Joins Libra Association
Temasek, one of Singapore’s two government-owned investment vehicles, is among the latest companies to join the Libra Association, the consortium Facebook set up to create a global digital currency. The addition may help explain why the Singapore dollar has figured prominently in Libra’s plans from the early days. In the initial vision of a new currency backed by a basket of different sovereign currencies, the “sing” was included alongside the U.S. dollar, the euro and the British pound. 

Telegram’s TON Was Built on Sand. Its Failure Isn’t All Bad For Crypto
Preston Byrne argues in a CoinDesk op-ed the SAFT structure Telegram would have used to distribute coins from its ICO, “once regarded as compliance best practice in the cryptocurrency industry, will be greatly diminished in its usefulness in the U.S.” And that’s a good thing. 

Aggrieved Investors Mull Suing Telegram Over Canceled TON Blockchain Project
Investors in Telegram’s TON project are in discussion to sue the company after it abruptly shuttered the blockchain effort earlier this week, according to four individuals familiar with the situation. 

Who's Holding up the #Cryptoverse?

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