I think that the inflexion moment was the Davos conference of January 2016. The WEF had the delightful task to open the eyes of most of international bank leaders about a technology that can disrupt the financial services sector and beyond. The rocket took off after this event and since, most of international banks have created a blockchain department in their organizations to search more about this technology that disturbs banks and insurers.
Personally, I still believe that I am a beginner about blockchain and still need to investigate more about the technology… I mean “Blockchain revolution” book is on the top of my literary shopping list.
But as we need to start small, this is an opportunity to write about an event that happened some weeks ago in Sao Paulo, the first international Blockchain Hackaton. The event was organized by the Blockchain Center with the support of Ewally, Accenture and Bradesco. Let’s start, what is the Blockchain Center? Some months ago, the fintech community of Sao Paulo opened a space where startups using blockchain technology and bitcoins can work together, where events related to blockchain can be organized and where anybody who is interested in the technology can go to.
Robert Schwentker, head of the Blockchain University in L.A, was present to mentor during the event. He has already organized and participated in several blockchain hackatons around the world and this was his first time in Latin America.
During a day and a half, developers and business people worked on solutions that use this technology and can bring money. To start the journey, several key actors of the Brazilian blockchain and bitcoin community made some presentations to immerge the audience into the blockchain world. Robert Schwentker presented a high level understanding of blockchain, how it is disrupting our current world and some possible solutions that can emerge from this technology.
Then Foxbit, the biggest bitcoin broker in Brazil took the stage to present its business and sharing some programming features from its platform with the developers.
IBM had also shared its knowledge about blockchain and went further on the programming tools to provide some guidance. Then Rippex, the gateway of Ripple in Brazil gave some examples of the use of blockchain in financial transactions. For your information, Ripple is the famous startup that uses financial technology to facilitate international payments in real time. Why I am saying “famous” because Santander is one of its clients and has become the gold weapon to disrupt the international remittance market. Finally, the last presentation of the day was performed by OriginalMy. Edilson Osorio, its founder, is quite a reference of blockchain in the country and one of the first ones to use the technology beyond the banking industry. He did a clever comparison of blockchain and Pokemon Go to understand the use of the technology and provided programming tips to the audience. Why to complicate when it can be as easy as capturing a pokemon.
Then, the moment of ideas came out. Several people in the audience suggested a list of initiatives (from solutions for the medical sector to financial inclusion) and Robert S. helped to moderate the creative moment. I said “creative” moment because when you have to start to put that on reality, challenges are harder and we need to reshape the initial project. The three teams that arrived to the final were: a crowdfunding using blockchain, a certification system of diplomas using the technology and a voting system for building management. The final winner was “CertMe”, a solution that authenticate university diplomas on blockchain.
During this journey, I want to highlight some important points:
- Several developers that attended did not know programming in blockchain and had to learn in the moment.
- 98% of the participants were men
- I met a faculty girl student at the hackaton. She participated to dig more on blockchain because she heard that mastering this technology will warranty her a job within the big banks for the coming years.
- The final solutions presented were not disruptive rather general but let’s be realistic, it is the first hackaton in the city. Several people discovered blockchain and had to deliver a solution in a day and a half. It was a short time to take a disruptive approach.
- Developers stated that there is still a lack of documentation about programming with blockchain on the internet. Big companies as Microsoft or IBM should facilitate materials (in every language) and environments to push developers feel comfortable with the technology.
In a previous event, I heard that “blockchain is like sex for teenagers, everybody talks but nobody does nothing”. Well, we still have a long way to ride but I would say that this was a good beginning. Developers rolled up their sleeves and started experimenting what is programming with blockchain. We need more events like this in order to create among the coders the curiosity to learn more about the technology. Blockchain is the future and we cannot be left behind now that the global movement has started.
Thank you Robert Schwentker and Blockchain Center for organizing the event.