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  • Writer's pictureS Pettigrove and M Bacina

Digital Assets Conference convenes in Sydney

The first Digital Assets Conference was convened by Blockchain APAC in Sydney this week with a series of round tables and a one day conference bringing together TradFI veterans and Web3 natives for conversations on some of the key topics confronting the growth and adoption of blockchain and digital assets.

The conference kicked off with a range of roundtables on topics like institutional adoption, global regulatory trends, blockchain and AI, and digital custody.

Day 2 saw conference participants engage in a series of panel and interactive discussions on a wide range of topics. The first panel discussed the role of digital assets and scams which has been a burning topic in Australia in recent months. CyberCX reported data indicating that total cyber crime is equivalent to the world's third largest economy after the US and China. Further, Australians lost nearly $3.1 billion to scams last year, although it is believed that only about 13% of scams are reported. It is believed around 40% of scams touch cryptocurrency in some way. Representatives from blockchain analytics firms, TRM Labs and Chainalysis, noted that other countries are seeing similar trends in relation to scams, although these trends have not dominated the discourse in relation to cryptocurrency in the same way as Australia at present. Panelists cited the need for increased information sharing as important in order to combat scams. Attendees also debated the merits of introducing additional customer friction in order prevent scams.

A panel on Australia's role in the region and regulatory trends saw attendees debate the pace and shape of regulatory developments in Australian and internationally, and whether Australia should do more to attract Web3 talent.

John Ho of Standard Chartered Bank updated the conference on recent international policy efforts in relation to digital assets, noting that we have seen a shift among global regulators from skepticism to being more progressive on innovation. Panelists also discussed the increasing recognition by policy makers of convergence between digital identity, digital currency and digital assets in the next wave of technology innovation.

Amanda Wick, the Founder and CEO of the Association for Women in Crypto reiterated the need for industry to provide positive proposals to Government and not sit back and criticize how regulators are not doing it right.

The afternoon sessions saw panels discuss real world use cases and institutional adoption. A number of institutional players commented on the need to build trust in Web3 and the power of established brands. Mastercard's Ashok Venkateswaran highlighted the firm's ambition to build products that enable customers to "Trust MasterCard as they do today in this new space". The potential benefits of cryptocurrency for global treasury management and cross-border settlement were also highlighted.

The conference concluded on Day 3 with a Gala dinner and the naming a Digital Assets Impact List recognizing those having the greatest impact on the Australian digital assets industry. In a sign of the times, the current ASIC Chair, Joe Longo was named No. 1. The Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer respectively, Stephen Jones and Jim Chalmers, followed at No. 2 and 3 reflecting the important role of government in shaping a reform agenda for the blockchain industry and wider financial sector.


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