London Blockchain Week preview: Luis Carranza interview

By Alex Hammond | 20 January 2017

London Blockchain Week returns to the capital next week, with blockchain industry professionals and financial services providers from across the UK and further afield set to descend on the city.

The event kicks off with ‘Hack-The-Block’, a three-day hackathon competition where teams will be challenged to use blockchain technology to solve problems in municipal and citizenship services, and for financial inclusion in internal remittances.

The hackathon will then be followed by a two-day conference, where speakers will include CEO and co-founder of BTCC Bobby Lee, CEO of Blockchain Tech Ltd Guy Halford-Thompson and Richard Crook, Head of Innovation Engineering at RBS.

The final two days of the event will be dominated by workshops, where participants can delve deeper into the latest tech and issues that are dominating the blockchain space in 2017.

Serial tech entrepreneur and founder of London Blockchain Week Luis Carranza spoke with bobsguide about why the event is a must-attend for those whose professions will be impacted by the continued integration of blockchain in business in the coming years.

Why did you decide to launch London Blockchain Week?

I made the decision to create the first ever Blockchain Conference three years ago. I remember people at the time wondering why I decided to focus on the technology underpinning bitcoin but it was clear to me back then that blockchain was going to take off in a big way. A lot has changed since and as blockchain has grown, so we wanted to make the event bigger and reflect the diversity of sectors that the technology is having an impact on. That is what you’ll see at London Blockchain Week 2017.

What do you think will be the highlight of the event?

The connections that are made at the main conference. As with London Fintech Week I find that an essential part of Fintech Worldwide’s events is the informal atmosphere that lends itself to interesting conversations and ideas being shared, not to mention business cards. As I have already mentioned, the diversity of sectors – from charities to the music industry – moves the dial away from purely financial services and I’m excited about the kind of projects that will arise as a result of an eclectic mix of influential figures coming together.

What are the main issues that are going to be discussed during Blockchain Week?

Taking blockchain from proof-of-concept to real world mass adoption. Are we too early to do that yet? That will be a contentious subject for sure. Brexit and Article 50 will naturally be discussed at the conference but I imagine this to take a much stronger focus at London Fintech Week in July, which will come after the triggering of UK’s exit from the EU (if the government sticks to its announced plans).

Do you think financial institutions are currently doing enough to incorporate fintech into their businesses?

Yes and no. Every financial institution has a departments devoted to fintech, but these organisations are huge and it can take a lot of time to see real progress. Fintech isn't being incorporated as quickly as one would expect the industry to be moving given its potential, but we are getting there.

How is the adoption of fintech into financial services going to change in 2017?

It will continue to move at a similar rate, but certain sectors will mature, especially those that don’t face the regulatory obstacles that the financial sector does. Crowdfunding, SME lending and P2P insurance should evolve as blockchain continues to peak interest, but adoption will be for the brave.

What challenges are traditional banks facing in 2017 that the development of blockchain technology can solve?

I believe that banks will be trumped by governments. There’s a lot that needs to happen, which can all be accelerated by blockchain adoption at a municipal level. It’s been reassuring to see strong government interest over the past year, and once government entities start demanding changes in order to improve transparency/efficiency, then we’ll know we’re getting somewhere.

What are the key components for a successful fintech developer/bank relationship?

Both should always be evolving, by focusing on user experience while increasing safety. It's always a delicate balance for any company operating in the financial sector, but both supplier and operator should make sure that the requirements of the end user are always adhered to. In terms of working relationships, ambitious developers should try to understand the internal workings of big institutions and why they can be slow moving. And similarly, banks should work to create an experimental, supportive environment for them to try things out; this will lead to harmony.

What are your big predictions for the industry over the next 12 months?

  1. A non-financial services application for blockchain will gain adoption
  2. Chinese tech companies will gain greater prominence.
  3. Investment in fintech will increase and we'll have discussions of a bubble as we head towards 2018

London Blockchain Week will be taking place January 20-26 at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. For more information visit www.blockchainweek.com