The World Economic Forum's annual meeting, which was supposed to be held in 2021, was pushed back to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the event will be held in Switzerland. On the first day, blockchain advocates had parties on the famous Promenade in the city.
As the attendees got off their planes and trains in the city, they were greeted by signs promoting various crypto-based companies, such as Bitcoin Suisse and Circle. People were talking about their favorite cryptocurrencies.
Five years ago, the only company on the Promenade was a blockchain company, according to Sandra Ro, the CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). At a party outside the conference venue, she noted that the number of companies based on cryptocurrencies has increased significantly.
The rapid emergence and growth of the crypto industry caught the attention of the global business community. Due to the seriousness of the discussions being held by the WEF, many prominent players in the industry were invited to participate.
New era for digital money
On Monday, Jeremy Allaire, the chairman and CEO of Circle Pay, and Brad Garlinghouse, the chief executive officer of Ripple, held a panel discussion about the new era of digital money. The other panel participants included Asif Saleh, the executive director of the Bangladesh Reconstruction and Action Committee (BRAC).
The forum also discussed the future of the global economy and the various types of digital currencies. Despite the lack of acceptance of cryptocurrencies by the global business community, the forum leaders are still committed to addressing the issue.
A panel discussion on the future of the U.S. economy was also held. It featured Adena Friedman, the chief executive officer of the Nasdaq Stock Market, and Dan Schulman, the chief executive officer of PayPal.
According to economist and Harvard University professor Alan Furman, the U.S. should not be involved in developing digital central bank currencies. He noted that countries worldwide could use these types of currencies instead.
A panel discussion on the global economy also tackled the value proposition of various types of digital currencies. Despite the efforts of Rebecca Blumenstein, the deputy managing editor of the New York Times, to stop the discussion, the participants still expressed their enthusiasm for the various types of cryptocurrencies.
"The younger generation says the older generation has devalued the dollar or the value of other currencies, so maybe something new isn't so bad," said David M. Rubenstein, the co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group.
The panels officially dedicated to discussing cryptocurrencies went far beyond the initial discussions. Allaire and Garlinghouse discussed the need for regulatory clarity in the industry during their panel discussion.
Allaire noted that the world is moving toward a point where the concept of cross-border payments will be as crazy as the idea of sending an email. He pointed out that the current pace of technological change has made cross-border payments impractical.
Garlinghouse noted that the control of financial systems is not going to change in his lifetime. His company is currently involved in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the sale of the digital token XRP.
Garlinghouse also noted that the lack of regulatory clarity in the cryptocurrency industry is a major issue that needs to be solved. He said that the U.S. is behind other countries when setting up regulations for the sector.