Virtual currencies and blockchain technology are no longer a fringe area but are now being looked at by central banks, governments and major financial institutions as something that could radically change the global economy. The European Parliament is to hold the first exhibition on virtual currencies and blockchain in any parliament in the world over four days in the week of the 18th April.
Attendees at the exhibition, which is non-commercial and for informing MEPs, will include the World Bank, IMF, OECD, Bank for International Settlements, United Nations (UNICRI) and Europol along with academics, central banks, established companies and startups. The Cobden Centre, a UK economics think tank, will be organising the exhibition in association with EDCAB, the European Digital Currencies and Blockchain Forum.
Dr Syed Kamall MEP, who is hosting the event, is the Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group within the Parliament; as a group leader he can hold an exhibition within the Parliament building itself on a subject of his choosing during his 5 year tenure. He has chosen to have the exhibition over four days, in the central area of the Parliament building, focussed on the evolution of virtual currencies and the blockchain. Blockchain is the technology that is used to build most virtual currencies like Bitcoin, but also has far wider uses including for trading stocks and bonds and even registering property.
“I am pleased to be hosting the exhibition on blockchain and virtual currencies in the European Parliament. Legislators internationally are now looking at this area and how to protect the consumer while stimulating innovation,” commented Dr Syed Kamall MEP. “This is a unique opportunity to have some of the world’s top economic institutions here to discuss the way forward.”
The Cobden Centre is an economics think tank founded by UK Member of Parliament Steve Baker, who sits on the Treasury Select Committee, and entrepreneur Toby Baxendale. Mr Baker commented, “I am very glad that the Cobden Centre has been given this opportunity by one of our long-time contributors and my good friend, Syed Kamall MEP. Blockchain is one of the new intellectual battlegrounds for ideas within economics and it is important that all points of view are aired openly”. The Cobden Centre has been interested in this technology for several years and views it as a way to improve the standard of living of people around the world by enabling freer trade.
Roundtable discussions will take place on Wednesday the 20th of April, with presentations from several of the attendees including the IMF, Nasdaq, Bank for International Settlements and Blockchain.info. Many of the leading figures in the world of blockchain will be invited to contribute to the discussions.
“It will be important that policy makers are sensible when looking at how to approach the industry so that it is not smothered while still in its embryonic stage” said Max Rangeley, the editor and manager of The Cobden Centre. “We should ensure that the approach taken benefits small startups as well as established companies.”
Blockchain technology has been compared to the internet in terms of its breadth of applicability and potential to revolutionise commerce. The European Union is currently looking at how to legislate for these technologies. It is important that policy makers are aware of the potential benefits so that any legislation is sensible and does not restrict innovation.