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OpEd “World Economic Forum 2023 – Crypto in the Context of a Fragmented World”

The theme of the World Economic Forum 2023 was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” and it certainly feels like a very pertinent one. As we enter a new year that sees us carrying the heavy weights of both political and economic crises across the globe from 2022, cooperation from leaders and decision makers is very welcome indeed.

The main topics of discussion this year were Ukraine, sustainability in the food sector, applying human rights in the digital world, a call for an ESG reporting system, and global cybersecurity. With less high profile speakers than in previous years, the fullness and vibrancy was still in full swing, as experienced simply by walking along the famous Promenade.

Lined with pop-up shop takeovers by such brands as Uber, Zoom, Polygon, Circle, Ripple, CNBC, Filecoin, Meta, and more, one could feel a buzz in the air simply walking along the busy main road. For a second year in a row, an enormous structure was erected in tribute to Ukraine in a prime location, drawing attention to the significance of the ongoing war.

Crypto on the Scene in Davos

As an attendee representing the company I work for, Fiat24, and as a crypto and blockchain enthusiast, I definitely paid most attention to discussions surrounding the global economy, recession, inflation and the outlook ahead. The Chief Economists Outlook struck a cautious tone, with two-thirds of those surveyed expecting a global recession this year, which is concerning.

From a crypto perspective, the biggest event in Davos last week was the main stage panel featuring Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse; Mairead McGuinness, architect of the EU’s recent crypto law MiCA; Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, minister of state for artificial intelligence and the digital economy of the United Arab Emirates; and Klaas Knot, chair of the Financial Stability Board currently developing a global rulebook for the sector.

As the only panel dedicated solely to crypto inside the main WEF venue, it was a tense discussion, as McGuinness spoke of how the turmoil in the crypto market has given extra ammunition to those pushing for a global rulebook, but warned future crypto innovations need to be focused on people. She was honest about the practical challenges of implementing international rules, saying “I do hope there is” global crypto regulation, but you know, when it comes to climate change, we all want global things to happen, and they’re not, so sometimes somebody has to start the process.”

It’s important to note that there are an abundance of side events happening alongside the main World Economic Forum event, with such well-known Swiss companies such as CV Labs running their Blockchain Hub throughout the week, hosting high-profile panel discussions open to the public. 

The general interest in crypto was felt in Davos this year, with even the BlackRock Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein, speaking at a Circle event. He pointed out that his company – one of the world’s largest asset managers – expanded its role in the crypto industry last year.

“We have been carefully watching, learning, trying to understand everything that’s been going on for five years, 10 years, whatever the amount of time has been, but we’ve been consciously choosing to have a strategy, [though] not yet to implement the strategy,” Goldstein said. “What’s interesting about the year 2022, which was a remarkable year in so many ways, and through so many lenses … interestingly, it was the year that we chose at BlackRock to actually start implementing our digital assets strategy, the strategy that we had written over the past couple of years.”

Key Takeaways

The crypto winter of 2022 remains in the early days of 2023, with no clear signs of ending soon. I have to say that, walking down the promenade, the crypto presence was a lot less than last year and several venues were available only for people on lists and not open to walk-ins. This was rather disappointing.

Despite that, the discussions that took place were serious and addressed important topics, with Jeremy Allaire, CEO of USDC stablecoin issuer Circle, saying “I hope there’s an increased focus on utility value and practical applications of the technology, and less focus on retail investors chasing meme coins,” 

As a panelist at an event held by World Innovation Economics on day 3 of WEF 2023, I shared the stage alongside several metaverse, blockchain, AI and Web3 experts. The general consensus was that we should all continue to be optimistic this year, as these emerging technologies continue to gain traction across industries and with a shared outlook that the crypto and digital asset market will see an improvement over the course of the year.

I personally hope that the world leaders and decision makers who convened over the week can find ways to work together to defragment a fragmented world, with special focus on the most urgent issues facing the world today – Ukraine, the global economy, and sustainability. 

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This content is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute trading advice. Past performance does not indicate future results. Do not invest more than you can afford to lose. The author of this article may hold assets mentioned in the piece.

Author

Karen Shidlo went to college in NYC, and has lived in Switzerland for the past 6 years. Currently marketing manager at Fiat24, she is passionate about blockchain technology and the impact that it can have on the world. Fiat24 is a web3 banking concept, built on Ethereum and powered by smart contracts to offer everyone a seamless peer-to-peer, next-generation payment experience.

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