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London School of Economics & Bank of England Represented at Inaugural Bitcoin & Blockchain Leadership Forum

by: Giulio Prisco

London School of Economics & Bank of England Represented at Inaugural Bitcoin & Blockchain Leadership Forum

On May 14 the Social Media Leadership Forum will host the inaugural meeting of the Bitcoin and Blockchain Leadership Forum, a new initiative to explore the future of bitcoin and other digital currencies as well as the disruptive impact of the blockchain.

The event will take place in London at Allen & Overy, a legal consulting firm.

Currently, the Bitcoin and Blockchain Leadership Forum website is scant on details and invites interested readers to subscribe to their mailing list. On Twitter, the Forum invites people to come and explore the next generation Internet and hints at regular sessions after the inaugural event.

The Social Media Leadership Forum is a membership organization that organizes periodic events focused on business-related aspects of emerging digital technologies, hosted in the offices of a variety of world-leading member organizations based in London.

According to an invitation email shared on Reddit, representatives of the London School of Economics and the Bank of England will participate in the Bitcoin and Blockchain Leadership Forum and give talks.

The participation of representatives of the Bank of England is especially interesting. As recently noted by The Financial Times, Great Britain is on its way to becoming a global hub for bitcoin and other digital currencies, with both the government and Bank of England having made recent moves designed to stimulate the development of digital fintech.

A few months ago the Bank of England published a research paper titled “Innovations in payment technologies and the emergence of digital currencies.” The initial three bullet points provide a concise summary of the Bank of England’s thinking:

  • Modern electronic payment systems rely on trusted, central third parties to process payments securely. Recent developments have seen the creation of digital currencies such as bitcoin, which combine new currencies with decentralized payment systems.
  • Although the monetary aspects of digital currencies have attracted considerable attention, the distributed ledger underlying their payment systems is a significant innovation.
  • As with money held as bank deposits, most financial assets today exist as purely digital records. This opens up the possibility for distributed ledgers to transform the financial system more generally.

“Digital currencies do not currently pose a material risk to monetary or financial stability in the United Kingdom, but it is conceivable that potential risks could develop over time,” reads the conclusion of the Bank of England’s report. “The distributed ledger is a genuine technological innovation that demonstrates that digital records can be held securely without any central authority.”

A recent U.K. Treasury document titled “Digital Currencies: Response to the Call for Information” shows that the U.K. government is interested in supporting and understanding blockchain-based digital fintech, and understands the potential benefits it could bring to society. In particular, the government is launching a new research initiative that will bring together the Research Councils, Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult with industry in order to address the research opportunities and challenges for digital currency technology, and will increase research funding in this area by £10 million (U.S. $14.6 million) to support this.

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