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Bitcoin, Lightning, and Flash during Unchain Berlin

The Unchained conference in Berlin drew more veterans than newcomers, but whispers of a CryptoSpring were growing in volume. Both chain-agnostics and Bitcoin maximalists debated their respective views on-stage, delivering a rich basis for trend-watching.

Here we go:

  • Lightning is a good testing ground. A lot of faith has been placed in the off-chain scaling technology, Lightnight Network (LN). Many speakers at the conference suggested that LN would be able to help merchants begin accepting Bitcoin, but offered very few (if any) real-world examples of this. Igor Korsakov of BlueWallet suggested Lightning is only useful for repetitive payments under say $100 which would only make it useful in low-cost subscription and virtual goods gaming applications.  
  • Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer cash is done. Many of the maximalists and agnostics seemed to agree that payments in Bitcoin are unlikely as the main use case. Even staunch Bitcoin maximalist, Tone Vays, backed down when challenged on Bitcoin’s utility as a payment system – deferring those activities to a second-layer solution like Lightning. Bitcoin is now firmly in the “store of value” and “security layer” role and that is unlikely to change.
  • Bitcoin price will forever be volatile…and that’s OK. Those expecting price stability in Bitcoin haven’t looked very closely has the historical prices of gold.  Bitcoin is compared by many as a “digital gold” it shares many of the same properties, yet Bitcoin is far easier to move custodianship across oceans or around the world. Stablecoins will fill the role of being non-volatile. 
  • The best is yet to come. While our industry is still less than a decade old, it’s far from hitting its stride. I see consistently the same people showing up, some with second or even third companies still innovating and working through the role Bitcoin and the competing protocols will play in the future.

The event producers have struck a fine balance between thought-provoking and well-prepared content and a welcoming and engaging environment. Speakers and attendees shared ideas, learned from one another and didn’t miss the opportunity to have fun!  While what is in store for the blockchain industry is still evolving, conversations like those had at Unchain Berlin will be helpful in paving the way. 

Steve Beauregard is Bloq’s chief revenue officer

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