On February 24th, 10 am CET (Brussels time), BlockStart blockchain startup acceleration programme will hold an online blockchain regulation and policy conference Blockchain: regulation in the decentralized world”. To make a step further in discussing the best policy approaches, the conference will focus on the question of whether top-down regulation and the decentralized essence of blockchain are compatible and how to best regulate the emerging sector.

As the innovation outpaces regulation, traditional top-down regulatory approaches seem to fall behind in terms of regulating blockchain and its societal impact. New ways to protect the interests of the ecosystem actors evolve. The key might be to re-conceptualize governance as a more horizontal, decentralized or bottom-up mode of regulation. Self-organization in the blockchain domain is inevitable and needs recognition and adaptation from policymakers. 

To explore further the concept of decentralization and self-regulation in the blockchain community, we set to invite the blockchain experts to present the best self-regulation initiatives, as well as, to discuss the readiness of regulators to adapt to the changing landscape:

Dr Joachim Schwerin is Principal Economist in the unit responsible for the Digital Transformation of Industry within the Directorate-General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission. He is responsible for developing the policy approach of DG GROW towards the Token Economy and Distributed-Ledger Technologies as well as their applications for industry and SMEs. In 2020, he contributed to the Digital Finance Strategy, including the MiCA Regulation. Dr Schwerin emphasises the decentralized nature of blockchain technology and the need for a truly inclusive and democratic bottom-up approach to exploit its opportunities. Joachim is calling for policymakers and regulators to acknowledge that the pace of innovation in the crypto space, the truly borderless nature of decentralised spaces and the intrinsic difficulty to foresee the future path of digital evolution render the traditional top-down regulatory model increasingly obsolete. He notes that “the future of regulation lies in an open public-private co-learning space that helps establish minimum standards, not more”. 

Marc Taverner is the Executive Director of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). The mission of INATBA is to develop transparent and inclusive governance and cooperation models for blockchain applications, to inform policy and regulatory measures that may contribute to harnessing the many opportunities of blockchain through a close dialogue with policy-makers and regulators, and promote regulatory convergence that drives potential impacts for society and the economy from these technologies.

As executive director, Marc works with INATBA’s members to host bilateral conversations between governments (including the European Commission) and companies to inform policies and regulations and advance the international adoption of blockchain. During the conference, Marc will talk about the topics of Market in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) and Pilot Regime (PRR) regulations where INATBA and her members made a huge impact.

Ian Taylor is the Executive Director of CryptoUK (CUK). CUK is the United Kingdom’s trade body representing the crypto and digital assets industry. Ian is passionate about the opportunities emerging from digital assets and possesses more than 20 years of experience in commercial strategy, proposition development, and policy and communications, with a depth of expertise in the fintech, crypto, transaction banking and payments and capital markets sectors. He leverages experience within both the traditional finance and digital asset industries to bridge two ecosystems with shared commercial, regulatory and reputational challenges. 

Ian will present the work of CryptoUK in promoting accountable self-governance through adherence to codes of conduct in the industry. Also, he will introduce the organization’s initiatives to establish and nurture productive partnerships between industry participants, legislatures, policymakers, and regulatory agencies and help lawmakers understand our nascent industry and its underlying technologies where needed.

Agata Ferreira is an expert at the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum and an Advisor for Blockchain for Europe. Agata is an experienced international lawyer, PHD, blockchain and fintech expert. She is an assistant professor at the Warsaw University of Technology and a Guest Professor at several other academic institutions in Europe. Agata will join the panel discussion with her insights on blockchain regulation and self-governance from the legal perspective. 

Gilles Mentré spent seven years as a managing director at Lazard. Before that, he served as a civil servant at the French Finance Ministry and worked as an advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy and deputy chief of staff of Finance Minister and Environment Minister. He co-founded Electis in 2018 and is a member of the Project Selection Committee of the United-Nations International Conference for E-Governance (ICEGOV). Gilles will be presenting Electis‘ work as an example of decentralized governance.

Peter Nobels is involved in the blockchain space since 2016. Peter is a member of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, where for two and a half years he was accountable for the Blockchain lab. Peter is involved in a project which builds Kalipo, a DAO platform. Peter established the DAO Hub, where experts in the field of DAOs, legal, economics, value chains, token engineering, blockchain technology, governance, trust, and philosophy share knowledge about DAOs. They also participate in DAO experiments. Peter’s expertise is to translate blockchain technology into applications with customer and community value by making use of the specific features/characteristics of blockchain technology. These applications support new ways of collaboration and governance: less friction, more inclusive/democratic, and more added value. During the conference, Peter will explain how, with self-governance, to avoid (from a DAO-perspective) the need for regulation from outside regulators who (only/mostly) rely on the current legal system. Also, he will share his ideas on how it might be possible to include policymakers from the current legal system into a DAO. And by doing so, to create advocacy and ownership for legal sandboxing and generate recommendations for policy adjustments.