Swell Day 2: Words of Wisdom from the Inventor of the Web and Industry Leaders Discuss Which Blockchain Should Rule Them All

The second day of Swell came to a close on Tuesday, and even though the first day of programming set a high bar, the second day set a new standard.

Watch our recap video from Swell Day 2

The Ripple team started the day with an hour-long keynote from the Inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Berners-Lee recounted how he saw an opportunity to bring together disparate components that existed in the early days of the internet, and how the web spurred connectivity not just between systems, but also people.

When one attendee asked Berners-Lee for his prediction on the future of blockchain as well as the internet, his answer leaned towards furthering connections and access to information.

“There is a time for creativity, there is a time for consortia [and] working together, and there is a time of consequences,” Berners-Lee said.

We Invite Our Partners to the Stage

Shortly after Berners-Lee left the stage, the second panel — featuring dLocal, Cambridge Global Payments, and UAE Exchange — discussed the market opportunity in cross-border payments and how they’re stealing market share from other banks.

Kausik Rajgopal, Corinne MacMillan, Sergio Fogel, Rahul Pai at Swell

“I think our customers are choosing our services today because we spend a lot of time understanding the customer need and driving a better user experience for them,” said Corinne MacMillan, CTO of Cambridge Global Payments.

Raul Pai, COO of UAE Exchange credited the success of his institution’s efforts to convenience.

“If you look at why customers choose us and how we were able to get to large processing volume, there’s only one answer — convenience. We try to put the customer at the center of any transaction. How can we make it faster?”

Kausik Rajgopal, the moderator, asked the panelists about the role they play in disrupting the marketplace and how this impacts relationships with banks.

dLocal took a contrarian point of view and said that they’re not disrupting the banks and financial institutions, but working with them to bring the best possible solution to the market for customers.

“In our case, we are helping disruptors getting into [corporates] like Airbnb…but we are not disrupting banks, we are making transactions happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen,” said Fogel.

Rahul Pai added his message to banks stating, “ We’re not here to compete. We need you; you need us.”

Watch the recording to hear how each of these companies struggle to find talent and how they plan to collaborate with FinTechs in the future.

Early Adopters Move First to Deploy Blockchain Solutions

Marcus Treacher, Global Head of Strategic Accounts for Ripple, gathered a distinguished panel on stage.

Panelists included the Innovation Lead at Banco Santander, Richard Bell; Hirofumi Aihara, General Manager, Digital Innovation, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ; Nobuo Ando Representative Director, SBI Remit Co., Ltd.; Paula De Silva, Head of Transaction Services, SEB; Dharmesh Desai, Group EVP, Yes Bank.

Treacher began the panel by asking how each company uses blockchain technology to drive results in their financial institutions.

“I did a lot of investigation and I wanted to see what kind of problem Ripple could solve, I looked across the major banks in the U.K. and looked at their service offerings for international payments, and I was shocked by what I saw.”

Marcus Treacher, Richard Bell, Nobuo Ando, Hirofumi Aihara, Paula Da Silva, Dharmesh Desai at Swell

Bell went on to describe how, after copious research, that most banks were advertising settlement times of eight to 14 days.

“This is quite incredible considering it was 2015. Back in the 1960s, Buzz [Aldrin] and his pals got to the moon and back in less time,” he added.

When asked the same question, Paula De Silva put it simply: “We do payments in 180 countries. We needed a faster and cheaper solution than what we have today.”

Watch the recording to learn how other banks deployed solutions that improved how they sent and tracked global payments.

The Future of Blockchain Lies in Interoperability

In the final, yet most-anticipated session of the day, leaders representing different approaches to blockchain and digital assets joined to debate the future of DLT, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies.

Panelists included Stefan Thomas, CTO of Ripple; Vitalik Buterin, Founder of Ethereum; Brian Behlendorf Executive Director of Hyperledger; and Tom Jessup, President of Chain.

Even though most in the audience were expecting a fiery debate about the divergent applications for blockchain, the tone of the discussion was friendly.

Michael Del Castillo, Vitalik Buterin, Brian Behlendorf, Stefan Thomas, Tom Jessup (not pictured) at Swell

The panel kicked off with Michael Del Castillo, a journalist with Coindesk, asking the panelists to describe the actual applications that have been created using protocols that they’ve built or represent.

“When I asked myself, ‘What does it mean for technology to be widely adopted?’ The thing that I realized is that it is interoperability,” said Thomas.

“You can’t lie in an ivory tower and imagine a perfect world and let people come to you. You can’t build things in insolation. You’re not going to enable people to come to you and join your vision.”

Buterin agreed somewhat by positioning Ethereum as a “public chain, in an open network where anyone can participate.”

When Castillo asked Buterin to identify the Ethereum Project’s competitors on the panel, Buterin did not take the bait: “We’re friends more than competitors.”

“Blockchain interoperability is very important. The key insight is that it’s not possible that everything is going to be on one blockchain,” he added.

To see Stefan Thomas’ answer to who is the competition, watch the recording.