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    區塊鏈是否能改善銀行服務?

    在《財富》首屆金融頭腦風暴大會的一場研討會上,與會嘉賓討論了區塊鏈的去中心化、監管等各種問題。

    這是我在上周參加的一個圓桌討論會的主題。作為上月舉行的《財富》首屆金融頭腦風暴大會的一部分,這個圓桌討論會以午餐會的形式開展,由我的同事駱杰峰主持,主題非常廣泛,不僅涵蓋去中心化技術的革命,還包括法規制定以及其他種種話題。

    以下是發言人的講話內容節選。

    第一個主題涉及“去中心化與集中化”。紐交所的姊妹虛擬貨幣公司Bakkt的首席運營官亞當·懷特說,受到嚴格管制的行業,例如金融,“傾向于向集中化發展”,這倒是很正常。在談到那些對那些未完全去中心化的項目頗有微詞的評論家時,他說:“這些人完全理解錯了。”他的觀點是:集中化的服務可以為客戶提供更好的服務。懷特認為,對比去集中化的交易所,集中化的虛擬貨幣交易所(他提到了自己的前任雇主Coinbase)能夠更好地積累流動性,繼而有著更好的業績。

    Clovyr是一家幫助人們測試區塊鏈及相關產品的初創企業,其首席執行官安博·巴爾德特說,我們很難去衡量、甚至定義去集中化。人們不妨關注一下產生價值的“粘性權力聚合點”,而不是專注于單一的指標,例如網絡上的節點分布,或與某個項目相關的開發者團隊的規模和數字。她說:“不能只是說說而已,我們已經去中心化了嗎?可能我們應該審視一下整個流程的供應鏈,然后弄清楚哪個環節出現了粘性,是誰用舊的防護裝置替換了新裝置,以及哪個部分的權力發生了變化。”

    法規是當天討論的另一個主題。區塊鏈交易集團數字商務商會的創始人佩里安娜·博林指出,對于包括知名銀行和初創金融公司在內的每一家機構來說,我們有必要齊心協力,說服監管方,尤其是美國的監管方,鼓勵虛擬貨幣以及相關技術的發展。她說:“我們絕對有必要通過各種方式,讓獲選官員和其他大權在握的政府人士了解虛擬貨幣對于未來和所有人的意義。我們應該聯合我們的力量,確保它能夠成為國家的首要關注點。”

    場外交易券商OTC Markets的首席執行官克羅姆威爾·卡爾森同意這一看法,并敦促人們盡快去華盛頓游說。他說:“在這里,我們有機會接觸監管方,并向立法者施壓,因為民主本身就是去中心化。不要只是對美國系統抱怨個不停,要參與其中,并推動其前行。”

    其他人對于監管方審議意見的預期并不怎么樂觀。加密貨幣資產組合跟蹤商Gem的首席執行官米卡·溫克爾斯貝特表示,他進入加密貨幣行業是因為他“對加密貨幣最初的去中心化愿景和使命以及設立加密貨幣的自有銀行堅信不疑。”但隨著討論轉變為規范加密貨幣托管方以及其他經紀商時,他覺得政策制定者們一直存在“短視”現象。

    溫克爾斯貝特說:“從長遠的大方向來看,這一技術將得到改善。一開始,我們將為很多引發集中化現象的問題,以及相關的法律問題找到解決方案”。

    總而言之,這場討論會的召開可謂是恰逢其時。就在6月18日,Facebook發布了其頗具爭議的Libra計劃——一個全球性的加密貨幣。區塊鏈技術身份識別公司Civic的首席執行官兼Multicoin Capital合伙人維尼·林漢姆對那些在對話中三句不離法律細節的人嗤之以鼻。他說:“就在他們擔心現有金融系統的保護問題時,Facebook正在打造一個全新的系統”。

    然而最終,Clovyr的巴爾德特在結束語中對討論進行了精辟的總結:“這些對話永遠趕不上該技術的發展速度。”

    不管區塊鏈是否會改善銀行服務,但技術專家在背后付出的努力是毋庸置疑的。(財富中文網)

    譯者:馮豐

    審校:夏林

    That was the subject of a roundtable discussion I attended (and co-programmed) at Fortune’s inaugural Brainstorm Finance conference last month. The conversation, moderated over lunch by my colleague Jeff Roberts, was a wide-ranging one. It covered the evolution of decentralized technologies, the path forward with respect to regulation, and a host of other related topics.

    Here’s a sampling of what the speakers had to say.

    The first theme to emerge involved decentralization versus centralization. Adam White, chief operating officer of Bakkt, the New York Stock Exchange’s sibling cryptocurrency venture, said that highly regulated industries, such as finance, “trend toward centralization,” and that’s just fine. To critics who denounce projects that are not fully decentralized, he said, “you’re missing the whole point.” His argument: Centralized services can provide better customer service. White noted that centralized cryptocurrency exchanges (his former employer, Coinbase, comes to mind) are better at aggregating liquidity than decentralized ones and, therefore, they perform better.

    Amber Baldet, CEO of Clovyr, a startup that aims to help people experiment with blockchains and the like, said it’s tricky to measure, or even define, decentralization. Rather than focus on single metrics—such as the distribution of nodes on a network, or the size and number of developer teams associated with a given project—people had better be on the lookout for “sticky power aggregation points,” where value accrues. “More than just talking about, Are we decentralized yet?, maybe we should be looking at the supply chain of this whole process and figuring out who’s getting sticky, who’s just replacing this new guard with the old guard, and where power is shifting,” she said.

    Regulation was another theme of the day. Perianne Boring, founder of Chamber of Digital Commerce, a blockchain trade group, said it is important for everyone—from established banks to upstart fintech firms—to band together and persuade regulators, especially in the U.S., to encourage the development of cryptocurrencies and related technologies. “It is absolutely imperative that we figure out ways that our elected officials and those that serve in the highest powers of government understand what this is going to mean to our future, for everybody,” she said. “We should be unifying our voices and ensuring that this is a national priority.”

    Cromwell Coulson, CEO of OTC Markets, a financial firm that deals in over-the-counter securities, agreed, urging people to visit Washington, D.C. “We have a chance here to engage regulators, to put pressure on legislators, because democracy is, by its nature, decentralized,” he said. “Instead of just complaining about the U.S. system, be part of it and move it forward.”

    Others were less thrilled with the prospect of regulatory deliberations. Micah Winkelspecht, CEO of Gem, a cryptocurrency portfolio tracker, said that he came into the cryptocurrency industry because he “believed in the original vision and mission” of decentralization, of being one’s own bank. But as the discussion has shifted to regulating cryptocurrency custodians and other intermediaries, he has felt as though policymakers have become “shortsighted.”

    “In the grand, long scheme of things the technology will improve,” Winkelspecht said. “We will find solutions to a lot of the problems that caused centralization”—and many resulting legal questions—“in the first place.”

    All in all, the session could not have been better timed. The roundtable came a day after Facebook debuted its controversial plans for Libra, a globe-spanning cryptocurrency. Vinny Lingham, CEO of Civic, a blockchain-based identity firm, and partner at Multicoin Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused investment firm, took a dig at anyone overly preoccupied with the legal niceties that dominated much of the conversation. “You’re worrying about protecting the existing financial system,” he said. Facebook “is building a new one.”

    Ultimately though, it was Clovyr’s Baldet who summed up the discussion best at its conclusion: “The technology is moving way faster than these conversations ever will.”

    Whether or not blockchains will indeed enable better banks to be built, there’s no doubting the commitment of those technologists trying.

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