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Regulation stole the show at Barcelona’s European Blockchain Convention

Some 2,500 crypto-curious blockchain believers descended on Barcelona’s Hyatt Tower conference suites last week in a networking bonanza. The 8th edition of the European Blockchain Convention, and the fourth occurrence in Barcelona, also coincided with Bitcoin (BTC) sitting tight below $25,000.

Despite an over 60% crypto drawdown, the conference was packed, and reportedly 2,500 attendees from banks, blockchain companies and crypto drank in the sights and sounds of the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. Nonetheless, the crypto scars of 2022 are still tender and raw; many attendees raised real concerns about regulation and rules. 

Cointelegraph’s Hall speaks to EBC cofounder Victoria Gago. Source: José Val Bal

Among the clarion calls for regulation were bankers from major European institutions: Santander, HSBC and Société Générale shared stages and rubbed shoulders with crypto natives and blockchain maximalists.

However, contrary to expectation, it was the crypto-native camp that was quick to recognize the issues of 2022 and who was first to call for clearer instruction from regulators.

Stef Wynendaele, a crypto native who heads up commercial strategy for KeyRock, told Cointelegraph that he’s “wildly in love with Bitcoin,” and that “questioning the establishment” is an important tenet to crypto. That said, a collaborative environment between institutions and disruptors may be the most productive path forward:

“Everybody says, ‘We don’t want to talk with the banks, we don’t want to know what they’re doing, etc.’ But they’ve actually been around for 300 or 400 years. They have a lot of experience on how to do things actually, or how not to do things.”

In such an environment, Wynendaele explains it’s no longer a question of “us vs. them,” i.e., crypto vs incumbents, especially as the market will eventually decide the best outcome.

Patrick Heusser, the chief commercial officer at Crypto Finance, echoed his comments. He told Cointelgraph: “I would say it’s not everything that’s been done in traditional finance is wrong. Regulation is not always wrong.”

Heusser during one of the panels at EBC. Source: José Val Bal

Cathy We, Investment Associate at NGC Ventures, offered a contrarian view on regulation, at least for the short term. She told Cointelegraph that “The type of scrutiny we’re seeing in the market from regulators is something that obviously is not good to see in this bear market in the short term.”

Cointelegraph’s Yana Prikhodchenko introduces the CT acceleration award. Source: José Val Bal

“In the long term, it will actually create such a much better environment for everybody, for liquidity, for a lot of the new ideas to form safely and for talent, she added”

“You want your best talent to work in a very compliant environment, so they don’t get caught and get go to jail or any of that. So I think I think regulation was the long term is going to be super helpful.”

Indeed light of a bear market in which the likes of FTX, Luna, Celsius and BlockFi blackened the crypto industry’s reputation, John Murillo, who spent decades in traditional finance, summed up the industry’s needs succinctly:

“Regulation brings transparency. Transparency ultimately brings credibility, and credibility is what everyone is seeking for.”

While regulation was the mot du jour, innovation and disruption to the traditional finance space were excitedly spoken about.

Related: Market makers in the crypto industry: party planners or bartenders?

A new phrase was coined during the conference, “recycle to earn.” The phrase is blockchain company Circularr’s slogan, which participated and then won the CT accelerator prize.

Circularr took home the prize worth $35,000. Pictured Daniel Salmeron (EBC), Eric Vogel (Circularr), Victoria Gago (EBV) and Prikhodchenko. Photo: José Val Bal

Circularr is a blockchain-based recycling pioneer who hopes to bring trust back to recycling. The team won a $35,000 value grant courtesy of Cointelegraph following a slick one-minute pitch on stage during the start-up pitch competition. The startup pitch brought the conference to a climax and reminded the audience of the Web3 industry’s roots, that of disruption, innovation and ownership.