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商业 - 科技

区块链是否能改善银行服务?

在《财富》首届金融头脑风暴大会的一场研讨会上,与会嘉宾讨论了区块链的去中心化、监管等各种问题。

这是我在上周参加的一个圆桌讨论会的主题。作为上月举行的《财富》首届金融头脑风暴大会的一部分,这个圆桌讨论会以午餐会的形式开展,由我的同事骆杰峰主持,主题非常广泛,不仅涵盖去中心化技术的革命,还包括法规制定以及其他种种话题。

以下是发言人的讲话内容节选。

第一个主题涉及“去中心化与集中化”。纽交所的姊妹虚拟货币公司Bakkt的首席运营官亚当·怀特说,受到严格管制的行业,例如金融,“倾向于向集中化发展”,这倒是很正常。在谈到那些对那些未完全去中心化的项目颇有微词的评论家时,他说:“这些人完全理解错了。”他的观点是:集中化的服务可以为客户提供更好的服务。怀特认为,对比去集中化的交易所,集中化的虚拟货币交易所(他提到了自己的前任雇主Coinbase)能够更好地积累流动性,继而有着更好的业绩。

Clovyr是一家帮助人们测试区块链及相关产品的初创企业,其首席执行官安博·巴尔德特说,我们很难去衡量、甚至定义去集中化。人们不妨关注一下产生价值的“粘性权力聚合点”,而不是专注于单一的指标,例如网络上的节点分布,或与某个项目相关的开发者团队的规模和数字。她说:“不能只是说说而已,我们已经去中心化了吗?可能我们应该审视一下整个流程的供应链,然后弄清楚哪个环节出现了粘性,是谁用旧的防护装置替换了新装置,以及哪个部分的权力发生了变化。”

法规是当天讨论的另一个主题。区块链交易集团数字商务商会的创始人佩里安娜·博林指出,对于包括知名银行和初创金融公司在内的每一家机构来说,我们有必要齐心协力,说服监管方,尤其是美国的监管方,鼓励虚拟货币以及相关技术的发展。她说:“我们绝对有必要通过各种方式,让获选官员和其他大权在握的政府人士了解虚拟货币对于未来和所有人的意义。我们应该联合我们的力量,确保它能够成为国家的首要关注点。”

场外交易券商OTC Markets的首席执行官克罗姆威尔·卡尔森同意这一看法,并敦促人们尽快去华盛顿游说。他说:“在这里,我们有机会接触监管方,并向立法者施压,因为民主本身就是去中心化。不要只是对美国系统抱怨个不停,要参与其中,并推动其前行。”

其他人对于监管方审议意见的预期并不怎么乐观。加密货币资产组合跟踪商Gem的首席执行官米卡·温克尔斯贝特表示,他进入加密货币行业是因为他“对加密货币最初的去中心化愿景和使命以及设立加密货币的自有银行坚信不疑。”但随着讨论转变为规范加密货币托管方以及其他经纪商时,他觉得政策制定者们一直存在“短视”现象。

温克尔斯贝特说:“从长远的大方向来看,这一技术将得到改善。一开始,我们将为很多引发集中化现象的问题,以及相关的法律问题找到解决方案”。

总而言之,这场讨论会的召开可谓是恰逢其时。就在6月18日,Facebook发布了其颇具争议的Libra计划——一个全球性的加密货币。区块链技术身份识别公司Civic的首席执行官兼Multicoin Capital合伙人维尼·林汉姆对那些在对话中三句不离法律细节的人嗤之以鼻。他说:“就在他们担心现有金融系统的保护问题时,Facebook正在打造一个全新的系统”。

然而最终,Clovyr的巴尔德特在结束语中对讨论进行了精辟的总结:“这些对话永远赶不上该技术的发展速度。”

不管区块链是否会改善银行服务,但技术专家在背后付出的努力是毋庸置疑的。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校: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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