Takeaways from a Blockchain Convention

Our Managing Director Belinda Filippelli recently attended the European Blockchain Convention (EBC) in Barcelona. As Europe’s premier blockchain event, EBC brought together more than 1,500 attendees from around the world to discuss the current state of blockchain and its promise for the future.

Keep reading for a Q&A with Belinda on her impressions of the event, thoughts on marketing for blockchain, and key takeaways for the GoViral Blockchain team.

Q: What was your overall feeling after attending EBC?

A: What was interesting to me about going to the European Blockchain Convention was that a lot of the excitement and passion around the event was very similar to what I experienced when I started working in the digital world in 1999. I was working in Switzerland for a nonprofit association for languages, localization and globalization. And during that time people were saying “Wow so if I have a website in another language then I can sell in different countries” and everybody was really excited about all of the opportunities that was going to bring. 

But also during that time there wasn’t a lot of regulation. This industry was really young. A lot of the talk was very idealized, but you could see that it was going to take a while for the rest of the world to catch up because technology runs so much faster

And now 25 years later, sitting in an event about blockchain and Web3 had the same kind of feeling. It was exciting once again to see this is an internet revolution that’s coming. But it’s going to be a very crowded marketplace, and it’s going to take a while before industries and legislation come together to make solutions more seamless for the user.

So my overall feeling was excitement. People are working on solutions for the future but my overall impression is that we’re still very far behind. The industry is still very immature.

Q: In terms of end users, what do you expect to come first? What would end users potentially notice first in the future?

A: One of the things that was really interesting was that one of the speakers, Benjamin Bilski from Nagax, showed statistics that in 1998 there were 200 million people who were using the internet and now in 2022 there are 200 million people who are using blockchain. So the idea is that we’re basically at the same place with Web3 as we were with the internet in 1998.

If you put yourself back in that place, what were people doing internet-wise? In 1998 there were 200 million users but people didn’t have it in their homes. They didn’t have it in their hands. They didn’t necessarily need it to work or so on. But it was something that was out there being used. And some people were saying “oh it’s just a trend, you know, it’s nothing.”

And then by 2006 smartphones were really starting to penetrate the market. So if you look at those eight years, you can see that we went from nobody really knowing what the internet was to people having the internet in their homes, starting to have to use it for their jobs, to actually having smartphones and internet in their hands at all times. And I think we’re looking at the same thing with blockchain. 

What exactly will enter the market I can’t say for sure, but I know specifically that with GoViral we’re working in the healthcare industry with the first industry backed movement to implement blockchain, the PharmaLedger project. You can see why they have the ability to do this because already these companies have implemented or taken on the technology they need to move to the blockchain. And that’s going to be handed to the user through different use cases, like eLeaflets that help you to see all the information about your medication. 

So what I see for end users is that it’s going to come from big providers, probably in the supply chain space. Definitely blockchain is not going to infiltrate the US by people getting on OpenSea and doing NFTs or trading cryptocurrency. That’s not going to be the mass way. It’s going to be just like in 1998 when people were on the internet to develop and create things, and then it started to come to users through their telephone providers, through their home TV providers and so on. That’s how I believe it’s gonna come.

Q: You’ve mentioned Web3 a few times. What does Web3 mean?

A: Basically Web1 was the first iteration of the internet where you could only read it. It was information that was up there for us to read. 

Web2 is what all of us know now. It’s what GoViral is built on. In Web2 you can publish and you can create: blogging, people being able to make off-the-shelf websites, social media. We suddenly had all this power to say “oh I have a voice now within the internet. I can talk back to my company, I can complain about a situation.” And that was awesome. 

That’s what I built GoViral on 11 years ago was empowering users and customers and teaching companies that they now needed to listen. And that meant a lot to me. But over a decade of me running this company, people are feeling less and less empowered by this voice they have on the internet because they have no control over their data, they have no control over where their data is sold and they have no governance within these platforms. So Web3 is going to be a shift like blockchain to decentralized content, where I as the publisher own my material, it’s transparent how my data is being used, and I can take part in governance.

One of the projects at EBC I particularly found interesting was Distrikt. I actually learned about them first in Dubai at the blockchain summit in October 2021. Distrikt is the first ever community-owned professional social network completely on the blockchain. So it’s definitely something that people can try right now. Right now they have 20,000 registered users. I just love the idea behind it. It’s a great way to show what I was talking about before, which is the idea that with Web2 users had a voice, but now they don’t feel so empowered and Web3 is going to give that empowerment again with ownership, transparency, and governance.

Q: From the marketing side, for Web3 and blockchain-enabled projects, it seems like one of the challenges would be to communicate what you were just talking about: the problems that this technology solves. What other challenges do you see in marketing for blockchain?

A: One of the questions on the marketing side is that there are so many barriers to people adopting new technology because they have so many years of mistrust. And there needs to be a real shift in the idea of what it means for our data, our digital data, to be centralized or decentralized. We also have to be able to explain in a simple way the importance of the shift from centralized to decentralized. 

But there are still going to be barriers. The most important thing is to show people how the technology is going to make their life better. And that’s not going to happen through a marketer like me, but through an industry coming and creating a solution.

I’m also working in pharma, and there’s a big mistrust of pharma. So it will be interesting to see how people accept this kind of information. But again, it’s technology that’s being offered to users that is not owned by someone, it’s not owned by these companies in pharma, they can’t use the data in any way. So I feel excited about it, but we’ll have to deal with a lot of negativity as well. Quite frankly in the 11 years of GoViral we’ve dealt with negativity because there are a lot of people who still hate social media and hate online marketing in general.

We just strive to make sure we’re doing work within the digital field that really matters to us, that isn’t taking advantage of users in order to gain money for companies, but really creating a nice community where companies are reaching the people that are most likely to want and need and appreciate what they’re offering. And without taking advantage of those users. At GoViral our way of creating inbound marketing and digital we’ve been really successful at that, and that’s the approach we take with blockchain solutions as well.

Q: What is your perspective on the vocabulary of blockchain and Web3? How do you address that as a marketer when, for example, people think of blockchain as synonymous with cryptocurrency?

A: When it comes to vocabulary and understanding, it just takes time. We can joke about having a family member that still calls it the world wide web, you know? Even in my own company we still will have conversations with clients where they’re describing their profile as a page or vice versa, so as a communicator words are important. 

This technology is going to give us a whole new language that nobody really understands. I think blockchain, NFTs, the metaverse – it’s all going to be kind of interchangeable and there’s not going to be a lot of understanding around it. And that is always the challenge.

But I find the most important thing is to always tell real-life case studies. It’s not so important to explain to the user “oh but this is ledger technology. We’re using crypto but it’s a blockchain-based, etc.” it’s more important that they just understand that now you don’t have to pay fees on transactions at your bank, you’re gonna see the money come up automatically, or you don’t have to go to a mortgage broker or use a lawyer to manage your money, or to refinance your home, or to create a will and testament in the future. 

All these things are going to empower us to be able to do things on the blockchain that we weren’t able to do before, but the most important thing is to show people that they now don’t need third-party intermediaries and that they’re going to save money. And that’s going to speak to them and make them adopt way more than even transparency, trust, and governance. Which is the blockchain line right now. I think the future will be: “Cheaper, Easier, and You Don’t Need to Talk to All These Other People.” That will be enough for people.


Are you working on a blockchain-related project? We want to hear about it! Share your ideas with us and we’ll be in touch.