Tomorrow Conference 2022 — Highlights from Europe’s largest conference on NFTs, metaverse and blockchain technology
From 13 to 15 May, Tomorrow Conference 2022, Europe’s largest conference on NFTs, metaverse and blockchain technology, according to the organisers, took place in Belgrade for the first time. The three-day conference was attended by over 2,500 participants, and more than 15,000 people watched the event online.
More than 100 speakers took part on three stages, including Tanja Bivic Plankar — President of Blockchain Alliance Europe (BAE), Dejan Roljic — Founder and CEO of Eligma (GoCrypto) and Bruno Ver — CEO and co-founder of Niftify, an international company with Slovenian roots.
The conference was also attended by some members of the Bitcoin Association Slovenia — INVITED TO READ!
Why the F mass adoption?
As we already know, NFT is a unique, irreplaceable token based on blockchain technology. It can be imagined as a digital passport, which the user uses to prove ownership, authenticity and other information about a physical or digital object that cannot be altered. Bruno Ver of Niftify believes that we are still in the early stages of the development of NFTs and that there is still a long way to go before mass adoption.
He explained that mass adoption is considered when 15% to 20% of people worldwide use a certain item. However, according to the Financial Times and Chainalysis, around 360,000 people worldwide own NFTs as of 2021, representing around 4.7% of the world’s population. . “For mass adoption of NFTs, we need rules and governance [management, control],” Ver said, even though this may be a bit of a departure from Satoshi Nakamoto’s basic idea of decentralisation.
Ver went on to explain that he sees a future where NFTs replace barcodes on receipts: “As many as 55% of people lose their tickets within two weeks. NFTs could solve this problem.” A merchants receipt written on an NFT using blockchain technology also couldn’t be destroyed or altered, and the transaction would be completely digital.
And while the term ‘digital commerce’ may bring to mind the plight of the elderly, they are unlikely to feel much of a difference. With the mass adoption of NFTs, the use of this technology is likely to be simplified and standardised, similar to what happened with the internet or electricity. Even though we may not know exactly how certain technologies work, we still benefit from them — and this requires “rules and governance”.
While Niftify has recently updated its online marketplace or platform for creating, buying, selling and sharing NFTs, the company is also investing in creating strong legal teams across continents to gain a tactical competitive advantage in the area of mass adoption.
Gender inequality gap
On the first day of the conference, a panel discussion entitled ‘Wonderwomen in NFT: Attracting venture capitalists to invest in NFT projects’ took place on the main stage, where participants discussed the importance of including women in the blockchain ecosystem.
(From left to right) Dajana Ko (DK Advisors), Megan Plisky (Crypto Megan), Tanja Bivic Plankar (BAE), Aleksa Mil (WACEO) and Ana Nives Radovic (TeslaWatt) addressed the many gaps in gender inequality and discussed how women can take the lead in creating opportunities and harnessing potential.
Bivic Plankar has been an active member of the blockchain community since 2017, and since March 2018 she has been the president of the non-profit organisation Blockchain Alliance Europe (BAE). She has led or participated in a number of blockchain-related projects. She believes that “such conversations are necessary and meaningful at the moment and only structured action by all stakeholders can overcome the current gender gaps in ICT and blockchain technology.” The panellists also stressed out that women themselves need to carve out a space for themselves in the blockchain field, and that female role models, decision-makers and also investors are important for increasing women’s decision-making in this field.
BAE brings together companies and legal entities to help each other develop, network, collaborate and educate. All with the aim of mass adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets, and to make Europe a leading global destination in this field. On the second day of the conference, BAE’s President, in her speech ‘NFTs: Just another hype?’, also talked about the utility of NFTs.
The utility of NFTs and the chasm before the mass adoption
She first presented Slovenian examples of NFT promotional campaigns, including the ‘I feel sLOVEnia NFT’ collection, which contains 15,000 NFTs from different tourist destinations in Slovenia, Argetties, the NFTs of the meat and fish pate producer Argeta, and the ‘Portorose goats’ from the ‘Portorose NFT Collection’ presented by the Portorose Tourist Board. Projects like this are good for building community, reaching unreachable ‘digital natives’, showing progressive thinking and creating good public relations.
But on the other hand, they currently lack a supportive environment or ecosystem, entrepreneurial ideas could be more distributed, they don’t engage the community, the cost-performance ratio is not the best, and people often have problems with the user experience, Bivic Plankar explained, adding, “We would have been wise to learn from previous ‘hypes’ [ICO rush 2017, 2018], but instead we have learned nothing about why utility is so important in a project.”
She then presented a graph of mass adoption and said that we are currently at a stage called ‘chasm’. The concept of a chasm comes from the book ‘Crossing the Chasm’ (Geoffrey Moore), where the author explains that a chasm exists because after a certain point sales of a product to early adopters reach stagnation. The next stage of growth is to get the product out to the masses, and it has to go through four smaller stages: complacency and marginalization, ridicule, criticism, acceptance.
Bivic Plankar continued that standardisation, legal certainty and regulation, effective use cases, professionalism and high-quality projects follow the chasm. She presented the STEP’N project as an example of good practice. This is a Web3 application where users equip themselves with NFTs in the form of sports shoes and then earn coins by walking, jogging or running outdoors, which can later be converted into euros or dollars. The app works on a ‘walk-to-earn’ concept.
The future of payments
Dejan Roljic, a Slovenian entrepreneur with a wide range of experience, also spoke on the first day. He founded his first company at the age of 16, and ten years later he founded ABC Accelerator, which connects start-ups across Europe and in Silicon Valley. In 2017, he also founded Eligma, which reaches more than 68,000 stores and services worldwide with its smart commerce solutions through the GoCrypto payment system. Their services can currently be used by more than 150 million users.
Roljic said on the conference that many traditional providers of financial systems and services are usually unable to keep up with all the innovations in the digital age, often refuting them by claiming that they are pointless or unnecessary. “Visa’s payment scheme has remained virtually unchanged from 1959 to 2015, only the complexity of payments has increased. Why? If you make the system complex enough, no one will be able to distract you,” Roljic said.
He explained that the biggest revolution in payment methods is “just around the corner”, but that the current payment infrastructure prevents traditional brick-and-mortar stores from keeping up with the rapid pace of transformation led by online stores. “We are the missing link,” said Roljic, adding that they have developed a simple and comprehensive software solution for merchants. For example, throughout Slovenia, GLS Slovenia’s services can be paid for via Eligma’s Elly POS terminal.
Roljic also presented his vision for the future of payments — the so-called GoCrypto 2.0, which is already under development. The upgraded GoCrypto 2.0 solution will enable truly decentralised payments, and the merchant will be able to accept virtually any currency and receive settlement in the desired cryptocurrency without an intermediary and, thanks to blockchain technology, completely secure.
At the conference in Belgrade, there were quite a few Slovenians
At the conference, we met a number of Slovenians from the crypto and blockchain industry, including Ivo Grlica, founder of GrlicaLaw. Their vision is to offer a new kind of law firm: an online legal service, independent of location, but with an individual and boutique approach to each client. GrlicaLaw’s areas of practice include cryptocurrencies and DeFi (Fin-Tech), all types of litigation, tax law, and one of their main specialisations is Information Technology (IT) law.
Ivo Grlica also highlighted the fiasco with the Luna cryptocurrency and the Terra USD stablecoin (UST), which are tokens of the Terra blockchain network. “This is a very big blow for cryptocurrencies,” said Grlica, adding that although we may have just got used to the volatility of cryptocurrencies, at least for stablecoins we thought that they would actually remain stable. “We may not yet be fully aware of the implications of this blow for the entire crypto segment.”
We also met Marko Pavlovic, who is one of the managers of the GoldHorn Crypto strategies that can be found on Iconomi. Pavlovic said: “The crypto ecosystem is evolving and expanding further globally, demonstrating a new investment class supported by institutional investors with continuous liquidity.” His assertion was later backed up by one of the speakers on the conference’s main stage.
DeFi, DAOs and crypto investing
On the last day of the Tomorrow Conference, Craig Sellars, founder of the cryptocurrency or stablecoin Tether, also spoke. Sellars works in a variety of roles; co-founder, technologist, accelerator, CEO, diplomat and advisor for several blockchain projects, companies and organisations. Unfortunately, we missed his talk because we were on our way home, but he spoke about what it really means to own your data, identity and assets, and about building a decentralised network of trust.
The opening ceremony on the first day of the conference was followed by an exclusive panel discussion on creator economies and NFTs of the future. The interesting feature of this debate was that it was held in a metaverse for the first time in Europe and only the second time in the world, albeit with minor technical difficulties.
Another popular topic among speakers and conference participants was decentralised autonomous organisations, or DAOs. This is a form of blockchain-based organisation, often run by its own crypto token. Anyone who purchases and holds these tokens gains the ability to vote on important matters directly related to the DAO. They typically use smart contracts instead of traditional corporate structures to coordinate multiple efforts and resources to achieve common goals. Various speakers stressed that, as with NFTs and cryptocurrencies, regulation is very important for DAOs to move forward.
Of course, there was also talk of investing in cryptocurrencies, but it was stressed that investors first need to have a good understanding of traditional financial markets, as the principles of investing are the same. For example, Robert Lonsdorfer of Hundred X said in a speech entitled ‘Investing 3.0’ that every investor needs a good plan first, advised against ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’ and spending more than you earn. He pointed out that while cryptocurrencies can be much more profitable than, for example, shares, they are also much riskier.
The conference also had a charitable note, thanks to Unicef’s ‘crypto4good’ project. Through 25 donations in exchange for unique NFTs, nearly $2000 was raised, of which partner companies donated three times the amount for every dollar contributed.
Tomorrow Conference 2022 was very well organised and the host city, the capital of Serbia, did not disappoint — we had no problems finding great food and drinks in Belgrade. The response from members of the Bitcoin Association Slovenia (BDS), and other Slovenians who attended the conference, was positive, and there were plenty of opportunities for networking and connecting in different areas.
We also met Igor Milosevic from Montenegro, founder of the non-profit organisation ADP-Zid, which will organise the Montenegro Blockchain Forum 2022 in Podgorica at the end of May. He and BDS president, Toni Cepon, discussed regulation and other areas of blockchain technology in both countries.
The end of the three-day trip to Belgrade can be summed up in Cepon’s own words, who said, somewhat jokingly (and probably because he is the president of the Bitcoin Association), “After all we’ve heard, Bitcoin is still number one. That’s all that counts.”
Author: Rok Zontar