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Wrapping up Devcon4

Last week, more than 3,000 blockchain engineers, thinkers and investors descended on the city of Prague for the 4th Annual Ethereum Developers Conference. The ethos of an open financial system was on full display as everyone came together to ideate on and solve some of the toughest challenges facing Ethereum and blockchains today. Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights from our week.

DeFi Summit
We kicked off the week at DeFi Summit, the second event in a new series hosted by a number of startups building the new decentralized financial infrastructure. Alex Kern of Coinbase’s identity team and Ron Bernstein of Paradex gave a presentation called, “The Future of Permissioned Relays”. They talked about how relays could incorporate certain KYC elements and enable the trading of permissioned assets like securities. The presentation included a cool demo that showcased how Paradex, a relay product, could one day make use of this utility.

“Future of Permissioned Relays” Talk (L-R): Alex Kern (Coinbase Identity), Ron Bernstein (Paradex)

We also hosted a conversation called, “How Stablecoins Unlock an Open Financial System,” led by Emre Tekisalp, Business Development Lead on Coinbase Wallet. Stablecoins, like Coinbase’s own USDC, are essentially programmable money that is easy to send to friends, use in applications, and store on your device without needing a bank account, while also protecting users from the volatility we see in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

They’re becoming a critical piece of the decentralized financial system that we believe will open the door to better tools, access and user experiences. We had a great discussion with attendees on what we can focus on in the short term to get stablecoin-friendly products into the hands of millions of people.

“How Stablecoins Unlock an Open Financial System” Talk: Emre Tekisalp (Coinbase Wallet)

We wrapped up DeFi with a panel on security tokens where Ron Bernstein represented Paradex and shared thoughts on why security tokens and decentralized trading tech stack is a more efficient way to trade securities and, more importantly, what some of the key pieces we’re working on to make this a reality.

Security Token panel (L-R): Ron Bernstein (Paradex), Connor Spelliscy (Zeppelin), Robert Bent (Ethereum Foundation), and Thomas Borrel (Polymath)

Devcon4

Devcon is the main annual conference for developers building the Ethereum blockchain and applications on top of it. Over four days, attendees had the opportunity to learn from leading figures in the space, discuss technical challenges, collaborate on new creative solutions, and meet new folks. Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that this year’s event was a huge success, both in terms of content, organization and production value. Huge kudos to the Ethereum Foundation and all volunteers for putting on such a successful event for the crypto industry!

Devcon kicked off with Day 0 and a UX Workshop called, “Designing for Humans,” hosted by Coinbase’s Director of Design, Connie Yang and IDEO CoLab’s Tara Tan. It was incredibly energizing to see so many people thinking about how sound design is necessary to make highly technical applications useable. It shows that we’re at the stage of the maturation cycle for crypto where developers want their products to be easy and intuitive to use. Perhaps a leading indicator for a larger number of widely used products coming in a few months, it was great to see UX become an official track all throughout the conference.

“Designing for Humans” Workshop (L-R): Tara Tan (IDEO), Connie Yang (Coinbase Design)

The next day, Sid Coelho-Prabhu, Product Lead for Coinbase Wallet, gave a widely attended talk titled “Getting to a Million Dapp Users.” Decentralized apps (DApps) are recognized as one of the main ways in which crypto and blockchains will be used by millions of users, but we’re not quite there yet. He covered some of the specific challenges the industry needs to tackle in order to bring these tools to more users. He highlighted finding the right use case, useability of dapps, and increasing scalability as the three key challenges. He also talked about what we at Coinbase Wallet are working on to help with these issues and get the millions of users through the gateway.

“Getting to a Million DApp Users” Talk: Sid Coelho-Prabhu (Coinbase Wallet)

Our next talk was on how Coinbase safely handles detecting contract transfers on Ethereum for its millions of users everyday. Coinbase’s Jake Craige shared some of our learnings from the past years and best practices with the audience in a session called “Smart Contracts: Approach with Caution.” Running such an operation at this scale truly leaves some battle scars and we’d like to make sure others learn from our mistakes and have a far easier job!

“Smart Contracts: Approach with Caution” Talk: Jake Craige (Coinbase Payments)

We wrapped up the week with a panel titled, “Integrating Ethereum at Scale,” hosted by Coinbase’s Eric Scrivner and Jake Craige. Along with the other panelists, Morgan from ShapeShift and Ben Chan from BitGo, we covered the biggest challenges for companies running large scale operations and mitigations. It was a deeply engaging conversation for the panel and the audience.

Integrating Ethereum at Scale panel (L-R): Eric Scrivner (Coinbase), Morgan (Shapeshift), Ben Chan (BitGo), Jake Craige (Coinbase)

It was a blast to be at Devcon this year! The event served as another reminder that there are a lot of amazing teams and minds building in this space. Crypto may have a lot of big and hairy technical challenges ahead of it, but we have no doubt that the community that’s forming will tackle and solve them one-by-one.

Our Coinbase Wallet team was happy to meet new folks and old friends at our Devcon booth
We also hosted a fun happy hour. Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by!

We hope to see everyone again next year. Thanks for coming by, saying hi, and creating an open financial system with us! If you’re as energized about this new financial future as we are, come help us build it. We have openings across the board, so be sure to check out our open positions.

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Wrapping up Devcon4 was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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