Fireblocks’ second annual user conference, SPARK ‘23, saw nearly 600 attendees representing over 300 companies in the digital asset and crypto space. Kicking off the conference was the welcome reception, which featured a spectacular drone show. The display set the tone for what SPARK is about – innovation and community.

The conference empowers customers to maximize the full potential of the Fireblocks platform while forging new alliances with fellow leaders. This year’s content themes were centered on security, compliance, and technology innovation and were presented through expert panels, workshops, and hands-on labs. 

Read on for key highlights from the first day of sessions at SPARK ’23.

Tapping into the 10x utility of crypto

Michael Shaulov, Fireblocks CEO and Co-Founder, opened the conference with an energetic keynote, quoting Peter Theil, a best-selling author who coined the concept of 10 times improvement, saying, “As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage.”

He described how regulators would be more willing to draft innovative regulations to explore better systems if we, as innovators, can prove that crypto rails are secure and perform better than traditional approaches. 

  • Tokenization: Internet native money can be more powerful than traditional banking rails. Frameworks for adopting tokenized deposits, stablecoins, and CBDCs are surfacing in places like the EU, UK, Japan, Brazil, India, Singapore, and Australia. There is a stablecoin bill in the U.S. An interesting use case that has evolved in the last 12 months is using crypto rails and stablecoins to deliver humanitarian aid to complex geographies.
  • DeFi: Generating real-time yield 24/7 through DeFi using a sustainable mechanism, namely tokenized money market funds and digital bonds, are being brought to the market by established asset managers and specialized startups. New products will have an important impact not only in the crypto space, where it will allow us to natively capture yield on stablecoins in a regulated fashion, but for many merchants, enterprises, and consumers outside the crypto ecosystem
  • Technology: Looking into 2024, we will need advancements in blockchain’s decentralized and cryptographic capabilities to remove counterparty risk. The market requires more sophisticated custody models to encourage transparency, key management, and settlement guarantees. He committed that Fireblocks will continue to innovate the platform in MPC, smart contracts, and DeFi.

Michael concluded by emphasizing Fireblocks’ commitment to supporting customers in their 10x initiatives by exploring innovative opportunities and, most importantly, continuing to foster long-term partnerships.

Trading and Liquidity

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball: What Does 2024 Look Like for Trading and Liquidity? 

With the regulatory environment in flux, a spot Bitcoin ETF on the horizon, inflation running rampant, and geopolitical risks, there’s much to consider when evaluating the trading and liquidity environment. Experts took the stage in a noteworthy panel focused on the future of crypto trading, discussing what they see coming in 2024.

Key takeaways

  • More regulatory clarity in legitimate regulatory regimes, including the U.S., is coming.
  • Conversions from liquidity between DeFi automated market-making and centralized exchanges will allow users and liquidity providers to get the best of both worlds.
  • Investors will explore different options and products to help them hedge risks, similar to what we have seen in financial markets.
  • Investors are getting more sophisticated with their instruments, actively using options to express their directional views and hedge their positions.

Investments Trends

A VC Perspective: Emerging Trends and Areas of Growth in the Digital Asset Space

A panel of top VCs investing in digital assets shared their perspectives on the market, what they look at when considering new investment opportunities, and the latest ideas and innovations. 

Notable investment opportunities offering a glimpse of where crypto is going include:

  • The convergence of Blockchain and AI is a new growth area VCs are paying attention to, focusing on solving data analytics for on-chain and off-chain to improve user experiences. 
  • Consumer gaming and social are areas of interest, specifically understanding how much time someone spends in an app. Cryptocurrency products are evolving, leveraging stablecoins, wallet services, and more. The ability to analyze and understand in-app trends to better support a user experience will be a compelling capability.
  • We’re entering a 99-cent app phase for crypto. People are intrigued by crypto and are willing to test the technology via mobile apps. We are seeing fun apps hitting the market; some apps will stand the test of time, and some won’t. It has been a long time since consumer social has reinvented itself, and we are starting to see consumer social advancements in crypto more than anywhere else. 

Advancements in Web3 

The Makings of A Successful Web3 Loyalty Program

Panelists from some of the biggest companies shared their experiences with Web3, and where they see its future. The conversation centered on the promise of Web3, adoption challenges, loyalty programs, and the importance of ensuring wallets are well connected to enable a seamless experience for end users.

Key takeaways:

  • Web3 adoption: The value lies in the brand itself. You put your brand on the line when you enter a relationship with another brand. Innovating on the blockchain can be seen as controversial, adding more risk. Web2 brands are curious and beginning to think about Web3 possibilities or are exploring options behind the scenes. 
  • Loyalty programs: Web2 mostly focuses on transactional relationships, and companies seek new ways to engage with customers. Traditional approaches don’t necessarily appeal to younger generations. Many people already participate in 10+ traditional Web2 loyalty programs. The Web3 promise is centered around community building, and loyalty programs can help brands differentiate themselves and get the consumer’s attention in new digital and immersive ways. 
  • Marketing tech stack: Web2 companies need a more mature marketing stack to deliver compelling experiences to build communities. One question merchants ask is, “Who are my customers?” We have moved into a world where consumers are private browsing by default. Domains can no longer talk to each other and share context. Web3 provides context to create custom experiences. Everything is public and shareable. Additionally, when someone connects their wallet, they are providing consent to participate in the community or loyalty program.
  • Fragmented wallets: We need a solution to connect fragmented wallets. Wallets can solve the current state where a single person has multiple identities for different digital products. Wallets are “context drivers” for delivering unique experiences, and linking wallets is going to be a must-have in Web3. 


Cross-border payment opportunities and challenges

Cross-border payments are defined as money movement between the payer and recipient in two countries. A panel of experts discussed how cross-border payments are crucial in day-to-day operations.

The following real-world use case shared during the panel discussion amplifies the value of cross-border payments on the blockchain.

Real-world digital asset B2B cross-border payments use case.
  • Industry: B2B global importers in the container shipping business. In this industry, minutes and seconds matter.
  • Challenge: A company’s container ship sat in a Southeast Asian port, waiting for a payment to refuel the ship. Traditional cross-border payments would take days to process the wire transfer, requiring the crew to sit and wait, costing the importer millions of dollars in fees and wages. 
  • Solution: Cross-border payments via the blockchain cut the payment transfer from 4 days to 15 minutes, saving the importers time and millions of dollars.

Key takeaways:

  • Merchant verticals interested in cross-border payments and settlement.
  • Fintech companies are focused on building both on-ramp and off-ramps to make the end-to-end flow seamless, such as understanding the liquidity of a stablecoin with the local currency before remittance. 
  • The types of currencies used for cross-border payments are based on the jurisdiction of the transactions, the region’s regulatory requirements, and market demand.
  • There is a demand for more regulatory clarity in the U.S.
  • A popular currency for B2B transactions is USDT-TRC20 because it is practical and cheaper. 

The first day of sessions was filled with informative and thought-provoking insights. It’s important to note that this blog summary only covers a fraction of the great content from the day. Numerous discussions and presentations aren’t mentioned here, each contributing significantly to the event’s richness. The learning transitioned to celebration, where we honored the achievements of our peers at the Fireblocks Network Awards. Stay tuned for day two highlights from SPARK ‘23. 

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