Blockchain conference poised for return to Edinburgh

Edinburgh will next month host the second annual summit for professionals engage in the burgeoning field of blockchain technology and research.

From left: Kent Mackenzie of Deloitte, Michael Young of MBN, Susan Ramonat of Spiritus and Ross Laurie of Deloitte. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Blockchain is the digital technique for proving ownership of assets and underpins the bitcoin electronic “cryptocurrency” cash system. Those working in the sector believe it has the potential to disrupt the financial services arena and a range of other industries.

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The ScotChain17 conference, to be held at Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn headquarters on 13 October, is being organised by specialist data science recruiter MBN, whose chief executive, Michael Young, said: “We are only now starting to understand this technology’s real, practical and full potential but there is so much more to discover and explore, including the impact blockchain is having and will increasingly impact on Scotland’s business scene and our overall society.”

“This year’s event switches up to focus on real, tangible applications together with the challenges and issues facing the technology and its adoption, the battle for blockchain talent and we’re be running hackathons, technical demonstrations and looking at proofs of concept on the day.”

ScotChain17 will include discussions around how blockchain technology is evolving and a global panel of experts will focus on areas including data privacy, collaboration and ethical issues. In June, the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics opened the doors to its Blockchain Technology Laboratory, one of the first centres of its kind.

Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy, will deliver the opening address to the event, which is supported by accounting giant Deloitte, analytics specialist Spiritus Partner and RBS.

Deloitte risk advisory director Kent Mackenzie, who has taken on the development of the “big four” firm’s financial technology business in Scotland, said: “Through a very strong financial services community, we have some leading developers locally exploring this space and, of course, we have some great academic minds in Edinburgh and beyond who are taking the thinking to new levels.

“I am incredibly excited and optimistic about the role Scotland can play in being leaders in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.”

Susan Ramonat, chief executive of Spiritus Partners, added: “We’ve worked with MBN to put together an exciting event, attracting thought leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs from the UK and US.

“Blockchain has burst into the mainstream. There’s much still to learn and, importantly, do in bringing its benefits to bear at the intersection of business, government and academia – the place where Scotland looks to shine in the future.”