Berkeley web3 and crypto summit tackles financial inclusion, climate issue

Crypto industry leaders, academics, government and consumer groups collaborated on blockchain policy and regulation at a summit last week organized by the Berkeley Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence and the California Department of Economic Protection and Innovation. (UC Berkeley photo by Julian Meyn)

How do we incentivize the use of climate-friendly blockchains? Should lawmakers play a key role in creating opportunities for underserved communities through crypto and Web3? And what can the crypto-asset industry do to ensure that wealth creation opportunities are accessible to historically excluded communities?

All these questions and more were discussed at a summit on “Responsible Innovation in Crypto and the Web3” held at UC Berkeley last week. The conference brought together industry leaders, government officials, faculty experts, consumer advocates and investors to collaborate and discuss innovative solutions to challenging problems in the blockchain and web3 industry.

Web3 is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web that incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies, and a token-based economy.

Carol Christ speaking at the summit

Chancellor Carol Crist spoke at the summit. (UC Berkeley photo by Julian Meyn)

Berkeley is a “hotbed of innovation” and the perfect place for this conversation, Chancellor Carol Crist said last Wednesday as she welcomed the group of leaders.

“This is a university committed to approaching society’s challenges and opportunities from every possible angle,” Christ said. “We are very proud of the role our campus community plays in maintaining California’s leadership in advancing and protecting emerging technologies while never losing sight of the public interest.”

Crypto assets are digital assets – where transactions are verified and maintained by blockchain networks of decentralized nodes and operators – that focus on the principles of decentralization, immutability and self-sovereignty.

But the systems in which these assets operate are not as regulated as traditional currency, leaving many to wonder what their full impact is on the economy and investors.

Wednesday’s summit consisted of three panels that addressed understanding the environmental impact of crypto assets, identifying ways to increase access to responsible and innovative crypto products for underserved Californians, and how to advance blockchain investment and wealth in historic underserved communities.

Dawn Song, Carol Christ and Lourdes Castro

From left to right: Berkeley RDI Co-Director Dawn Song, Chancellor Carol Christ and California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. (UC Berkeley photo by Julian Meyn)

Panelist and Berkeley graduate Ezra Garrett, who helps run an AI-powered digital banking platform, said financial technology, or fintech, companies must commit to making a connection between the growth of their businesses and the economic health of the communities they serve. they serve.

Having the summit on campus, Garrett said, “is a wonderful validation” of Berkeley’s continued leadership in the state.

“Being on the cutting edge of emerging technologies and finding ways to orient those emerging technologies toward solving problems for the underserved is absolutely in the DNA of this institution,” he said.

Held in Chou Hall at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the day-long session was co-organized by Berkeley’s Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence (RDI) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). More than 60 leaders in industry, academia and government attended, including California State Treasurer Fiona Ma and California Business, Consumer and Housing Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez.

Photo of the summit

“We are all committed to building an inclusive stakeholder engagement process as we work to provide greater regulatory certainty,” Ramírez said. (UC Berkeley photo by Julian Meyn)

Berkeley RDI is a campus-wide multidisciplinary initiative focused on web3 and decentralized technologies. Courses offered by RDI have trained nearly 1,000 students in blockchain/web3 at Berkeley. RDI also led the world’s first massive open online course (MOOC) on decentralized finance and entrepreneurship on the web3 with thousands of students participating from over 30 countries. RDI’s Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator has incubated 85 teams from around the world that have raised more than $450 million in further funding.

Last month, Coindesk, a news website specializing in digital assets, recognized Berkeley as the No. 1 university in the US for blockchain for the second year in a row.

“Berkeley RDI is working to enable a responsible digital economy with a deep emphasis on ‘responsibility,'” said Dawn Song, Berkeley professor and RDI co-director. “Our campus has a community of changemakers who are committed to the mission of ensuring that the future of Web3 serves the greater good.”

Berkeley Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Rich Lyons said California – with the fourth largest economy in the world – cannot lag behind other states in developing innovations and opportunities to grow the state’s economy through Web3 and blockchain technology .

The summit concluded last Wednesday with attendees sharing recommendations and actionable solutions that included a focus on improving public financial education and literacy by making industry knowledge accessible. Attendees also considered it important to find incentives for clean cryptocurrency mining — the process of creating new digital currencies — and ways to better disclose blockchain energy use.

A set of minimum standards for crypto companies to follow in their accounting, cybersecurity and risk management policies was another recommendation the group cited.

California DFPI Commissioner Clothilde Hewlett, who previously served as executive director of the Cal Alumni Association, led the summit and concluded the evening, saying the group’s conversations and recommendations will help inform the state’s regulatory approach to responsible crypto innovation for “the betterment of society.”

“Our approach will encourage the kind of innovation that is part of the DNA of this great state and this university,” Hewlett said. “And that’s not the end. This dialogue will continue.”

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