Five things we learned at CordaCon 2021

We can’t believe it’s already been two months since CordaCon 2021! Once again, R3’s annual flagship conference was a content-packed event with thought-provoking insights not only from R3 but from our entire community – including banks, FMIs, regulators, and app-builders from a wide range of industries and backgrounds.

More than 100 CordaCon sessions are available to view on-demand so to help you decide which to watch we’ve compiled a list of the top five themes and highlighted some sessions that support these topics. We really struggled to keep it to only five so watch this space for more recommendations.

This year’s conference featured over 175 speakers who spoke on the importance of digital trust and how we can work together to build the basis for a fully digital economy. During CordaCon, it was recognized time and time again that there are 3 key requirements needed for direct digital collaboration: trust technology for multi-party applications, connected networks and ecosystems, and regulated markets expertise.

Please note – you only need to register ONCE to access the full library of over 100 presentations!

How Corda and R3 are supporting the digitization of capital markets

1. Regulated market participants trust R3

Financial services is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world – and one where R3 has the most solid footprint of any blockchain platform provider. We were truly honored to have Dr. Robert Barnes from London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as keynote for Day 1 of CordaCon.

In his presentation on Orchestrating the regulated digital ecosystem, Dr. Barnes discussed LSEG’s DLT vision of realizing the digital transformation of global financial markets by driving financial stability, empowering economies, and enabling customers to create sustainable growth. He went on to explain how LSEG’s Sandbox 5 system, developed on Corda, demonstrates how securities can be dematerialized directly onto DLT, and how a CSD authorized settlement entity can authorize delivery vs payment and provide certainty on settlement finality with pre-funding checks and locking of assets.

But Corda is not just for large organizations such as exchanges. In  Digital Assets, Corda, and the Future of Capital Markets, startup organizations Montis Digital, Deposit Book, Ownera and Instimatch share the capital markets uses cases they have built on R3’s trust technology. Their short presentations demonstrate how Corda supports the digitization of capital markets whilst bringing the benefits of transparency, regulatory-grade privacy, security, and high scalability. It’s one to watch if you are an entrepreneur looking to build a capital markets focused CorDapp.

2. CBDC is no longer an innovative idea, it’s getting closer to reality by the day 

Barely a day goes by without another piece of news about CBDCs so it’s no surprise that it’s on the list of hot topics at CordaCon! If you are new to CBDC, check out the session Central Bank Digital Currencies: From 101 to 401. A panel of experts describes what a CBDC is and why there is currently so much interest in them and other forms of digital currency such as stablecoins. Discover how R3 has worked with organizations around the world to develop the R3 Sandbox for Digital Currencies and why this is providing a much-needed learning and development platform for banks and payment services providers alike.

Research suggests that CBDCs are being looked at by more than 80% of central banks around the world but the APAC region is widely recognized as a trailblazer in their development and adoption. In the Deep Dive into Digital Assets & CBDCs session, R3’s Willy Lim hosts a panel of regional experts from the Asian Development Bank, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to delve into some of the real projects that are moving beyond the lab environment.

The panel discusses how in recent years central banks have become more familiar with the features of CBDC including programmable money, tokenization, and movement of value. The panellists also discuss how they have started to see that the focus of exploration has expanded from central banks to include a much broader ecosystem of commercial banks, exchanges and technology providers, and how digital currencies have the potential to evolve traditional liquidity management to include liquidity pooling and peer-to-peer capital raising.

These aren’t the only CBDC-related sessions, there are many more including an introductory demo of the R3 Sandbox for Digital Currencies. Just search for ‘CBDC’ in the library to see the full selection.

3. The bridges to interoperability are already being built 

It’s almost impossible to talk about CBDCs without somebody raising the issue of how to juxtapose the need to balance sovereign control of a digital currency with the need for reach – especially in terms of cross-border payments and financial inclusion. Therefore, our next key theme is that of interoperability.

Building the Bridges for Open Finance: Unlocking Digital Asset Interoperability features well-known industry veterans from R3, Accenture and the Monetary Authority of Singapore explaining why interoperability is key to the future development and success of digital currencies. They discuss the advantages and trade-offs of connecting networks and detail how R3, and other organizations, are continuing to collaborate on efforts to move the industry forward.

As an example of how the bridges to interoperability are already being built, the panel regularly refers to Project Dunbar which has been launched by a group of central banks to explore how DLT and multi-CBDCs can be used to make cross-border payments cheaper, faster, and safer.

4. Collaborative innovation will drive us further 

And it’s not only the development of digital currencies where collaboration is key. In Three Principles for Innovating with DLT, Michael C. Bodson from DTCC highlights the benefits of, and the new opportunities, created by DLT within the realms of post-trade processing. By providing insights from the perspective of a critical market infrastructure, Bodson explains why there needs to be a meeting of the minds between the overseers of financial markets and proponents of DeFi or there is a very real risk of stifling innovation within the industry.

The theme of collaborating to build a digital infrastructure to support the inevitable transition to digital markets and tokenization was echoed during one of most very popular ‘live in London’ sessions – Digital Debt Transformation. Featuring industry heavyweights from agora, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, this session reiterated the importance of different institutions working together to unlock the value of blockchain within capital markets. Panelists emphasized how DLT and blockchain not only provide an opportunity to create new markets but also compete in them. However, the fundamental message was that if you don’t create a market that is broad enough and deep enough to get value, and don’t have industry support, then projects will ‘wither on the vine’.

5. The digitization of assets is happening now, and it’s not just crypto!

Before watching any other sessions on digital assets, it might be worth checking out What is a Digital Asset? during which, a panel of industry pioneers discuss definitions, regulations, and timelines for adoption. And you might want to watch it sooner rather than later, because whilst the panel doesn’t see an overnight shift to a digital asset world, they see the impact of digitization having an impact in the next 12-24 months!

The R3-hosted session De-centralized Trading of Digital Assets on Corda continues the digital assets education. Cais Manai explains that this new world may have started with bitcoin enabling the creation and transfer of digital value without intermediaries, but it’s now moved on and there are many more types of digital assets that exist. This session also brings the focus back to the benefits of Corda and how its powerful, flexible programming model can be utilized across the entire trade lifecycle to enable issuance, secondary trading, asset management, asset servicing, and post trade processing of digital assets.

That brings us to the end – we really hope we’ve managed to find some sessions of interest for you. There are so many other sessions to check out, covering hot topics such as trust technology, cross-border payments, and the metaverse so please do explore the site.