DECENTRALIZED 2019: “We all hold a stake in the Blockchain”

The ‘Father’ of Blockchain, W. Scott Stornetta, was speaking at this year’s DECENTRALIZED, alongside 100+ Top Tier names from 38 countries, as we collectively go from theory to practice in Blockchain adoption 

For a third year running, and second consecutive in Athens, proceedings for DECENTRALIZED were launched by the CEO of the University of Nicosia (UNIC), Antonis Polemitis, who welcomed what he described as the “deepest, best group of speakers and participants” assembled thus far, to what has fast become the premier blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Europe. Mr. Polemitis thanked the returning and newly initiated members of the DECENTRALIZED family (speakers, sponsors, participants, colleagues, students, and media), who are actively contributing in this way to creating the next generation of blockchain enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and users.

Indeed, this year saw an impressive line-up that featured several of the original architects of the blockchain, including one of the oft-cited ‘fathers’ of the technology, Dr. W. Scott Stornetta, as well as Dr. Adam Back (inventor of hashcash and Co-founder/CEO of Blockstream), and David Chaum (pioneer in Cryptography and CEO of Elixxir & Praxxis). The political and regulatory scene (national governments, state entities, and supra-national bodies) was also well-represented by: Silvio Schembri (Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation within the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta), Demetra Kalogerou (Chairwoman, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission); and Vasiliki Lazarakou (Chair, Hellenic Capital Markets Commission). Ultimately, over 100 top-tier speakers from 38 countries came together over three days under the banner of delineating the next steps in our collective Decentralized future.

DECENTRALIZED 2019 featured several innovations to previous conferences, including its format across three distinct tracks: Business, Technology, and Academia. Participants and presenters alike found this especially useful, engaging in a dynamic exchange of knowledge and ideas around trends and developments in the field, while analysing the latest implications of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies.

Another of this year’s innovations focused on delivering a hands-on, educational experience for participants. According to Professor George Giaglis, General Director of the Institute For the Future (IFF) at UNIC, tasked with organising the global conference series: “DECENTRALIZED goes beyond other blockchain conferences, to include a significant learning component to the mix. This year, that component was expertly furthered through two full-day pre-conference educational events [the Corda Bootcamp and the Hyperledger Workshop], in collaboration with our valued partners, R3 and Hyperledger”.

Dr. Stornetta, Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners, while dismissing he was Satoshi Nakamoto (in Japanese, no less), encouraged all assembled to rethink the latter’s “Holy Grail” bitcoin design paper and to, instead, focus on “delivering compelling applications that tackle real problems”. In his Keynote Address, he underscored that: “We all hold a stake in the blockchain, it is only collectively that we can create immutable records; that we can ensure equality and deliver peer-to-peer [that works]”. Likening blockchain to the advent of the printing press, he likewise encouraged everyone to tap into its enormous power to do good.

UNIC CEO, Antonis Polemitis, spoke along similar lines, urging all related stakeholders (including governments and big corporations) to take risks and push harder, to arrive at a point in which our policy responses and technical infrastructure will allow us to deliver solutions to contemporary problems organically. Mr. Polemitis referenced the rapidly changing political-legal framework and outlined the need to further fight centralisation. UNIC was not exempted from the challenge, as it looks to go beyond the standard usage cases it pioneered (namely, payments and attestations) – to delivering a third usage case for DECENTRALIZED 2020. “We look forward to continue working with all of you in any way, shape or form, to move societies forward, to move humanity forward”, he concluded.

During his closing remarks, Professor Giaglis especially thanked the 50+ sponsors, supporters, exhibitors and media partners for adding to the “wave of creative disruption underway”, through both their own work in the field and by supporting the global conference series. He also announced that DECENTRALIZED would be heading back to home-base for its 2020 edition and will be taking place in Limassol, Cyprus, on 12-13 November. Moreover, he shared next year’s conference theme, which is none other than “DEPLOYMENT”. This was well received and could not be more relevant in going forward, as a natural continuation of the three “Decentralized” days in Athens, as we collectively go from theory to practice in blockchain adoption and usage.


DECENTRALIZED 2019 was powered by the Institute for the Future at the University of Nicosia, the leading global provider of education and research in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and BitShares – the world’s fastest industrial-grade blockchain platform and eco-system. Among this year’s expanded cohort of local and international sponsors, DECENTRALIZED 2019 proudly featured the Government of Canada (a global first) and big name partners such as: Accenture, PwC UK, Microsoft, Eurobank Greece, Stelios Americanos & Co. LLC, PumaPay, Obyte, ODEM, VeChain, JUR, WhizGrid, ZEME, Elixxir, Globaltraining,, IOHK, Aerapasss, TheFutbolApp, Sofie Project (Guardtime), and BitShares, many of which had high-profile presenters, as well as representatives on-site, showcasing their latest blockchain and cryptocurrency activity and offerings.