Santander bid to make history today as the first multinational bank to use ethereum’s public blockchain to transform central bank issued money into digital currency.
One of the biggest bank in the world, Santander, aims to allow its customers to turn bank account funds into ethereum based tokens, starting a new stage in digital currencies and beginning a move towards mainstream use. They have been working with Roman Mandeleil, founder of ether.camp, for the past nine months, with the project now in testing on Ethereum’s Morden.
The crowd erupted in enthusiastic applause upon hearing the announcement, with one attendant stating participants were cheering. Unfortunately, there won’t be any proper videos until next week as they have been contracted out to professional teams with three cameras covering all angles. Some amateur videos of devcon2 are starting to surface, but not yet of Santander’s announcement.
That was just one presentation at Devcon’s second day. There were many more. First mention goes to Péter Szilágyi, one of Ethereum’s core developers with a Ph.D. in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications. According to commentary, he received “continuous voice praise and applause” for his presentation on “Import Geth – Ethereum from Go and Beyond”
Much of today focused on securing smart contracts and on ethereum development tools such as Embark and Truffle with some infrastructure presentations, such as Infura. The latter has a partnership with Microsoft Azure and aims to create scalable blockchain backends. They’re a Consensys spoke and are often use by many ethereum projects.
One such project is Metamask, an ethereum based browser plugging which allows websites to be blockchain aware. Aaron Davis, who gave the presentation, stated the focus was on giving an overview of Metamask which already has around 2,000 users, and “previews of upcoming things like multiple account types,” with users free to choose whether they want to use an identity based account or remain pseudo-anonymous.
Davis further brought to attention the matter of standards, a hot and important topic in the blockchain space. Projects need to communicate and interface with each other, so they need some basic rules, otherwise there are compatibility issues. A web3 standards body is therefore suggested.
Finally, when metamask received some media attention, many new users installed the plugging leading to some temporary small problems. Davis states:
“[U]ntil we go light client, scaling will be a concern. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit for the hosted node version though. I think we can optimize 100x easily”
Nick Johnson, a former senior engineer at Google now working as a core ethereum developer, presented an ethereum based domain name service ending in .eth. At its core, this turns machine readable code to human readable words, so it can arguably be used for more memorable eth address names, but the domain serving aspect seems to already be live with Johnson publicly stating the system currently had three characters limit as:
“[W]e just want to avoid all the really valuable short names being immediately squatted on by early adopters speculating on them”
Besides domains, attendants also participated in Piper Merriam’s blockchain based identity project, one of many tackling the very difficult question of transporting real life identity or property registration to the blockchain. As of now, few, if any, have been able to deploy a usable implementation, but the successful project is likely to benefit from the huge property registration and identification market, with the benefits for end users numerous, including minimizing fully identity theft and fraud.
With the eventful day over, everyone took to the roof and many other bars, enjoying the beautiful Shanghai view and the, perhaps drunken, company of some of the smartest people in this space.
Tomorrow is the DApps day, with Gnosis, Uport, Digix, Colony, Oraclize, Thomson Reuters, and others, showcasing their work as Devcon enters its final and perhaps biggest day yet, to then be followed by Demo Day where many Ethereum based projects are to compete, and the blockchain summit which is to be opened by Vitalik Buterin.
Featured image courtesy of Alexander Rugaev.