11 questions about Blockchain and cryptocurrency

Blockchain and cryptocurrency were the technologies in focus at the latest ICT Open Forum hosted by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago at their headquarters in Barataria on March 22, 2018. I was pleased to moderate the panel discussion, during which I joined the audience in asking a range of questions, from generic to contextual.

  1. What is Blockchain and how does it work?
  2. What are some real-world and potential applications of Blockchain outside of cryptocurrency?
  3. How should we assess the performance of Caribbean regulators so far in responding to the emergence of cryptocurrency?
  4. How should regional regulatory bodies enact policies to protect consumers without stifling innovation among entrepreneurs?
  5. What are some practical steps needed to improve the regulatory environment, strengthen our policy framework, and accelerate our legislative agendas, in response to cryptocurrencies?
  6. To what extent are the vulnerabilities exposed by cryptocurrencies different from existing vulnerabilities in the traditional commercial banking sector?
  7. By some estimates, the global cyber crime industry surpasses even the drug trade. How are Caribbean financial institutions been responding to cyber attacks and breaches in the traditional Finance sector?
  8. Traditionally, the banking sector has placed much of the burden of cybersecurity on the shoulders of the individual customers, and anecdotally the cost of cyber defense has been passed on to customers in the guise of higher fees. How do we migrate to a system in which more of that burden is placed squarely on the shoulders of the financial institutions themselves rather than their customers?
  9. How are cyptocurrencies being used to bank the bankless and unbankable?
  10. What are some opportunities presented by cryptocurrencies to Caribbean entrepreneurs?
  11. How should regulators and local authorities across the Caribbean move to establish a more collaborative approach to the regulation of decentralised currencies and trans-border flows?

Panelists were Aaron Besson, Chief Creative Officer of BlockServ Ltd; Vashti Maharaj, Head, Legal Services, PS Secretariat at the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago; and Hadyn Gittens, CEO, Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission. I've represented only my own questions above, not those fielded from the highly engaged audience, nor the considered responses of the expert panel.