Blockchain CEO Peter Smith has given a firsthand review of his experience joining UK Prime Minister David Cameron in the recent trade mission to Asia.
This year, Cameron took a new approach for the trip. Only one CEO of an FTSE-100 company was invited (Mark Wilson of Aviva). Part of his commitment to ensure that the UK remains a leading FinTech hub, he invited the Blockchain CEO, in addition to more predictable choices like Rolls Royce. Airbus, Arup, and Lloyds of London.
“It started with an unusual email from a government official asking for a call. Strange emails are more or less par for the course for the CEO of a bitcoin company, but a few minutes into the call, I realized something groundbreaking was happening. For the first time, a bitcoin company was being invited on an official tour with the leader of a nation. Not just any leader, mind you, but the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, home to London – the seat of global financial power.”
Blockchain, formerly known as Blockchain.info, was one of the first popular hosted bitcoin wallet services. The last several months, at least from an outsider’s view, have been quiet for the startup, which secured $30.5 million in funding last October. It has also experienced a number of technical issues in recent times, leading to some criticism from the Bitcoin community.
So the invite was a huge boost, at lease from a PR perspective. During July 26-30, the delegation visited Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. Smith said he spoke to senior regulators, bank CEOs, telecommunications executives and other leaders about working towards “an open financial platform in which anyone can participate.”
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Smith notes how the region’s economy is expected to swell in the coming years, but yet has a severely underdeveloped financial system. So too, most people in the region have very little clue about Bitcoin, save for regulators and bankers in Singapore.
Perhaps most importantly, he admired the UK’s approach to cultivating the FinTech sectors, including that of digital currency. He writes:
“It was an honor to speak with the Prime Minister about bitcoin and Blockchain’s leadership role – doubly so because it happened at such a critical moment in our industry. The convergence of fintech, bitcoin, and global opportunity were affirmed when Mr. Cameron even made reference to his understanding of the technology in official remarks.”
Smith sums up the trip as follows:
4 – Days
5 – Cities Visited
41 – Hours Flown
6 – Mentions of bitcoin by a PM
After all, who wants to sleep when you can talk bitcoin!?”