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S.C. Blockchain Conference plans to go ahead this weekend

Technology
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A statewide conference about blockchain and how it could impact industry and the economy is set for this weekend at Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant.

The S.C. Blockchain Conference will feature speakers from various industries, such as technology, government and logistics, discussing how companies can prepare for the widespread utilization of blockchain.

Blockchain is a ledger on which transactions can be digitally recorded, with each block connected to those before and behind it, making it difficult to tamper with. Blockchains are kept in peer-to-peer networks that are continually updated and synced.

The most well-known utilization of the blockchain is Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency. However, Dennis Fassuliotis, executive director and co-founder of the blockchain trade association PalmettoChain Inc., said he sees potential for blockchain in every industry, such as tracking shipments of goods, document management and digitizing physical assets.

“The deeper you get into it, you realize how much this is going to transform our lives,” Fassuliotis said. “And it’s coming. We’re just starting to see the first applications right now.”

Fassuliotis said he had thought about canceling the S.C. Blockchain Conference because of concerns about COVID-19, but he felt that the conference was “just too important for South Carolina.”

“It would literally put us six months behind on our education process, and I feel like if we can minimize all the risk levels as much as we can, we still have a lot of interest,” he said.

Fassuliotis adding that South Carolina is already falling behind states such as Wyoming and Colorado that have passed bills regulating the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

The conference has been pared down, though, from two simultaneous tracks to a single track for attendees. Additionally, Fassuliotis said some speakers will be appearing via video instead of in person.

“This really is a work in progress,” he said. “And the schedule ... may still have some changes associated with it.”

Fassuliotis plans to use the abandoned second track of the conference for another event in October that he hopes will be a launching pad for legislation in the General Assembly.

The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Banking and Insurance Committee have been reviewing legislation since early last year that would regulate blockchain technology, but Fassuliotis said he doubts it will move forward this session, with the Legislature focused on the future of Santee Cooper and the state budget.

Fassuliotis said he initially expected 200 people to attend the S.C. Blockchain Conference, but with the new coronavirus on everyone’s minds, he’ll consider it a success with between 60 and 100 attendees.

“Barring an epidemic influx of contagion in this area, we’re having a conference Saturday,” Fassuliotis said.

Reach Patrick Hoff at 843-849-3144.

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