As part of the Harvard Business Review Summit Mexico, attendees were invited to participate in hands on workshops focused on design thinking, lean startup methodology, and blockchain. The workshop focused on blockchain, the distributed ledger technology most often associated with bitcoin, was hosted by Carlos Vivas, Strategy Designer at Opinno, and a blockchain expert, and Rafael Ramírez de Alba López, Director and Professor of the Economic Environment Department at IPADE.
The workshop was structured into two sections. Mr. Vivas provided an overview of the technology of blockchain and its various applications, while Professor Ramírez de Alba provided a more in-depth look at the application of blockchain, and more specifically, BitCoin, within the Mexican context.
As Mr. Vivas explained to the eager audience, blockchain is “… a decentralized database that uses mechanisms of consensus to ensure trust, integrity, and security. It’s a digital register of ownership that doesn’t require an administrator or central authority, nor a central data registration. All nodes within the network have the ability to perform all of the applications of the network.”
Mr. Vivas then ran through some of the possible applications of blockchain. Although many audience members were familiar with blockchain’s application within the context of digital currencies, most specifically bitcoin, very few were aware of the wider range of possible applications, including within the areas of smart contracts, securities, and record keeping.
Professor Ramírez de Alba followed up with an overview of the Mexican context, focused more on bitcoin, noting that Argentina is very advanced in blockchain and bitcoin usage because of the high level of entrepreneurship within the country, as well as because of the promise of bitcoin as a currency that can be managed outside of central sources. The series of major devaluations and crises that Argentina has experienced make it fertile ground for experimentation with bitcoin.
In Mexico, however, bitcoin is still generally associated with illegal activities, considered outside of the purview of the government and similar to all cash transactions. The federal government has taken a stance in favor of financial innovation, but has not yet recognized bitcoin as legal tender, and early adopters and fintech companies continue to lack clarity in terms of regulation and fiscal impact.
Mr. Vivas then ran through a demo utilizing two different bitcoin wallet sites- Coinbase and Blockchain.info, using both sites to walk the audience through the process of third-party bitcoin transactions.
Mr. Vivas and Professor Ramírez de Alba then opened up for additional questions from the audience, which ranged from the technical to the theoretical.
The Harvard Business Review Summit Mexico is the most important meeting of leaders, organizations, and ideas regarding the future of management, hosted by the Harvard Business Review, the most important strategy and leadership publication in the world, and Opinno, the Spanish-language publisher of HBR. Held at the IPADE campus in Mexico City, the homebase for the most important international business organizations focused on the Latin American market, the HBR Summit served as an opportunity to engage in a truly important dialogue regarding the ideas and practices that are changing the business world in Mexico, Latin America, and beyond. For more coverage of the 2016 event, click here.