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Web2 giants coming into Web3 could benefit ecosystem — PBW founder

Paris Blockchain Week founder Michael Amar believes large Web2 companies entering the Web3 space bring resources capable of increasing mass adoption.

Paris Blockchain Week (PBW), an annual gathering of professionals within the blockchain industry, has kicked off its fourth edition, with industry leaders and entrepreneurs from across the world gathering to discuss the latest trends and developments impacting the digital asset space.

In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Michael Amar, the founder and chairman of Paris Blockchain Week, shared that the original vision for the conference was to put Europe on the map, as it was previously “nowhere on the map for blockchain.”

Cointelegraph's Joe Hall with Michael Amar.

Founded in 2019, PBW was created with the vision of bringing together professionals within the industry to advance blockchain awareness and adoption. According to Amar, the aim of the conference was to progress the industry as a whole, addressing topics like regulation and deep technology.

Fast forward to 2023, the topics have expanded to include Web3, nonfungible tokens, the metaverse, and decentralized autonomous organizations. Amar said that the growth of Web3 is beneficial for the blockchain industry, as it can promote wider adoption of digital assets, potentially opening the door to other industries. He told Cointelegraph: 

“Now that we’re opening up to brands, we’re talking IP, we’re talking innovation, we’re talking marketing. It opens up to luxury brands, to fashion brands, to art, to real estate, to so many industries. So, I think this Web3 movement is very good because it creates mass adoption for crypto and blockchain at the end of the day.”

Speaking on how the participation of tech giants impacts the ecosystem, Amar shared: 

“The Web2 players and tech giants are coming, so we’re very happy to have Google or Amazon or SAP part of the event. And actually, they’re bringing their resources and their projects to the space to make Web3 happen for the masses.” 

Amar addressed concerns about whether the entrance of Web2 companies, as well as retail and consumer brands, undermines Web3’s mission of decentralization. He believes that while the centralized power of these companies is a concern, their resources, tools, platforms and investments can be used to drive change and bring about more governance within Web3 systems. Although these companies may never be fully decentralized, Amar suggested that having something meaningful to decentralize is a step in the right direction.

Related: Paris Blockchain Week 2023: Latest updates by Cointelegraph

Paris Blockchain Week hosts over 10,000 attendees and sold out last year. Alongside the main event, it has a dedicated day for investors, a competition for startups, a hackathon and additional side events. The 2022 summit drew approximately 3,000 attendees and included talks with top personalities in the field, including Binance’s Changpeng Zhao and Tether’s Paolo Ardoino.

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BlockFi in no immediate danger, despite Silicon Valley Bank exposure: Report

Christine Okike, a lawyer representing BlockFi at its bankruptcy hearing claimed that BlockFi is not in immediate danger and has sufficient funds to continue operating normally.

According to a lawyer representing the bankrupt crypto lender BlockFi Inc.,the company is in a stable financial position with access to ample cash reserves, despite having over $200 million in exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, Bloomberg reported.

During a bankruptcy hearing on Monday, Christine Okike of Kirkland & Ellis claimed that BlockFi is not in immediate danger and has sufficient funds to continue operating normally, including paying employees and vendors.

Okike reportedly shared;

BlockFi is fine … We have access to cash to operate in the normal course, including paying employees and vendors.

Okike also noted that BlockFi expects to gain access to a significant portion of cash held with Silicon Valley Bank later in the day. The majority of BlockFi's exposure to Silicon Vally Bank is through third-party money-market mutual funds, which Okike claimed had no direct impact on the company's operations. The bankruptcy case in question is identified as BlockFi Inc., 22-19361, and is being heard in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey in Trenton. 

Related: Silicon Valley Bank collapse: Everything that’s happened until now

On March 10, California's financial regulator shut down Silicon Valley Bank, a major financial institution catering to venture-backed companies. The shutdown makes it the first Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured bank to fail in 2023. 

On March 11, a bankruptcy filing revealed that defunct crypto lender BlockFi had $227 million worth of uninsured funds allocated to a money market mutual fund (MMMF) offered by the troubled Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

As previously reported by Cointelegragh, Global banking giant HSBC has announced the acquisition of Silicon Valley Bank UK (SVB UK), a subsidiary of the now-collapsed Silicon Valley Bank, for just 1 British pound ($1.21). According to HSBC, as of March 10, 2023, SVB UK had loans worth around 5.5 billion pounds ($6.7 billion) and deposits of around 6.7 billion pounds ($8.1 billion). 

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Crypto and blockchain education becomes priority at top universities

As crypto adoption rises, more universities are offering crypto courses.

In a world where cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology make direct peer-to-peer transactions possible and transcend traditional financial norms, more people want to learn about them to keep up with the times.

Universities worldwide are beginning to offer cryptocurrency-related courses to cater to this new paradigm. Due to rising demand, many of the world’s top universities offer crypto-related courses.

There’s been a lot of hype regarding cryptocurrencies — mainly due to their disruptive potential — and the rise of crypto education has strongly coincided with this. According to a 2022 survey from Study.com, about two-thirds of American parents and college students conversant with cryptocurrencies thought the topic should be taught in schools as mandatory.

A recent poll conducted by Grayscale Investments, in conjunction with The Harris Poll, revealed that approximately 53% of Americans viewed cryptocurrencies as the future of finance.

Such positive perspectives regarding cryptocurrencies have given credence to introducing related courses in institutions of higher learning.

Why more people are seeking crypto education

Crypto’s decentralized nature and ease of acquisition have attracted speculative traders and long-term investors.

However, investing in digital currencies comes with significant risk, and more investors are looking to educate themselves before dabbling in the new asset class.

Some entrepreneurs and business managers looking to learn more about cryptocurrencies to transform their businesses have turned to crypto education, especially the latest crypto-based revenue-generation models.

Companies are also driving demand for crypto education. In recent years, several blue-chip firms, such as IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Amazon and Google, have actively sought hires with a crypto or blockchain orientation to help develop innovative blockchain products. This has increased the demand for related courses. Some companies have gone a step further and partnered with institutions offering courses to further crypto and blockchain research and support related programs.

Mary Lacity, a distinguished professor of information systems at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, told Cointelegraph that corporate companies were among the first drivers of the trend.

“The initial demand to start these programs came from our industry partners, including Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Foods, ArcBest and IBM,” Lacity said.

The professor highlighted that the burgeoning corporate clientele initially prompted the institution to focus on private blockchain courses. Still, the curriculum has since been revamped to cover public blockchains due to changing market dynamics.

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“Our students are interested in the opportunities to create their own decentralized applications,” she said.

Regarding the future of crypto education, Lacity said that demand was strong and was likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

What crypto courses cover

Crypto courses typically contain the essential areas that crypto users and investors seek to understand, like the basics of blockchain technology.

Understanding how blockchain systems function, and their advantages and disadvantages, is integral to understanding cryptocurrencies. Some cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), are inherently deflationary, with mechanisms restricting supply and increasing mining difficulty. This, in turn, creates scarcity, raising BTC’s value and purchasing power over time.

Cryptocurrencies that lack such properties have limited upside price potential due to oversupply. Details like these help learners, especially investors, to make better-informed decisions when exploring crypto.

Crypto education also helps learners understand the risks involved when investing in cryptocurrencies, such as extreme volatility and the factors that trigger it, like regulatory changes and negative market sentiment.

Cryptocurrency courses designed for beginners usually cover the basics, such as obtaining and transacting with cryptocurrencies. The programs typically teach learners about crypto mining, regulation, taxation, safety measures when using custodial and noncustodial wallets, and how to spot scams.

More advanced courses related to crypto risk management typically cover risk management strategies and technical analysis. Such courses help learners understand the crypto market’s deeper mechanics and how to avoid significant losses.

Many major universities have unveiled crypto-related courses at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Some programs have been integrated across departments to allow students majoring in other subjects to join them.

The National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore is among the top public universities in Singapore, ranked No. 11 in the QS World University Rankings 2023. The university has a wide variety of crypto and blockchain-related undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

University Hall at the National University of Singapore. Source: Joshua Rommel Hayag Vargas

Among its most unique program is the blockchain commercial applications course, which examines blockchain features and its commercial use cases. The course is tailored for business professionals who wish to integrate the technology into their businesses to improve transparency and efficiency.

The course covers subjects such as distributed ledgers and smart contracts, blockchain resources and architecture, and the commercial application of blockchain.

The university also has crypto-centric courses covering token design, economics and crypto philosophy.

Cornell University

Cornell University is a private Ivy League university based in Ithaca, New York. The institution has a wide range of courses related to cryptocurrencies for both novice and advanced learners. The introduction to blockchains, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts course is among the most notable targeted at tech students.

Cornell campus, as seen from the McGraw tower. Source: sach1tb

Its syllabus examines the inner workings of cryptocurrencies, such as using digital signatures in transaction authentication. The course also has modules that cover cryptographic concepts, such as zero-knowledge proofs and smart contracts.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is a government-funded university in Hung Hom, Hong Kong. The institution offers a wide range of tertiary courses as well as crypto and blockchain-related programs.

Among the most advanced courses it offers is the Master of Science in Blockchain Technology. The course is set up for students already well-versed in crypto and blockchain technology, and teaches learners how to analyze, create and implement blockchain technologies in a way that supports fintech services.

The University of Nicosia

The University of Nicosia in Nicosia, Cyprus, offers unique cryptocurrency courses. Among the most noteworthy programs for advanced students is the Master of Science in Blockchain and Digital Currency. The program aims to help students become digital currency and blockchain professionals.

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The course curriculum covers various subjects, including blockchain systems and architectures, digital currency programming, cryptographic systems security, law and regulation in blockchain, and token economics.

EU Business School

The EU Business School is a private business school established in 1973, with numerous campuses worldwide. Its Geneva, Munich, Montreux and Barcelona campuses, among others, offer crypto-related courses. One of the most distinctive courses offered by the institution is the MBA in Blockchain Management.

EU Business School in Barcelona. Source: Domadictel

This course covers the different use cases of blockchain technology and how it can help solve many of the problems in society today, such as transparency and fair trade. It also allows students to evaluate some of the technology’s more technical and fundamental aspects.

The future of crypto education

People looking to get involved in the crypto industry are increasingly seeking crypto education, which will likely increase the spectrum of courses and the number of institutions offering them.

Some crypto companies are also beginning to partner with learning institutions offering crypto courses to enhance research and work with qualified learners. The trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future due to synergistic benefits.

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