Istanbul Blockchain Week: A Confluence of Tech, Innovation, and Inclusive Finance
As we head into the fall conference season, I wanted to talk about how Istanbul recently showcased itself as a hub of innovation, tech awareness, and inclusive finance. With the successful conclusion of Istanbul Blockchain Week, which occurred during the final weeks of summer, the event featured thought leaders, industry pioneers, and a gathering of professionals eager to explore the convergence of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and Web3 gaming. And it put Istanbul squarely on the map as a regional force in the industry.
While I could not attend this world-class event, I kept up with what was happening through contacts on the ground. And from my vantage point, this event brought the summer heat and set the stage for an exciting Q4.
Istanbul: A Global Tech Hub Offering Global Insight
Located strategically between London and Dubai, Istanbul is set on becoming a global epicenter for emerging technologies. I witnessed first-hand during BlockDown Portugal the innovation led by Turkish companies and investors.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this particular event, however, is the fact that due to where it is geographically located, there was a keen focus on Islamic finance and the notion of a Shariah-compliant Web3 economy, owing to the growing interest from the United Arab Emirates in Turkey’s crypto market.
AI – Front and Center, a 2023 Theme
The major themes for the conference included AI, regulation, Web3 gaming, and practical blockchain applications. Attendees enjoyed a variety of workshops and roundtable discussions covering subjects such as ethical finance, AI, Web3 gaming, DAOs, and decentralized identity. The event also hosted a $50,000 bounty hackathon, urging developers to create DeFi platforms geared towards ethical financial services.
As AI continued to be the topic du jour, another eye-catching moment was the introduction of Desi, the AI robot from SingularityNET and Yaya Labs, and sibling to Sophia, who provided attendees with a hands-on AI tech experience.
The intersection of AI and blockchain has been particularly notable throughout the whole of the industry, with discussions emphasizing decentralized generative AI on blockchain platforms and the importance of data ownership. These are themes that are likely to be on repeat at other industry-leading conferences, such as Permissionless and Token2049.
Engaging the Turkish Banking Sector
Another highlight of the event and something that I wanted to learn about in-person was the Turkish banking sector’s active engagement, as manifested by the participation of major Turkish banks in a panel focused on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). CBDC’s have been in the news quite a bit over the last few years.
Ziya Altunyaldiz, Member of the Republic of Turkey Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Industry, Trade, Energy, Natural Resources, Information and Technology Commission, was a notable speaker who offered insights to attendees. Additional featured international Web3 speakers and sponsors included PSG, Fireblocks, Crypto. com, ICP and Socios. It was a conglomeration of talent and knowledge.
Erhan Korhaliller, the founder of EAK Digital and the organizer of Istanbul Blockchain Week & BlockDown Conference (Portugal 2023), shared his enthusiasm about the event, “One of the core tenets of Istanbul Blockchain Week has always been inclusivity and education. This year, I was very excited to see industry veterans and newcomers alike come together, sharing knowledge, experiences, and visions for a decentralized world. As I watched young developers interact with Web3 leaders and saw the spark of inspiration in their eyes, I was reminded of why we began this journey. Istanbul Blockchain Week isn’t just an event; it’s a catalyst, a meeting point of minds, and a beacon for what’s possible when we come together in the spirit of innovation and progress.”
Istanbul Blockchain Week, which I will absolutely not miss in 2024, has set a precedent for future events, positioning Istanbul as not just a city of historical importance but as a beacon of technological innovation and inclusive finance.
As we look towards the future, at least the immediate future, it’s clear that this event has ignited a spark that will continue to illuminate the path ahead for a region that is cementing its rightful place in Web3.