Consensus 2021 — Day Three

Three takeaways from Coindesk’s BIG crypto conference

Chuck Mackie
2 min readMay 27, 2021

The third of four days at Consensus got around to looking at the “big boy” topics of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and payments but a good deal of cypherpunk edge and angst was still on display, at least in the Chat function anyway. Here are my three takeaways from the sessions:

  1. The CBDC track left me with a treasure trove of trivial nuggets: the knowledge of Henri Arslanian of PwC is directly proportional to his considerable enthusiasm; Project Helvetia, as presented by Tim Grant from Six Digital Exchange, is a good example of where the outer reaches of CBDC are at present; many CBDC projects use R3, Nasdaq exchange and compliance technology or both; and Ian Putter of South Africa’s Standard Bank had the best advice of all: be a novice every single day.
  2. In the matter of payments, the divide between the suits on the panels and the cypherpunks in the chat stream couldn’t have been more stark. For example, I was late to the one-on-one interview with Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, so I asked the Chat denizens what I had missed. My favorite (name withheld to protect the hilarious): “Ripple summary: ‘We dint do nuthin.’ SEC: ‘Yes you did’”.
  3. Besides that, heavyweights like JP Morgan, Visa, Mastercard, FIS Global and PayPal weighed in during the payments track. I never thought that PayPal could be so boring but they were this day. Oh, and you can pretty much write off the threat of Facebook Libra, which is now called Diem and is watered down to the point of irrelevance. I guess we don’t have to be as afraid of Facebook as we were two years ago. Or do we?!

One more day to go for Consensus. Please join me tomorrow for a final look and some final thoughts. See you then.

Chuck Mackie is a principal at Fathom Communication. Fathom provides thought leadership strategy and content that delivers both depth and understanding for financial services and technology innovators.



Chuck Mackie

Chuck is a student of markets and writes on topics ranging from emerging technology to current events in financial services and beyond.