Editor's Choice Event Analysis World-Region-Country

Blockdown2020: Bringing the Conference Community Online

The use of technology to collaborate and communicate has never been more lauded than it is now during lockdown. Blockdown – a combination of blockchain and lockdown, is an online 2-day event that was held this week aimed at the crypto community. It was created by the organisers of Istanbul Blockchain Week to bring educational and networking activities online.

Featuring names from the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, the event also promised a 3D aspect where avatars could virtually meet and watch the mainstage together, visit exhibitor booths or take in a panel session. “Think of it as a crypto version of ‘The Sims’” said Erhan Korhaliller, the event organiser and founder of crypto PR agency EAK Digital.

Korhaliller reports that the event, which took place across Thursday 16th April and Friday 17th April 2020, saw over 1000 attendees and over 30,000 minutes of video watched on the first day alone.

Erhan Korhaliller

Korhaliller said, “It never occurred to me that I’d be kicking off a conference from my childhood bedroom. But, here we are today, and we need to make the best of a bad situation. And that’s what Blockdown is, at the heart of it is that we need to use these times to innovate. And hopefully, it will be a really positive thing for our industry.”


Virtual leaders

While the schedule was packed with fireside chats and industry crisis talks on COVID-19, there was also some real insight from CEO’s Da Hongfei of NEO and Changpeng Zhao (CZ) CEO of Binance, who some might call the ‘virtual leaders’ of the conference.

Hongfei was quick to point out the role that blockchain could play post-pandemic, and how distributed leger technology would be ideal to adopt in an uncertain economic world. With de-globalisation and competitive inflation on the cards, he suggested that due to its neutrality, blockchain could be the link in bridging the gap. Still, he acknowledged that there was a long way to go – although NEO was working towards it. The team are currently working on increasing tokenization and take-up for the smart economy.

Da-HongFei @ Blockdown 2020

Despite recent volatility in the Bitcoin market, CZ revealed that Binance trade volumes and activity are up almost five-fold. While most people expected Bitcoin to leap following lockdown, Binance believes this activity is sowing the seeds for a recovery post-pandemic. While the trickles of new money might not begin to flow until many months later, CZ is optimistic. He added that Binance continue to work on their debit card prospects and mentioned that a further announcement on Binance Chain will be made shortly.

Africa a hot topic

Korhaliller mentioned in his opening remarks that he wanted this remote conference to heal global divisions, and there was certainly a large global presence. While Turkey was given a spotlight due to the postponed Istanbul Blockchain Weekend, it was music mogul Akon’s appearance that brought Africa into the spotlight.

The Grammy-Nominated artist of both American and Senegalese descent is a well-known crypto entrepreneur who is currently working on the futuristic ‘Akon Crypto City’ based in Senegal. He announced via Blockdown that his coin, Stellar (XLM)-based Akoin, will also power another city, this time in Kenya. The Mwale medical and technology city (MMTC), currently houses around 35,000 and features leisure resorts and retail outlets.

It is expected that Akoin will take on its 50 million transactions each year as part of the musician’s desire to “give back”. During his announcement he said, “I wanted to create something special for African citizens, especially financially, and give them a currency that they can trust and also utilize day to day.”


While the two-day event is unique in its offering at the moment, it doesn’t mean that the need for a virtual conference will end when lockdown does. Indeed, through its bleeding edge software package and likeness to popular gaming software, regular blockdown-type events could become more frequent.

While EAK Digital was able to pull off a pretty impressive speaker list this time, Founder Erhan Korhaliller still has a wish list of experts for the next one, including both Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk.

As for those who didn’t get chance to take part in Blockdown2020, there are some interesting graphics that are still available to give you an idea of the key talks. These graphic recordings were sketched in real time by graphic designers listening in and offer you a real flavour of what was on offer at the event.

And as for Blockdown2021, it might be closer than you think.


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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