Another year, another gathering of global elites in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF). Many members of the general public are once again rolling their eyes as billionaires, business leaders and global leaders pontificate on topics ranging from the global economy to technology to the climate, and profess how they have all the answers to solve all of our problems, all while demonstrating just how out-of-touch they are with the everyday person.

Significant action must be taken at significant short-term cost in order to slow the rate of climate change, according to the consensus narrative of speakers at the WEF event, many of whom arrived in Davos on private jets, are staying in luxury condos and consuming a plethora of luxury, carbon intensive goods and services during their stay.

Anyway, whatever your view of the global gathering at Davos, at least digital asset firms continue to make their mark. For all of the WEF’s drawbacks, if crypto firms can use the platform to advance the goal of decentralization, that can only be a good thing.

Crypto Firms Take a Less Prominent Role at This Year’s WEF

That said, the toll of the 2022 crypto bear market is obvious. While still an important presence at the event, far fewer crypto companies are present at the event this year, a visibly noticeable sign that the industry has been hurting.

“It’s very clear that the speculation period is drawing to a close and every company that you see featured (at the WEF) … is really focused on real-world use cases,” commented Circle’s vice-president of policy and regulatory strategy Teana Baker-Taylor. Circle is the crypto firm that created and overseas the Ethereum-based USDC stablecoin and was present at last year’s WEF. USDC is backed 1:1 with real US dollar that circle stores within the traditional banking industry.

Casper Labs, the creator of the business-focused Casper Network blockchain, which is powered by the CSPR cryptocurrency, is another returnee to this year’s WEF. According to the company’s chief of strategic relations Cliff Sarkin, the crypto firms that have returned to Davos are “substantiative projects” and “the real deal”, rather than more speculative projects like NFTs.

Sarkin added that “we’re over a year into the bear market, so I think the shock of that is settled in and for those of us that have been in the space for years … we feel like this is the time to build”, before adding that he is “cautiously optimistic” that cryptocurrency markets have now bottomed.

Lots of Focus on Blockchain Applications, Not Just Crypto

This year’s Davos has also seen a shift in focus more towards potential future blockchain use cases beyond that of cryptocurrency, decentralized finance and other crypto-based speculative financial products (like non-fungible tokens).

Carmen Hutt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees treasurer, outlined a recently launched blockchain payment product that has been designed to distribute humanitarian aid in Ukraine. A pilot version of the project was launched on the Stellar blockchain back in December. According to Hutt, moving donations onto the blockchain can improve “transparency and visibility”. The platform is ready to go live and deliver aid, Hutt said.

Elsewhere, the Solana Foundation, Ripple, the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and others teamed up to create a new initiative called the Blockchain x Climate Leadership Network (BxC) with the aim of accelerating blockchain-based solutions for climate change. Blockchain technology holds the promise of expanding and democratising access to global carbon credit markets, amongst other things, lead by young, up-and-coming projects like IMPT.io and C+Charge.

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