Billionaire and Business Magnet, Richard Branson, who founded more than 400 companies under Virgin Group, believes that Blockchain and digital currencies can create a borderless world in the future, but considering the current geopolitical conditions around the globe, the process is far more complex than he thinks.
Fourth Annual Blockchain Summit
Branson recently held the 4th annual Blockchain Summit at his Morocco-based Kasbah Tamadot resort, attended by a number of prominent government bureaucrats, powerful financial regulators and successful cryptocurrency business owners. But as the political guests mingled together on a clear summer afternoon in July, the conversation suddenly took a turn towards the geopolitical storm looming in European skies.
Just a few hours before the summit, two political members who had played a key role in separating Great Britain from European Union resigned from their very important job of ensuring a smooth and secure brexit. Now, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is left with the task of overseeing the controversial separation alone – and if things awry, she could quickly go out of power, taking the country’s economy down with her.
Business owners gathered at Branson’s resort to discuss the outcome of Britain’s exit from the E.U. and how the process could impact businesses and the economies of the nations involved. While talking to Guy Verhofstadt, the former Prime Minister of Belgium and member of the European Parliament responsible for overseeing the separation, Branson discussed the importance of Blockchain in securing a borderless world in the future.
Impact of Brexit on Businesses
The billionaire said that the purpose of creating European Union was to have a secure, borderless community that allowed free flow of goods and people from one country to another. Now with Britain demanding to go back to pre-E.U. era, the region’s financial and trade ecosystem could be seriously disrupted.
Brexit became the main topic of discussion at the summit largely due to the news of two important resignations from the British government: Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary popularly known as the ‘Brexit minister’, and David Davis who played a key role in separating Britain from the E.U. Meanwhile, the United States is also working towards closing its southern border to prevent the flow of migrants. It seems like Branson’s efforts to create a borderless world will be met with serious challenges down the road.
Branson was one of the first billionaires to invest in cryptocurrency back in 2014 when he put $30 million in a startup called BitPay, which started off by facilitating digital transactions across borders and is now processing over $3 billion in transactions every month. In 2017, Branson invested $40 million in another company called Blockchain Inc. which was able to process transaction in Europe through a partnership with Denmark-based Coinify.
Now with U.K. exiting the E.U., Blockchain Inc. has to move its offices to Luxembourg to continue doing business in the region – and it is not the only company that is being affected by Brexit. Elizabeth Rossiello, who attended the summit, said that it highly uneconomical for businesses to duplicate their corporate governance structures and have two different bases in the U.K. and E.U.
Blockchain Could be the Answer
Despite Boris Johnson’s constant rhetoric about Brexit creating more jobs in the U.K., the breakup has had the opposite effect on the country’s economy. Data shows that U.K.’s GDP is lower today than it was before the Brexit referendum. Cryptocurrency business owners believe that creating a unified global economy is at the core of Blockchain’s mission – and the only way to break down borders.
Valery Vavilov, the founder of Amsterdam-based Bitfury, says that what’s unique about cryptocurrency businesses is that they will not compete against each other like traditional financial institutions. Instead, they will use the Blockchain technology to collaborate with one another, launch economies and work together to grow them.
Branson’s efforts to create a borderless world are not limited to investing in Blockchain. He recently met with former U.S. president Barack Obama to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. On the special occasion, the billionaire used the hashtag #WalkTogether in one of his tweets where he drew attention towards connecting global communities through civil society networks.