Highlights from ETHKL 2023 🇲🇾

Greetings from the heart of Kuala Lumpur, where the crypto community converged with Ethereum enthusiasts to envision a united blockchain future at the Ethereum Kuala Lumpur (ETHKL) 2023 conference. In case you missed the in-person conference, we’ve put together some highlights for you to get up to speed!

Day 1

Harith Kamarul from ETHKL kicked off the first-ever community-run conference in Malaysia after six months of planning. The conference and hackathon are expected to host 45 speakers and 16 sponsors over a period of two days. Ethereum is special and has carried over the torch from the early blockchain days” says Harith.

Harith was joined by Matthew Tan, CEO of Etherscan, who shared further about Malaysia’s promising future as a budding crypto ecosystem. “We want to show that as Malaysians, we can build global products whilst still maintaining a unique Malaysian identity of warmth and diversity.” added Matthew.

Zhong Chan, Head of Research at CoinGecko, took the stage next to give us a sneak peek and share interesting insights from CoinGecko’s Q3 Crypto Industry Report. “After a strong rally in 2023 first half, the Total Market Cap saw a decline of 10% in 2023 Q3 but is still 35%+ year-to-date. It has been a challenging nine months for exchanges due to lower trading volume.” shared Zhong.

Next up was Francesco Andreoli, Developer Relations Manager at Concensys/ MetaMask, who talked about the need for permissionless innovation to extend the functionality of wallets. “We can connect developers with cool tools and help them stay involved in the ecosystem. We are building a universal web3 interface driven by community members” says Francesco.

Andrey Glukhov, Senior Infrastructure Security Engineer, and Dmitry Slinkov, Security Engineering Manager, from MatterLabs (zkSync), outlined the importance of real-time on-chain monitoring tools and their critical role in ensuring project security. “Monitoring is our approach to security. It provides us with a huge insight into activities and threats. To protect against such threats, we have several protection measures: Preventive, Detective, and Corrective. Human errors happen. Bugs happen. They can happen simultaneously. They are inevitable, and we need to understand them to best counter them.” shared Andrey.

Capping off the day was a presentation by Nishant Das, Protocol Developer at Offchain Labs, who shared what to expect in the consensus layer for Ethereum’s next hard fork. “The main burden for L2s is the cost of posting data to Ethereum Mainnet. With EIP 4844, the cost of data becomes ten times cheaper, which translates to a much cheaper transaction fee for users.” highlighted Das.

Day 2

To kick off Day 2 and ZK Day sessions, we hear from the panel “Getting Started with Zero-Knowledge” with speakers from the Ethereum Foundation: Chih Cheng Liang (CC), Senior Engineer at Privacy and Scaling Exploration Team and Wanseob Lim, Researcher at Privacy & Scaling Explorations. The panel was moderated by our very own Debra Nita, Senior Account Manager at YAP Global. The panel discussed zkML, zkEVM and key themes around scaling and privacy.  

Discussing why ZK is not merely hype, CC points out that “if you have ZK, you already have proof of the knowledge, and you don’t need to run whole transactions, which means it helps with speed. That’s why ZK matters. It helps with scaling.” Wanseob shares that “it’s important to protect ourselves because some intelligent organisations are collecting a lot of information about us, and in 30 years, we’ll have supercomputers with enough information that can decrypt anything. That’s why cryptography is important to protect our data and information to prevent something like that from happening.” 

We also heard from Siong Ong, Co-Founder at Jupiter, Ken Chan, Co-Founder and CTO of Aevo, Calvin Chu, Core BUIDLer at Impossible Finance and Moderator Sarah, co-founder at BlockBooster this morning on the panel “DeFi across different chains“. Discussing what sets decentralised finance (DeFi) apart, Siong points out that people feel like there’s some kind of alpha, and they want to grab that. Ken elaborated that there is development of interesting ideas combining finance and math in DeFi. Speaking to the overall ecosystem, Calvin pointed out that “bull market money is everywhere. Bear market money, the important thing is to aggregate some sense of community. Liquidity is what’s scarce in the space. It’s about bringing new liquidity into the space, even in a bear market.” This is compared to the bull market, where we have enough to support L1s and new L2s. 

The panel was followed by “Fairness is all you need: what ZKML is and is not” talk by Cathie So, ZKML Researcher at Privacy & Scaling Explorations (PSE), Ethereum Foundation. Discussing what zkML is really for, Cathie says that “it all boils down to fairness. Then, a lot about product and system design changes… Open-sourcing the Twitter algorithm doesn’t mean anything. How do I know that it is applied to my data?” She adds that we need to ensure the same algorithm or model is applied to everyone, and that model upgrades are publicly known.  

Next up, Shan Shan Shui, ProRel Institutional Growth Lead at Lido Finance, introduces Lido and institutional Staking Adoption in Asia. She talks about Lido’s plans towards sustainable growth, including introducing Dual Governance so that stETH users would be able to veto LDO proposals. Speaking about their upcoming focuses, Shan says, “We’re looking at institutional adoption – from Traditional Finance (TradFi), traditional capital allocators. This is where the next stage of adoption will happen, where you get the next few Bs (Billions), not just millions.”  

To dive further into liquid staking, Shan is joined by two other panellists: TN Lee, CEO at Pendle Finance and Zoe Li, Ecosystem & Strategy at Mantle Network, on “Liquid Staking Derivatives – what, why and how?” moderated by Abhishek Bhattacharya, CEO & CoFounder at The Impact Wave. Speaking to the future, Shan shares that “we’re looking to replicate the use of stETH across a broader financial ecosystem like how users can potentially use it as collateral on centralised exchanges for trading firms and hedge funds as a trading asset. If they’re already holding onto long ETH positions, it makes sense for them to transition over to stETH.” 

Speaking to potential new instruments in DeFi, TN asks, “Why hasn’t anyone collateralised gold tokens to mint Dollar stablecoins and then use that for other forms of yield generation? There are pockets of opportunities that do not really require any kind of breakthrough innovation. It could be implementing something as simple as a Collateralized Debt Position model and then taking a different kind of asset and minting stablecoin for yield generation.” 

Zoe points out that “the upcoming SEC announcement on how they think about securities and Ethereum staking will matter hugely for this industry and will impact the next wave of flowing liquidity. We’re also in a moment of economic history right now because, unlike the last cycle, there won’t be infinite liquidity flowing.” 

To end the conference with a bang, we heard from Matthew Tan, CEO & Co-Founder at Etherscan, Danesh Jothiprahasam, Head of Domestic Digital Investment at MDEC and Thila Vijayan, Head of Academic & Learning Experience Designer at 42KL with Harith Kamarul, Organiser of ETHKL, moderating the panel Buidling in Malaysia. 

Matthew pointed out how Malaysia is unique, saying, “There are some countries where workplace policies need diversity to be built into the system. But in Malaysia, we have diversity by default.”  

Discussing how to encourage blockchain adoption in Malaysia, Thila points out that “as builders, we need to showcase that there are solutions for companies’ problems. We don’t necessarily have to say, “this is solved by using blockchain”. As long as it actually solves their problem, they don’t care whether it’s a blockchain solution or not.” 

On top of that, Danesh points out that “we need the support of global talent. Malaysia has a nomad visa. We also have MTEP, a tech entrepreneur pass for founders who are creating companies in Malaysia. The government is offering all types of incentives, like tax breaks, to support companies and builders. We also have grants.” 

A big congratulations to the ETHKL team for orchestrating such a successful event. Their dedication and meticulous planning not only made ETHKL a resounding success but also positioned Malaysia as a burgeoning hub for crypto communities to converge and collaborate.

Our team had a great time crafting wrap-up reports and facilitating media coverage to highlight the pivotal discussions that transpired. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Niro, Delon, Debra, Jonathan, and Vas for their unwavering efforts in ensuring our contribution was impactful.

If you’re gearing up for a crypto event or conference and are in need of a seasoned PR partner to amplify your message, we invite you to reach out to us at YAP Global. We’ve worked with conferences such as ETHDenver, EthCC, and Cosmoverse. Reach out to us here.

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