Crypto for Trees, EU Regulation, and Token Swapping: Day Three of the Ethereum Community Conference

The last minutes of the Ethereum Community conference ended in some fast & furious token-swapping in the lobby of the Maison de la Mutualite. The excitement was courtesy of Hermez, a decentralized ZK (zero-knowledge) rollup specializing in low-cost token transfers. In cryptography, a zero-knowledge proof is when one party can prove to another that a specific mathematical statement is true without revealing any additional information. The concept helps with the transfer of sensitive information and allows blockchain transactions to remain private.


But back to EthCC [4]. Hermez hosted a conference-wide token exchange, which included tokens with quirky names such as the Future of France, Lambo, Elon Musk Muted, and Corgi.  This “conference trading” served as a casual ice breaker for attendees, although the atmosphere throughout the venue was already very social. Additional gamification elements were also present throughout the week (including a POAP raffle for volunteers and  SushiSwap’s NFT giveaway), making EthCC a nice balance between networking, community building, and educational initiatives. Before we pull the curtain on this year’s Paris conference, let’s look at some of the highlights from day three:



While building futures is exciting – at some point, the incoming regulations on Cryptocurrency and tokenization will likely put a slight damper on the Web 3.0 party. Luckily lawyers @silkenoa and @fatalmeh provided some insight on how to start thinking about these inevitable changes and incoming amendments to the law. Although they presented views rather than legal advice, the duo did cover a lot of important points that all holders of crypto and incoming DAOs should consider. In addition to clarifying that there is always a legal risk when holding crypto, there were some great jokes about the exodus from Berlin to Portugal due to the lack of elevators. For anyone looking for more insight into the legal side of tokenomics, they put together this handy (and collaborative) Crypto Legal Risk Checklist.



The concept of Proof of Personhood has been around since 2017 (and Vitalik Buterin proposed an identity system in 2014). However, Proof of Humanity (PoH) was only announced this past March by Kleros. POH is a social verification system that can help to throttle evil bots and provide resistance against Sybil attacks. One use case being explored by the decentralized arbitration service include a Universal Basic Income Token.


Humanity is a hot topic, especially as we enter a future filled with AI, IoT, and robots. As discussions around humanity increase, it’s also opened up the conversation about extending human rights to animals and natural resources. Many initiatives are utilizing NFT technology for environmental and social good to tackle this, including Project Ark. Today, however, we’re discussing tress.


On the main stage of EthCC, James Beck (Director of Communication at ConsenSys) discussed environmental personhood and how rights can be referred to natural resources on the Ethereum network. The concept of assigning human rights to non-humans is gaining traction, and Beck believes that the Ethereum blockchain can play a vital role in protecting and sustaining natural resources.


The example used by Beck was street trees, highlighting the need to protect them from damage and destruction. Utilizing the New York City Street Tree Map of 700,000 street trees, Beck explained the unique benefits of street trees: they absorb carbon, prevent erosion, and cool cities in the summer. He highlighted initiatives such as terra0, based in Berlin, that aims to provide automated ecosystem resilience frameworks.” In 2018, terra0 used censors on a bonsai tree to determine its various needs (more water, more light, etc.). Essentially, the tree is managed by a DAO, and when Ethereum is sent to the tree’s smart contract, humans provide the required upkeep. 


Citing this example, Beck seeks to expand on this concept by creating an NYC Street Tree Dao. Using the platform, he is crowdfunding for a specific Japanese Zelkova tree in Brooklyn. Beck’s case for tree DAO’s is further explored in a collectible NFT piece on Mirror.




Yes, there was a lot of legal talk happening on day three of EthCC. Primavera De Filippi (legal researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris) made it clear that current Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright laws do not necessarily protect works that are copied or re-sold on the blockchain. Not the best news, but at least there’s going to be a party on the Moon!



And finally, we got an update on the EU regulation, Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA), from Dea Markova, Senior Director at the EU division of FTI consulting. While it appears these regulations might not come into effect until 2024, Markova hinted that the EU is far ahead of the U.S. and other major financial markets on regulation. Furthermore, the EU is more focused on providing solutions to problems rather than just presenting the problems themselves. In Brussels, the INATBA task force has been established to help lawmakers create regulations that don’t stifle innovation and development. One insight Markova provided is that tokens will likely be regulated based on the utility and purpose they provide (stablecoins will have different regulations than altcoins, for instance).


It’s too early to tell how this will all play out, but more governments and financial institutions are entering the DeFi space as these laws are being created.


What a whirlwind week in Paris! Of course, this is just a small amount of the information shared at EthCC. Check out this fascinating talk about MetaFi and the Open Metaverse by Outlier Venture’s Jamie Burke, as well as other talks from the EthCC [4] main stage.


Au revoir, and see you at the next Ethereum Conference!

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