“This is not a conference, this is a networking event” – The 20th Riga international business and networking event.

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Last week, during October 19-20, the 20th international business and networking event took place in Riga, Latvia. The theme for this event was Asia – The New Challenges and Opportunities.

Fantastic weather blessed the organizers which rejoiced the attendees on the 3rd floor of Citadele conference hall with the most spectacular view on the Riga harbor, which was next to where the event took place.

The event started as everyone was offered a welcome coffee and snacks so that the networking could kick off. Best Coin Investments also attended it even though looking at the agenda it seemed that it had nothing to do with cryptocurrencies. This event was specifically for business and investment opportunities in Asia. We saw a chance to find out the position on what the entrepreneurs and government officials, who attended the event, had to say about cryptocurrencies and blockchain in general. We wanted to know if the business, investment, and innovation side of the Asian market was aware of the technology. Whether they had researched it, how far the governments are in regulating it, and what they have to say about it in general.

During the morning coffee break we bumped into Raitis Kaucis, the founder of Gagapay and Dexopay platforms. It was delightful to see familiar faces in an event where we didn’t expect it. We immediately asked what were his expectations on the event and basically what brings him here. He replied that his company Gagapay was the general sponsor of the previous event and since both of the platforms are soon to be launched Raitis was looking for new partners. Raitis said that he comes to these events to meet new business partners, friends, and network with people alike. This event was no exception, “especially because this event mainly focuses on business in Asia. And Asia is the main audience for our businesses,” he told us during our short chat and got back to his conversations.

When everyone had finished their morning coffee and snacks, the attendees were greeted in a large conference hall by the event moderator Mr. Glen Grant. Glen shared a few charming words to the organizers Talivaldis Kreislers and Mara Kreislere, saying that he has been a part of almost all the 20 events they’ve had so far and that he is amazed by the ambitiousness and daringness these two organizers have. After Glen’s speech, a demonstration of an Indian dance took place. Indian music, drums, and dances led by Indian representatives lightened up the situation and everyone loosened up a little bit before the tight schedule. Every presenter had 20 minutes reserved for their speech plus questions.

This dance was an introduction to the next speaker – Mr. Jagat Shah. Jagat is the Global Network representative from India, and he shared basic statistics about the Indian market in general. He shared some of the ongoing works that India is working on at the moment and simple ethics on how to behave if doing business in India. For example, an exciting fun fact was that if an Indian business partner invites you to dinner at his home – you must accept it. Otherwise, it is considered rude, and no one will be interested in doing business with you afterward. That is because 70% of the Indian companies are family orientated, and the dinner table is where all the business conversations happen. A few compelling statistics that Mr. Jagat shared: India has 400 million active smartphones while the general population is 500 million, they are adding 100 kilometers of new roads to their transport system, and that India is the fastest growing economy in the world. If you have a business and you are willing to expand to India – this is the right time.

We couldn’t stand still after such groundbreaking information and decided to interview Mr. Jagat about India’s current position on cryptocurrencies. Jagat told that the Central Bank of India had found a very high level 5 member committee that is looking at ways how to legalize cryptocurrencies into the mainstream banking system an in the central financing system of India. He shared that many companies in India are coming out with ICOs which is not yet legal in India, but he added that cryptocurrencies as a whole are working in different aspects of use, for example, there are coffee shops that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment. When asked how the government refers to companies which are willing to operate in the cryptocurrency field, he said: “The Government is neither motivating them nor discouraging.” The Indian government comprehends that cryptocurrencies are a new, different niche and that it needs to be investigated further for legalizing them as a new asset class, and that there is no need to despise them. He expressed that all the governments should come together on discussing cryptocurrencies because they “can be good for doing business,” he continued “governments should come forward, and it will happen because blockchain technology can be used in almost all of the sectors. It is a question of time. And at the same time it’s going to hit all the current financial structures, so in India, the banks are looking on how to become a part of this system.”

The next presentation was about the economic development in Shenzhen, China and how Europe can look up to it as a great investment opportunity. It was led by Mr. Qiang Lan, a member of the Shenzhen Qiqiaoland Group. He shared fascinating statistics about Shenzhen, for example, Shenzhen only exists for 38 years, and it almost looks like Hong Kong. That is because Shenzhen was one of the fastest growing cities in the world during 1990-2000s. They have a very vibrant economy and foreign investments policy. The city is a leading global technology hub and its dubbed that the population is about 20 million people. He shared that Shenzhen is the home of many global companies like Huawei, Tencent, Shenzhen stock exchange and many more. An interesting fact – Huawei CEO holds 1% of the companies shares, while the rest 99% divides between his employees. He touched Chinas leading mobile app WeChat, shared on how companies can operate within it, and approved that it is the leading social networking app in China along with the biggest search engine in China – Baidu. His central theme of the presentation was investment opportunities in Shenzhen, China.

As it is a global leading tech hub, it is open to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and it is the home for a lot of crypto-related companies and exchanges.

Next came Ms. Sri Kumala Chandra, a member of the European – Indonesian Business Network. Ms. Sri Kumala had a similar theme for her presentation – investment and business opportunities in Indonesia and how the country has developed so far. She said that people in Indonesia mostly use smartphones, not laptops and that about 356 million smartphones are being used daily in Indonesia. The country is actively working on their healthcare development as still most of the citizens use traditional medicine and despises modern healthcare opportunities.

She touched some of the country’s developing economic sectors and welcomed everyone to either visit the beautiful place or bring their business to it.

When asked about Indonesia and its relations with cryptocurrencies, first of all, she said that she is not the expert of this issue, but she shared that the government has made many restrictions regards cryptos last year and that a lot of residents look at the asset class as very risky to invest. However, at the same time “there are many companies in the technology field that are currently investing in cryptocurrencies” and looks at the market as it “will be booming and growing again for sure.” When speaking about whether the Indonesian government could be implementing blockchain within their governing instances, she said that “I don’t think so, not for now.” The government “is in a position where our economy today is down compared to Euro. That is the focus of the government, firstly to fix the currency with the Euro and the USD. And since the elections are near, we (the government) are not willing to take any risks regards this subject. The position should be more clear when we have a new president,” she stated in the interview.

Then came two presentations about new investment opportunities in the Republic of Uzbekistan and a story by Andris Lubins on how he conquered the Indian market with his granule company Grandeg from Latvia.

Next, it was time for networking and lunch. The organizers had allocated a full hour and a half so that all the attendees could use this time to talk to each other and make new contacts.

We used this time to talk to one of the general sponsors for this event, a company called Cash Back and its ambassador Andris Jansons. It is a reward system that allows users to benefit from their everyday purchases. We had heard rumors that they are willing to implement cryptocurrencies and that they are working on a project which is a plan on making their cryptocurrency and making it usable in their native platform. We asked Andris whether these rumors were true and how are they planning to do that. How far the whole process is, and when we could expect the new cryptocurrency to appear. He confirmed these rumors and stated that “yes, we will have our crypto coin and it is being developed at the moment,” adding that “it should be available for use in June 2019.” Andris shared that their company already has what others don’t – active customers and a working platform all around the world. They have a total of around 450,000 places in 47 countries where the cash back solution is accepted and that their user base is approximately 10 million. So these are the facts that stand their company aside from others. He said that “we can shake this whole thing in a day because of what we have accomplished until now.” When asked on how the platform could operate when integrating their own cryptocurrency, he said “when we launch our native coin, we will fix its rate, so that it could be usable. Otherwise, it becomes a form of speculation, and we don’t want that. The first 4-5 years the coin will have a fixed price.” The company has partners all around the world with the largest and most successful being the sports industry where they are partnering with MotoGP and Formula 1 events. “Crypto is the future,” he said at the end of the interview “there will be plenty of different coins, and the ecosystem will stay as it is today, we won’t settle for just one.”

The concept of his company is fascinating and customer-minded. This niche – everyday commodities, is the largest business in the world and maybe it could be a significant cornerstone in the future of cryptocurrency acceptance.

When everyone had finished their lunch, which by the way was excellent and in various types for every kind of food lover, the event continued its pace, and the next presenters kicked it off with their presentations.

As the first presenter after the long networking break came Mr. Peter Sachsenmeier from the International Innovation Centre in Germany. Peter shared some of his thoughts on how the digitalization could help in building an economic bridge between the Baltic states and China. He also touched the subject of Industry 4.0, which is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, also called the fourth industrial revolution. He expressed his belief that a significant component of the next industrial revolution (Industry 5.0) will be synthetic biology.

Next came two handsome and witty guys – Arturs Boss and Kristaps Strelis, the owners of an investments company called Amber Capital Holdings. Their current collaboration country is Vietnam, so they shared some of the experiences what they had and told the vital basic facts that an entrepreneur should keep in mind when doing business with Vietnamese. They mentioned that the Vietnamese real-estate market is booming at the moment and that it is one of the best and, at the same time, most risky investment opportunities because a lot of the locals are scamming foreign investors. That is why a foreign investor should get some native partnerships before coming to Vietnam.

When asked if they are considering cryptocurrencies as investment opportunities, to which they replied that at the moment they are staying away from this asset class because the market is so volatile. They have considered it, but for now, the real estate market is more appealing to them.

During the next presentation by Mr. Ahmed Salem, he mentioned a few interesting facts about the Asian business market. 60% of the GDP comes from Family Businesses (FB), and that only 4% of FB goes worldwide, that is staying in their country of residence. Further on, he elaborated on the five different stages of the Family Business leader characteristics.

After Ahmed came Antti Veranen, who went in deep on the subject of dividing distinct cultures into three groups – Linear actives; Multi-cyclical and Reactive cultures.

After all the presentations finished, there was a general sponsor goods lottery, where all the attendants were participating. Then the moderator Glen Grant invited everyone to the next forum, which will happen in 22nd of March next year. The main theme for the next event is “The Modern World.”

This event was very well organized, hence the 10-year experience in making such forums. The organizers Talivaldis and Mara strictly insisted that “this is not a conference, this is a networking event.” The overall crypto feel in the event was pretty narrow. Not a single mention of neither the possible world financial system changing phenomenon nor the technology backing it in any of the presentations. Peter Sachsenmeier touched a topic on digitalization and Internet-of-Things, but that is about it. However, it is understandable. This event was strictly explaining to the attendees how the Asian market is looking at the moment, whether it has investment opportunities or not, how to do business in certain countries and how to behave when connecting with your business partners abroad. All this is very useful to the companies that are willing to expand their area of expertise.

When speaking about cryptocurrencies and the information we got out of the contestants – it is looking pretty bright in the sense of acceptance. We were surprised that so many cryptocurrency industry professionals were on the spot. And we found out that the majority of the entrepreneurs, government officials, and other attendants were aware of the technology that blockchain can provide and the fact that cryptocurrencies can change the financial system. We got to know that India has formed a five-member committee on cryptocurrency research and that Indonesia will have a more unobstructed view after their Presidential elections.

We also met a lot of people that work around cryptocurrencies. We met the director of Panda Design, a successful cryptocurrency marketing agency, which soon will be available for crypto companies that are willing to plan their advertising options. We also met an artist, Ilze Preisa, who gets her inspiration through popular global trends, including cryptocurrencies. She auctions her paintings for purchase, including with cryptocurrencies.

Most of the people we talked to, during these days, were fully aware of the crypto phenomenon, about where this technology and revolution might take us, and all as one expressed the need for the industry to be finally regulated so that the businesses can start fully operating. However, when asked about whether they see it as an investment opportunity, pretty much all of them replied negatively, because of the volatility of the market.

We at Best Coin Investments took the most out of this event, and we are super grateful to be given the opportunity to be a Media Partner of this event. We are looking forward to the next event, as the main theme “The Modern World” sounds very intriguing and might definitely bring topics much closer to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

All photos by SFK.lv and BestCoinIvestments