When it comes to Europe, the cultural and economic diversity, as well as a world class heritage in adjacent sectors like gaming and asset management coupled with a large tech talent pool, play strongly in favour of driving growth in this space. We are seeing a vibrant crypto ecosystems developing in places like Berlin, Paris, Lisbon, Barcelona, Eastern Europe, and the Baltics.
Europe has traditional strength in cryptography, with key figures from the International Association for Cryptologic Research, being from European Academic institutions, and industry clusters relying on cryptographic expertise in France, Denmark, Estonia, Belgium and Switzerland. The designers of both US standard hash function and block cipher are European – a testament to this expertise (AES and SHA3). Europe is especially strong in symmetric cryptography and embedded systems. Ironically, the depth of expertise around crypto in Europe is associated historically with the US export control regimes on cryptography.
Given how people in Europe look at things like data protection, there’s a stronger sense of urgency here than somewhere like the US to find solutions. But for entrepreneurs it’s really hard to run a business in this space. There’s currently no certainty, neither for the entrepreneurs nor the establishment, on what we can do and could do. There are things like regulatory sandboxes that people try but I am not convinced these will work, since ultimately you need to get out of the sandbox and will then face the same problems again. It’s important that policymakers really understanding what this technology is and do not regulate too early, giving startups a certain certainty that they would not get punished for what they are doing.