The future of blockchain has arrived, said Shekhar Gupta, noting that since the technology first gained mainstream interest, it has proven critical in a wide range of use cases that could help to reshape the world as consumers and innovators know it.
“A lot has changed in the last three or four years in the blockchain and Web3 space,” said Gupta, a Kansas City serial entrepreneur and founder of the Heartland Web3 Conference. “Things like NFTs, smart contracts, and distributed finance have emerged, and many people still don’t fully grasp their potential.”
Educating the public about that potential — and working to fuel greater innovation in the emerging industry — prompted the comeback of Gupta’s Heartland Web3 Conference.
The one-day conference — set for Nov. 8 at The Gallery in downtown Kansas City’s Power & Light District — is designed as an opportunity to actively engage with experts through panel discussions, workshops, and presentations while staying current with the most recent developments in blockchain and Web3, Gupta said.
Click here for tickets to the Heartland Web3 Conference.
With the conference’s return in 2023, Gupta is determined to use the Web3 gathering to share valuable insight on the evolving technology. The conference is expected to cover topics like digital identity, NFTs, the legal aspects of smart contracts, and the social impact of blockchain technology.
Among the conference’s lineup of 14 speakers, notable experts include Kansas City entrepreneur Toby Rush, founder of Deem; Montrez Jones, focusing on DAOs for social causes; and Raven Josiah, an innovator exploring QR codes and commissions.
Making the future approachable
With the swift evolution of blockchain tech and Web3 landscape, many people don’t find the industry approachable, Gupta acknowledged, emphasizing a key tenet of the Heartland Web3 Conference is to ensure accessibility for all, even for those new to Web3.
“We want to provide an education to people who may not know what it is,” he said. “And also offer conversations for people who may know what Web3 is, but don’t know how to go about developing a product in this space.”
The Web3 conference first made waves in 2019 when it attracted more than 200 attendees to Kansas City, including prominent speakers from various corners of the country, Gupta said.
“We had speakers coming in from the west coast, up north in Minnesota, down in Austin, and Chicago,” said Gupta. “It was a real hit.”
The event had a profound impact pre-pandemic, he said.
“I know that there were some entrepreneurs shaking hands and getting together, and so I know that there were at least a couple of different companies or products that emerged after that conference,” Gupta said.
Digital solutions for the real world
Web3 technology can be tailored to address real-world social issues, such as homelessness and refugee crises, Gupta said. He envisions Web3 as a tool to easily establish identity for those in need.
“My personal belief has always been that people don’t want to be homeless,” said Gupta. “There are so many government resources available, but many times these people either don’t know how to get them, or don’t have a way to prove who they are.”
Using Web3 in the format of an identity-verification app, for example, could play a big role in overcoming such obstacles, he said.
“You can create an identity similar to a state ID or driver’s license and put it on the blockchain,” Gupta continued. “Nobody can refute it. Nobody can say, ‘Oh no, I’m Shekhar Gupta.'”
He also highlighted the role of blockchain technology in supply chain management, where it can ensure the integrity of products during transit. Gupta offered the example of how a smart contract simplifies car purchases by automating the agreement between buyer and seller.
Smart contracts can specify car details, including make, model, mileage, condition, and terms. When both parties agree, the contract automatically transfers funds to the seller, ensuring a secure, efficient exchange while confirming the car’s condition.
“There’s no middleman,” Gupta explained. “So you’re not afraid of sending a car to me, a transport, because you know it’s on the blockchain. Once I hit ‘yes’, you’ll get the money. If I hit ‘no,’ you’ll get the car. So there is no fraud per se in there.”
Blockchain also can track and verify critical data like temperature in a shipment of perishable goods, ensuring that the conditions are met and regulatory requirements are satisfied.
An evolving conversation
Kansas City recently was recognized as a growing tech hub, and Gupta believes that more eyes on blockchain in KC can bring even more attention to the city.
“Having a national level tech conference can definitely bring that kind of exposure where the mayor can go and say, ‘While in addition to us getting this designation, we’re also organizing this tech conference, and there were people coming from all over the country to attend it,’” said Gupta.
As Web3 technology continues to advance, the conference will adapt to meet the themes of the day, Gupta said, noting future gatherings will reflect whatever innovation is at the forefront of the conversation.