Representations of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin (Image: Reuters/Florence Lo/Illustration)
One of the most popular vacation destinations globally, Miami’s “fun in the sun” image is all set to transform this summer.
The raucous Floridan city, which is all about beaches, parties and fun is readying itself for a cryptocurrency revolution, which starts with Bitcoin 2021, a two-day crypto conference touted as the biggest bitcoin event in history.
It kicks off on June 4 with a star-studded speaker list that includes Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and cryptographer Nick Szabo. The event is expected to have more than 12,000 in-person attendees from 250+ companies.
Bitcoin 2021: What to look out for?
While the conference remains largely North American and male-dominated, with 80 percent of the attendees belonging to those categories, it has managed to capture representation from all walks of life, be it venture capitalists (10 percent), higher management officials (25 percent) or crypto-enthusiasts (35 percent) alike. The conference’s attendee breakdown suggests that most of them (65 percent) are aged between 21-34 years of age.
The two-day conference will touch on various topics like investing in the bitcoin system, the bitcoin-enabled future, prospects for the creator economy, creating banking systems for the unbanked community and more.
Interestingly, the conference comes at a time when the city has seen a surge of investment inflows, with more than $972 million invested last year via 57 deals. This is a steep rise from 2018 when the city inked more than 105 deals but raked in only $678 million.
Miami: The Future Silicon Valley?
Known for its sunny beaches and wild nightlife, the city attracted much attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed the United States and the world to work remotely for long periods of time.
Fuelled by announcements from major venture capital groups and hedge funds like Blackstone Group, Citadel and Blumberg Capital, who opened offices in Miami recently, the city has gained traction in the tech community.
Adding to the momentum was SoftBank, the world’s largest tech investor, which launched its ‘Miami Initiative’, a $100 million fund to promote local tech startups in the city. Mayor Francis Suarez, on his part, is leaving no stone unturned to fashion his city as a global cryptocurrency hub.
“We want to be on the next wave of innovation”, he was quoted as saying in an interview. He recently also proposed that Miami municipal workers be paid in bitcoin, along with receiving tax payments in the virtual currency and making investments from city funds in cryptocurrencies. In response, a resolution to constitute a 13-member task force that will look into the viability of accepting cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment and taxes was passed, signaling positive sentiments for crypto entrepreneurs and enthusiasts across the US.
“It’s an exciting time, and I do think that this is the future of our world. And if we want to be a tech city, in Miami we have to take advantage of these opportunities to differentiate ourselves and get ahead of our competition.” Suarez said at a recent cryptocurrency conference.
In keeping with this, cryptocurrency exchange FTX recently announced that it has acquired naming rights for the city’s iconic basketball arena. Unlike New York (9 percent) and California (13 percent), which have a steep income tax rate, Florida does not have provisions for state income tax, which makes it all the more enticing and inviting for wealthy entrepreneurs.
All that remains to be seen is how Florida fares in terms of setting up a favorable legislative framework for this cryptocurrency fervor. Mayor Suarez indicated that Florida is looking towards Wyoming, another US state that recently allowed the inclusion of crypto assets in a portfolio without having to appoint a separate manager.
With Wyoming recognising and regulating these digital assets, Florida hopes to follow suit in order to become the world’s “cryptocurrency capital”.