MIAMI – The 2021 Bitcoin Conference, which looks to be the largest virtual currency event in history, started on Friday in Miami with full attendance and optimistic messages about how financial freedom and non-brokerage can “change everything.”
A long line of thousands of people outside the Mana Convention Center, in the Wynwood neighborhood, the venue for the event, as well as corridors packed with visitors were a sign of the interest this meeting aroused.
The event was inaugurated by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who in the conference room spoke of his crusade to turn the city into “a technological leader in the world.”
Suarez welcomed the transfer from New York to Miami of the US headquarters of cryptocurrency firm blockchain.com, which he himself announced Thursday with company President Peter Smith, which is due to create 300 new jobs in the next two years.
“This is not a moment, it is a movement,” he said.
Miami has seen the landing of several important technology companies in recent months, which the mayor has welcomed hoping to turn Miami into an industry hub.
This week the iconic American Airlines Arena for sports competitions, concerts and other mass events, located in the city center, changed its sign to another with its new name, FTX Arena, under the agreement signed by the city with the cryptocurrency company.
“The background of cryptocurrencies is to try to give power back to the people and take power away from the institutions and we are trying to reaffirm that,” Alex Gambon, director of the cryptocurrency firm Elongate, told EFE.
In its first eight weeks, this company has raised more than $3 million for charitable purposes, through alliances such as the one they made with the Big Green organization, owned by Kimbal Musk, brother of Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk, to create gardens in slums.
“We have seen it is a great decentralizing force and it brings power back to ordinary people,” Gambon said with conviction.
Like him, the age of the vast majority of those attending the event, which in its two days is expected to attract up to 50,000 people, is between 30 and 40 years old.
The thousands of participants in search of technological opportunities, investments and new digital financial uses are mostly young professionals who have embraced the philosophy of cryptocurrencies and move on the opposite side of traditional banking.
The fair held within the convention center is a diverse sample of companies that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method, including jewelry stores, watch brands, real estate developers, video games and even the famous Playboy magazine.
“What I really see is that no matter how much doubt there is around cryptocurrency, it is a movement, it is happening and nothing will be able to change it, over time people will start to trust it,” Moshe Mana, president of Mana Common, one of the promoters of the event, told EFE.
Mana, who has a fortune of more than 1 billion dollars in properties in Miami, said that for Latin America, cryptocurrencies can be an alternative to the “high interests” of some financial institutions that pose a barrier for, for example, small farmers.
Despite the complexity of the world of cryptocurrencies (there are more than 4,000), this trend that mixes economics, mathematics, internet and “blockchain” technology moves billions of dollars in transactions, with bitcoin as the market’s most famous and valuable.
Former Congressman Ron Paul and cryptographer, jurist and computer scientist Nick Szabo were among the speakers at the event on its first day.
According to Szabo, who spoke about the history of money and already proposed something similar to cryptocurrencies in the ‘90s, virtual money solves a number of fundamental historical shortcomings of both precious metals and fiat money. He gave examples such as expensive delivery and insecure custody, expensive and / or trust-based validation and digital centralization.
It also featured an intervention by Twitter CEO and US digital payments firm Square co-founder Jack Dorsey, who said cryptocurrencies have properties that can help achieve financial sovereignty and serve the unbanked population that abounds in developing countries.
“For me, bitcoin changes everything,” said Dorsey, who promised he will do everything possible from his position so that these virtual currencies are as soon as possible accessible to everyone and for everything.
Initially scheduled in the city of Los Angeles, concerns about the restrictions imposed in California due to the pandemic led those responsible for the conference to move the event this year to Miami, much more permissive in terms of COVID-19 regulations.