By Nancy Dahlberg
As Bitcoin 2021 Conference opens in Miami, cryptocurrency exchange eToro announces it is expanding to the Magic City.
The bulls of bitcoin – more than 12,000 of them -- poured into the Mana Wynwood Convention Center for Bitcoin 2021 on Friday. The day, which opened with a welcome message from Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, included fireside chats, art, prize giveaways (who will win the Lambo?) and a festival like atmosphere, mixed with a few major announcements.
Following on Thursday’s announcement that Blockchain.com was relocating to Miami, eToro, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange, will be adding a US hub in Miami and is scouting locations, the Miami Herald reported. eToro, based in Israel, boasts 19 million weekly visitors.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square and keynote speaker, told the crowd making bitcoin accessible to the world is his life’s work, a conviction that grew stronger after living in Africa in 2019.
“If I were not at Square or Twitter, I would be working on bitcoin. If they needed more help than Square or Twitter, I would leave them for bitcoin,” he said.
“For me, Bitcoin changes absolutely everything,” said Dorsey, adding that he and Jay-Z created a multimillion-dollar fund to further bitcoin development in Africa and India because of their belief that Bitcoin can usher in life-changing advancement in emerging markets. “I don’t think there is anything more enabling around the world.”
“I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on,” Dorsey continued. “The internet needs a native currency .. and the world needs to transact with it every single day. All the other coins to me don’t factor in at all.”
Dorsey also announced Friday that Square is strongly considering building a non-custodial hardware wallet for bitcoin. “If we do it, we would build it entirely in the open, from software to hardware design, and in collaboration with the community,” he tweeted after the talk.
Square is one of only 32 large corporations in the U.S that have bitcoin on their balance sheets. Another one is MicroStrategy and CEO Michael Saylor, also a speaker, who has only been a bitcoin convert for about a year. As the longest-running CEO of a tech company, he was ready to retire, he told the crowd. “I had lost faith in all of my traditional investment strategies. Then bitcoin happened to me and here I am. I see bitcoin as the most secure, most reliable, most certain things in the entire economic universe.”
Not only will adapting bitcoin stop the bleeding on your balance sheet, he told the audience, but it has also paid dividends for the company culture. About the politicization of bitcoin, he said, “I think we can all move forward together. Bitcoin fixes everything.”
It’s also about mainstreaming the digital currency, said Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, co-founders of Gemini. It’s why their company will soon be distributing a credit card with rewards in bitcoin, rather than frequent flyer miles or other rewards. Getting people used to owning some bitcoin, even just as a reward, will help accelerate adoption. More than 250,000 people are on the waiting list for the card.
The growing interest in bitcoin can also be tracked by the attendance of the conferences over the years. The first conference, in San Jose in 2013, attracted about 200; in 2019, 2,000 attended in San Francisco. This year, the pandemic-weary crowd swelled to 12,000 plus.
Yet, there have been growing pains.
On Twitter, David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc, apologized to attendees who waited in long lines to get into the conference, some for as long as two hours in the morning. He said the conference organizers would be making changes Saturday to make the entry process smoother.
Bitcoin 2021 continues Saturday with Tony Hawk and Kevin O'Leary as featured speakers.
This story has been updated. Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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