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The cryptocurrency fever in Miami is on full show at the bitcoin convention

06 Apr 2022 By : Coin Gabbar
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  • A volcano is constructed in the center of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami Beach, on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Miami is attracting hundreds of bitcoin aficionados as it presents itself as a blockchain technology powerhouse.

  • Dozens of firms are now using the Bitcoin 2022 conference to pitch ideas to investors or make news with the cryptocurrency community and elsewhere.

Thousands of cryptocurrencies aficionados are congregating in Miami as the city, despite its underdog position, establishes itself as one of the major centers for developing blockchain technology.

Dozens of firms are attending the Bitcoin 2022 conference, which runs from Wednesday through Friday, to network, present ideas, and make news with the industry and beyond.

With $6.5 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively, New York City and Silicon Valley went on to lead in blockchain startup investment in 2021. As per market researcher, Miami is currently tied with Los Angeles, where startups raised more than $760 million in fundraising.

Last year, cryptocurrency exchange FTX purchased the naming rights to the NBA stadium in downtown Miami, displacing American Airlines. the largest crypto company to relocate to Miami thus far will house 200 employees in the chic Wynwood area, where other IT firms and shareholders are also setting up base.

"Wynwood just has that type of energy that you're searching for when you're building a new understanding of technology," said Blockchain CEO and co-founder Peter Smith, comparing it to San Francisco's South of Market and New York City's Brooklyn. "In the end, you want to work with the other tech businesses."

Several pointed to a hospitable climate fostered by local leaders, particularly Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has drawn public attention by wooing digital investment and becoming one of America's crypto-friendly mayors.

Others point out that Miami and Florida are both business-friendly and stayed open throughout the epidemic, making them more appealing as a destination where people could work virtually.

"It is feasible to relocate to a location where you may purchase a property and see the sun," Smith said.

All this enthusiasm strikes a sharp contrast with bitcoin’s own rough year. On the financial side, the cryptocurrency hit a high of $67,553.95 back in November just before plunging by almost half as of late January; it remains down roughly 30% since that November high. Bitcoin is also largely absent from many of the hottest trends in crypto such as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which purportedly offer a way to auction off “unique” copies of digital art and other cyber objects.

More broadly, critics question the assumptions underlying the claimed value and utility of crypto technology, with some likening the hype and so-far unrealized promises of blockchain technologies to a Ponzi scheme that benefits early participants but leaves everyone else in the lurch.

As Miami aims to attract more investment for cryptocurrency projects, Bitcoin 2022 organizers say at least 75 companies will be making announcements at the conference.

Last year, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele made international news at the event, unveiling in a video that his country would be the first to make cryptocurrency legal tender. Bukele will be at the conference this year.

One of the most-anticipated announcements may come from 27-year-old Jack Mallers, CEO of bitcoin payment app Strike, who worked with Bukele’s government on the nationwide bitcoin launch.

Mallers also partnered with Twitter to synchronize his app with the social network to make it possible to send digital money as “tips” without needing a bank like Cash App and PayPal, demonstrating on a video how he sent $10 to a man at a Salvadoran Starbucks.

“Why would anyone ever use Western Union again? When you take one of the world’s largest social internet networks, you combine it with the world’s best open monetary network,” he says in the video posted on YouTube. “Western Union, a pawn to E4. What’s your move?”

It remains to be seen what the effort will yield in the future. South Florida saw its population decline by more than 18,000 people between July 2020 and July 2021. And critics worry the city does not have a high-ranking university that could build a workforce to make companies thrive, the way the Bay Area and New York do.

But Miami businessman Josip Rupena, who will be speaking about his crypto mortgages startup at the conference, said to give the effort a few years.

Rupena’s company, called Milo, has received $24 million in venture funding from investors to become a lender for people who have made considerable digital wealth but don’t want to convert cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars to buy a home.

“For the first time, I think we have a platform — and a national platform — to tell others that there are really a lot of smart and capable people here. It is great we can amplify that message,” Rupena said