Miami has emerged as a hub of innovation in the US over the last year, with developers moving to the city en masse under recognition of its strong network effects and supportive government. Its booming crypto sector has attracted a host of startups and investors, helping to build an economy that’s redefining how the world views innovation and technology.
But Bitcoin finds itself on the outs, with a cultural spotlight increasingly devoted to Ethereum instead of the original cryptocoin. That’s a real concern among the community of tecnho-libertarian crypto believers, who have been clamoring to turn this tech into a mainstream movement that can take on the dollar and become more than just an investment tool or a commodity.
There is a sense of desperation at the forefront of this effort, especially when you consider that this week’s conference in Miami feels a little stale as compared to others. Its organizers, BTC media, are hellbent on filling the void by adding a bizarre mix of fairly prominent voices in finance and random celebrities to the already packed event lineup.
The result is a confusing and incoherent mix that leaves the audience feeling like it hasn’t quite figured out where to focus. The speakers on the main stage are a mixed bag, ranging from well-known financial experts to a slew of cryptographers and technologists.
Some of the talks seem to be trying to make a case for the value of crypto technology as opposed to the hype surrounding it, while others look at the technology in a more critical way. Some of these talks seem to be pointing to the growing problem of fraud and scams in the space.
As a result, some critics have compared the technology to a Ponzi scheme that will benefit early investors but leave everyone else in the lurch. This is despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence that the technology can be used to improve financial and business services.
At the same time, crypto evangelists have built an almost religious faith in the idea that Bitcoin will one day replace other currencies and be the global digital currency of choice. This is a technological outcome that would be the stuff of their fantasies, but that still has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream.
In the meantime, however, the crypto-adjacent community is trying to carve out a cultural space for itself in Miami, with pop-ups and other activities aiming to create a cohesive feel that the city is a crypto capital of sorts. But as the largest Bitcoin conference in the world takes place a few miles away from Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s wannabe-crypto capital, the movement is feeling a little stale and confused.