© AFP / File KAREN BLEIER
Thousands of people have flocked to Miami for a massive two-day bitcoin conference that opened Friday, a sign that the U.S. city, in the midst of a technology boom, hopes to become the next cryptocurrency hub.
“I don’t think there’s anything more important to work on in my life” than bitcoin, given the flexibility it offers, he told an audience full of billionaire businessman Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and payment firm Square.
“We do not need the financial institutions we have today. We have one that thrives, that is solid, that is community-owned, that is community-driven, ”said Dorsey, one of Bitcoin 2021’s keynote speakers.
Dorsey tweeted Friday that Square was considering making a hardware portfolio to store Bitcoin securely.
With 12,000 participants and all the speaker sessions sold out, the Bitcoin 2021 fair includes exhibits from crypto mining companies, crypto traders and bitcoin exchange networks.
The conference was originally scheduled in Los Angeles, but was moved due to more severe coronavirus restrictions in California.
The line to enter the Mana Convention Center in the modern Wynwood neighborhood of Miami was wrapped around the building. Everyone was very upset and no facial masks were seen.
Beyond Dorsey, two of the other speakers were Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Mark Zuckerberg’s fellow Harvard twins who sued him for claims that he stole their Facebook idea and now ran Gemini with cryptocurrency exchange.
“We believe Bitcoin is gold 2.0,” Tyler said at a roundtable. “When we get to Mars, what will be the currency on Mars? Dollars? No, Bitcoin. ”
– “A movement” –
So where does Miami fit into the picture?
For David Abner, Gemini’s global head of business development, Miami is “central, especially in the Americas, and there’s a lot of political support here.”
“I think they have spent time understanding and thinking about the ramifications of bitcoin. So they give a lot of support to the economy, “Abner told AFP, adding that the cryptocurrency could revolutionize remittances sent to Latin America.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who opened Bitcoin 2021, has become somewhat famous in tech circles, for his intense efforts to turn the Magic City into a Silicon Valley in front of the beach.
In February, the Republican mayor announced that the city would explore ways to do some of its financial transactions using cryptocurrency, including paying salaries to employees.
Earlier this week, venture capital firm Borderless Capital announced it would move its headquarters from Atlanta to Miami and launch a new $ 25 million fund for local startups using blockchain technology.
And the mayor announced the launch of MiamiCoin, a Miami-specific cryptocurrency that will allow investors to raise the city’s coffers while making money themselves.
“It simply came to our notice then. That’s a move, ”Suarez said Friday.
– “A little suspicious” –
Since late last year, Miami has attracted technologies moving away from Silicon Valley and New York for a variety of reasons, thanks to the lack of state taxes in Florida and the relatively lax precautions of the coronavirus, along with the strength of multicultural work of the city and its proximity to Latin America.
It’s not exactly clear how many have moved, but there are signs of growth: house prices are up nearly 35 percent in just one year, according to the Miami Real Estate Association.
But not everyone is happy. The Miami Herald warned in an editorial of the possible pitfalls of embracing all things in the city.
“It simply came to our notice then. We hope that the cryptocurrency, and the flickering neon welcome mat we have prepared for the technology industry, will elevate this city to a new prosperity, ”the newspaper said.
“Don’t blame us for being a little suspicious,” he said. “Because Miami has a history, people. We’ve been a smugglers’ paradise, the epicenter of the cocaine trade, a mecca for money laundering, zero for mortgage fraud …”
“We worry about going through another cycle of boom and bust or a wave that falls and takes us all. If we bet on the future of the city, please don’t repeat the past.”