BTC Miami: Crypto Strikes Back

2022-04-12

As many of our community know, last week saw the 2022 Bitcoin conference take place in Miami. From the unveiling of the dramatic Miami Bull, and the announcements heralding mass adoption, it was action-packed. More than 35,000 people attended the conference including Wilson, our COO, and Simon, our CTO.

Wilson described the atmosphere there, “There was a lot of enthusiasm at BTC Miami. It was exciting to be around so many people that shared a passion about blockchain and Bitcoin. The event was really about bringing people together and they definitely succeeded as we met people from all over the world.”

With a star-studded lineup including industry titans such as Michael Saylor, Nick Szabo, and Peter Thiel it promised to be another blockbuster event for the whole cryptocurrency sphere. Whereas last year’s conference was dominated by El Salvador’s plans to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, this year’s was filled with talk of an upcoming announcement from Apple.

Although the rumored announcement about Apple integrating cryptocurrencies into its Pay app never materialized, the main conference developments still seemed to be centered around DeFi. This came as a surprise to some people who thought the DeFi season was last year and that GameFi would dominate this year.

Simon shared his thoughts on this, “As Bitcoin is becoming more utilized as a payment system, I believe this will give a great boost to the overall DeFi space. Bitcoin is undoubtedly the most well-known cryptocurrency and its recognition as a reliable payment system will create a foot-in-the-door effect for other cryptocurrencies which may be even more efficient.”

Setting the tone for the conference Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez kicked off the event by unveiling a huge statue of a laser-eyed bull dubbed the ‘Miami Bull’. In a direct reference to Wall Street’s infamous ‘Charging Bull’ statue, this moment demonstrated Miami’s desire to be the world capital of cryptocurrency.

Fintech or the financial technology aspects of crypto were center stage for the majority of the conference. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Paypal, used his talk to call out Warren Buffet, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, over their anti-crypto attitudes. Enthusiastic about the visionary revolution that crypto is opening the door to, he inspired many to be excited about the future of the space.

Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy is renowned for adding almost 130,000 Bitcoins to his company balance sheet which are now valued at around $6 Billion. He used his talk to focus on the recent US Presidential Executive Order regarding cryptocurrency, taking a strongly bullish attitude towards it.

Michael said, “If I scan the last 100 years of history, and I asked, ‘When is the last time the president of the United States directed the government to embrace a new asset class?’ The answer is never. So I think that bitcoin should be taking a victory lap for what happened here just in the past few weeks in the United States government.”

The highlight for many though was the surprise announcement from Jack Mallers, CEO of Strike, that they would partner with the world’s largest point of sale (PoS) providers to allow crypto payments to be used for goods and services.

Jack announced to the packed crowd, “You’re gonna be able to walk into a grocery store, to Whole Foods, to a Chipotle, if you want to use a Lightning node over Tor, you do that. Any online merchant that uses Shopify can accept payments…receive it instantly, cash final, no intermediary, no 3% fee.”

Describing this moment Wilson said, “It was incredible to be there live when Jack made his big announcement. This is a huge step in the right direction towards mass adoption. Integrating the Lightning Network in a seamless way that still allows retailers to accept USD and pay much less in fees is incredible. Once business owners see the benefits, I can see mass adoption happening very quickly.”

Rather than waiting painstakingly for each individual country to come around to the idea of accepting Bitcoin as legal tender, Jack’s announcement has effectively declared crypto to be legal tender, first in the U.S. and then throughout the world. Strike is a mobile payment app that’s similar to Paypal but based on the Bitcoin system of payments rather than fiat.

By integrating with Shopify it means that Strike users will be able to link their Bitcoin wallets to the app and pay for goods and services directly with their crypto. Their Bitcoin is exchanged into fiat automatically which is then deposited into the merchant’s Shopify account, making crypto payments no different than using a regular debit or credit card.

Being able to off-ramp your cryptocurrency directly in-store at the point of purchase without any formal KYC verification is one of the key developments needed to bring about mass adoption. It has the potential to make crypto as anonymous as cash and as convenient as a debit card, the best of both worlds.

Once more the Bitcoin conference showcased how quickly the space is developing and the ways that blockchain technology is rapidly expanding to fill the gaps left by legacy financial systems. The clear message from this year’s event is that mass adoption of crypto is now unavoidable and closer than ever before.

Simon added, “We were able to connect with some amazing people in the space. There have already been plans made for future contact with many. From potential investors to experts in NFTs. We’re looking forward to seeing where these connections will take Paribus.”

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